Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Calling On The Media

By now, everyone knows that Lance Armstrong has admitting to doping in order to win his 7 Tours De France. Those who follow the sport of bicycle racing closely also know, or believe to know, that the sport's governing body may have been complicit in helping Armstrong cheat his way to the top. In the aftermath of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) Reasoned Decision against Armstrong, USADA, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), the International Cycling Union (UCI), and other groups such as Change Cycling Now (CCN), have been engaged in a back and forth but otherwise fruitless pissing contest of a press release battle. The UCI at one point established a supposedly Independent Commission to investigate its links to Armstrong, but just yesterday shut it down without providing requested information to the commission.

The net result of three months of work following the Reason Decision is zero. Absolutely nothing has changed. The people most responsible for this dark era of cycling are still in place. The deniers continue to believe that Lance Armstrong was not wrong for doing what he did. No one else who has been implicated in any of the wider doping conspiracies are being taken to task. I also do not believe that the riders themselves will do what is necessary to affect change. The fans will continue to follow the sport no matter what. So it is incumbent upon the cycling media to band together and take a stand. They need to threaten a blackout of the sport.

Considering what we've seen so far, from riders to team personnel to certain backers of Lance Armstrong to those in power, outright asking any of them to do anything is a pipe dream. I believe that the UCI's own hubris has blinded it to the reality of the situation. Those within who are drunk with power believe they are untouchable. It is time to remind them that they are not. I think the only way to do this is to take their crown jewels, their cash cows, away from the public. If no one can watch a particular race, the sponsors lose exposure. The bicycle industry in general also loses positive exposure. No one sees their products being ridden by or on the backs of those who would animate the race. And when sponsors aren't happy, no body is happy. When Scrooge McDuck can't swim in a pool of money, as the likes of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuiad (past and current presidents of the UCI) are keen to do, changes get made. It's time to drain the pool.

To be clear, I'm not trying to put the media at risk of going out of business, and I recognize the challenges that they may face in undertaking this action. What I am proposing is that those in charge at publications like Velonews, Cyclingnews, Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport, Peloton Magazine, La Gazzetta Dello Sport, and L'Equipe, among others, as well as broadcasters like Eurosport, Sporza, Sky, RAI, SBS, Universal Sports, and Versus all come together and put out a mandate that unless the UCI changes, they will not cover the UCI's top level World Tour events. These are the events like the spring classics, such as Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, stage races like the Dauphine, and the grand tours of the Giro, Le Tour, and Vuelta. Essentially a full media blackout of the events that make the most money. It would not be a total blackout, however; all of those entities would full and well be able to continue to cover any news from the industry itself, as well as smaller continental, regional and local races. But they should threaten to cut off the public's access to the bigger events. The ones that everyone wants to see. The ones that feed and support the long-standing corruption at the UCI.

If anyone thinks that the current path will lead to change, you need to remove yourself from the debate. You are wrong. The UCI shut down it's own investigative panel. It spent years backing Armstrong's claim of innocence. It has tried to silence many before me who have questioned it, like Floyd Landis, Paul Kimmage, and David Walsh. Many of the people most responsible for the drugs epidemic; team directors like Bjarne Riis and Johan Bruyneel, as well as notorious doctors Michele Ferrari and Eufemiano Fuentes, have all been uncooperative and defiant in the face of so many allegations against them. The riders themselves only protest when the police enforce doping laws, and want everyone to just move on. Based on the way the fans gave Lance a 'carte jaune' to operate, we can't expect them to properly organize and motivate change on their own. That leaves the media. The one group with the true power to shut it down. Or at least threaten to do so. Sure, the UCI might survive a lack of coverage for some events. But I doubt seriously it would survive a nuclear option such as a blacked out Paris-Roubaix

I do love the sport, in case you thought otherwise. I want to see it continue and prosper. But I am sick and tired of the same crap that has been going on for decades without any recourse. Because of my intent to attempt the Hour Record, I consider myself to be vested in this process. I cannot support the UCI in its current state. If I am to make a legitimate attempt, I have no choice to do so. I have to buy a license from USA Cycling, whom I also have qualms against due to their relationships with Lance. I have to pay the UCI to verify and validate my attempt. I have to pay for a UCI official to be on hand during the attempt. With the current doped and re-infused blood on it's hands, I do not want to give a single cent of my or my sponsors money to this corrupt organization. That is why this matters to me. And that is why I am asking the cycling media to help.

No comments:

Post a Comment