The IOC says that it was a problem of time, but as UCI leader Patrick McQuaid deals with a hailstorm of controversy at the home office, I can’t help but think that this is the sporting version of a corporate CEO stepping down to “spend more time with his family” or “pursuing other opportunities”. Is this a step towards resignation from the UCI itself?
International Cycling Union (UCI) chief Pat McQuaid has stepped down as member of the International Olympic Committee panel evaluating 2020 Games bids, citing time constraints, the IOC said on Wednesday.
McQuaid is in the midst of the fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping affair and under fire for the UCI’s overall handling of the scandal but IOC officials cited a busy schedule for the Irish sports administrator’s departure from the commission.
“It was a problem of time for him,” an IOC source told Reuters.
“McQuaid could not make all three visits in March (to the bid cities) so he excused himself.”
The evaluation commission will visit the three bid cities – Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid – before drafting a final report to IOC members, who will elect the winning city in September.
McQuaid has been replaced on the evaluation commission by international basketball federation (FIBA) Secretary General Patrick Baumann, the IOC said on its website.
Armstrong ended years of denial last week by admitting to chat show host Oprah Winfrey that he had used banned, performance-enhancing drugs for his seven Tour de France victories.
The UCI annulled all of Armstrong’s results from August 1998, including the seven Tour de France wins, after a report by the U.S. Anti-doping Agency (USADA) last year suggested the American took performance-enhancing drugs.
McQuaid and his predecessor and honorary UCI president Hein Verbruggen, a former IOC member, have been heavily criticised for the federation’s handling of one of the biggest doping scandals to hit professional sports.
The UCI has admitted to accepting a $100,000 donation by Armstrong in the past and Verbruggen said this week the UCI had warned riders, including Armstrong, of suspect doping tests in the past in a bid to warn them off using banned substances.
IOC President Jacques Rogge has called it “a conflict of interest” and an “error” on the part of the UCI. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)