Civil War II: Lemond, McQuaid, and the UCI...
So the latest news (came through yesterday at the Sticky Bottle) to come out of the Change Cycling Now meetings, is that Greg Lemond will challenge current Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) president, Pat McQuaid, for that top position in cycling's governing organization. McQuaid, and the office of the presidency, comes up for reelection in September 2013.
As reported by the Sticky Bottle, Lemond said, "I'm ready; I was asked and I accepted." He then went on to say that "after the earthquake caused by the Armstrong case, another chance won't arise. If we want to restore public confidence and sponsors, we must act quickly and decisively. Otherwise, cycling will die. Riders don't understand that if we continue like this there will soon be no money in cycling."
Clearly, the UCI has an image problem. Much of that is tied to the current leadership and will never be completely erased no matter what policy changes or new regulations they might come up with. McQuaid, no matter what he may now propose (and I do believe that he wants cycling to more forward and away from its tainted past), is weighed down with too much baggage. That burden, collected during oversight of the sport during its darkest, most controversially troubling years will not serve him well in any attempt to revitalize cycling, bring back disillusioned fans and sponsors, nor reassure athletes that there is a secure future for them in the professional peloton.
The UCI needs a fresh outlook which, while promising a clean start can also link to the best of the sports traditional past. Enter Greg Lemond. Few people (maybe only one) can claim to have been as vocal about the missteps in the sport over the past twenty or so years, as can Lemond. The cycling legend, who became largely vilified and disparaged for speaking out against the drug abuse in the sport, now finds himself widely respected again. He is the type of person cycling needs in that top spot at this moment in time. He is not afraid to go on the attack, take the offensive, when need be. His dedication to the sport is undeniable. He is at once the classic insider, connected to the sport since youth; yet at the same time he is not viewed as being a part of the old machine.
For the most part, I have tended to stay away from the politicization of this mess, the Lance Armstrong affair, the numerous performance enhancing drug scandals. Only within the past two or three months have I decided to devote a little typespace to the cause - Calving Glaciers and Pro Cycling, Civil War I: Change Cycling Now and the UCI, and a few Friday Feedbags where I talked about the Paul Kimmage Defense Fund, etc - have been the extent of it. Like Lemond, though, I too have a fairly lengthy connection to the sport; who knows how many thousands of dollars I have invested over the past thirty or more years of adulthood participating in, and following the sport - bikes and components, team kit, videos, dvds, magazine subscriptions, race fees and travel expenses, team dues, books, memorabilia. Have I a vested interest in the health and longevity of the sport? I should say I have. All of us, anyone, who has invested likewise, thus have interests in the outcome of the ongoing controversy within the sport of cycling. We can chose to ignore the problems, hope they go away, let someone else take care of them, or we can become involved in efforts to bring about positive change by whatever means we have available to us.
By the way if you have not read it yet, go to the Change Cycling Now website, where you can download the manifesto - Charter of the Willing, a roadmap for the future direction of competitive cycling, as outlined by the group at this past weekends meetings.