UCI President David Lappartient based a large part of his election campaign on the fight against the use of hidden motors, or technological fraud, pledging to introduce new methods to test for such devices.
Speaking to Ciclo21, the Frenchman has now said that he is open to the possibility of lifetime bans for anyone caught with a motor.
“I think so [that such a ban could be warranted],” he said. “If you are willing to do that, we do not need you in our sport.”
Questioned as to whether or not he considered such cheating as more serious than standard doping, he said that he didn’t rank one over the other. “They both are [a concern],” he answered. “Quite simply, we do not want the cyclist to cheat. We will continue fighting against both.
“I admit that it would be an absolute disaster if tomorrow we have a case in which the winner of the Tour de France is caught using an engine. It would mean that the riders have gone crazy: that they would no longer be using medical doping and would have gone over to the mechanic…”
As has been stated before by Lappartient and the UCI, he reaffirmed that details will be available mid-March in terms of the additional methods the governing body will introduce to combat hidden motors.
Armstrong and the Tour of Flanders
On the subject of lifetime bans, Lappartient elaborated on his recent comments about Lance Armstrong’s planned guest attendance at the Tour of Flanders. The American received a lifetime ban from USADA in 2012, and later admitted to using banned products for much of his career.
Ciclo21 asked Lappartient why a known doper such as Richard Virenque should be able to make a living from cycling – he works as a TV commentator – while Armstrong is blocked out. Lappartient said that he was reluctant to focus specifically on Virenque as an example, given that people will point out that both the former rider and the current president are French, but said that his answer could apply to any previously banned rider.
“[These riders]…have been sanctioned, stopped their career, fulfilled their sanction and returned after paying their debt. That was not the case with Armstrong. He confessed later,” he said.
“You could even say that he took the money from other riders who competed clean. It is very different to be forced to recognize something after finishing your sports career, or to fulfil a penalty because you have tested positive in a control. For example, when Virenque won the Paris-Tours, it was after his sanction and he was analyzed and everything was normal. They are different situations.”
Pushed on whether or not lifetime bans should be the first option in a doping case, he said that the Court of Arbitration for Sport had a role to play in deciding.
“It depends,” he said. “It depends on the substance. It is not something so simple. This is something that the CAS must decide. There must be a principle of proportionality between the offense and the penalty.
“Yes, I believe that some behaviours should be punished with a lifetime penalty: the strongest substances, the reoccurrence [doping a second time]…”
In the full interview, Lappartient speaks about these topics plus a range of others, including the Chris Froome and whether or not the Vuelta a Espana should be shortened. Click through to read more at Ciclo21.