Olympics Could Drop Cycling If Armstrong's Thursday Interview Ousts UCI Officials
Cycling could be dropped from the Olympics if Lance Armstrong reveals the sport's governing body covered up widespread doping, according to Nick Hoult of the London TELEGRAPH. Dick Pound, former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency and current member of the IOC, said that "drastic action would have to be taken" if Armstrong provides proof high ranking officials from the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) were implicated in doping. His comments follow reports in the U.S. that the Texan "is ready to testify against senior figures in the UCI and three days before Armstrong's interview by Oprah Winfrey is broadcast." Pound said, "The only way it is going to clean up is if all these people say 'Hey, we're no longer in the Olympics and that's where we want to be so let's earn our way back into it.'" Pound "has long been a critic of the UCI." He said in October in reaction to allegations Armstrong may have bribed UCI officials that it was "not credible" they did not know what was going on. Pound: "That (a possible cover-up) could be an even bigger story and that is still to come. There will be a lot of people watching for that and if in fact there was assistance from the UCI and Lance describes it, that could be the real assistance he could give to the fight and result in a reduction of his life sentence (from competition)" (TELEGRAPH, 1/16). The NEW ZEALAND HERALD wrote it is not clear if all cycling events "would face the axe from the Olympics or just the road events," but all four disciplines (road, track, BMX and mountain biking) are run by the UCI (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 1/16). Pound said that any possible changes to cycling's status "were unlikely to take effect until the next IOC presidential election," which is scheduled for August (LONDON TIMES, 1/16). The PA noted the IOC claims it is "premature" to even consider the sport's future in the Games following the Armstrong scandal. IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams said, "I think it is a little premature to talk about such things. He is basing his comments on the reports of an interview that has not yet been broadcast -- once it has been and once UCI and USADA have commented I think it will be clear the direction we will all be going" (PA, 1/16).
MORE SPORTS WORRY: REUTERS' Patrick Johnston reported Athens Olympics Gold Medalist Taufik Hidayat claimed that badminton's Olympic future "is in jeopardy" as well, "due to the continual mid-tournament retirements of leading players." Last week's $1M Korean Open "was blighted by a number of match retirements by players in the singles and doubles draws, a now common occurrence on the tour." Taufik said, "There is talk that badminton may not make it as a sport in the 2020 Olympics. We must bear in mind that other sports are strongly lobbying to be included" (REUTERS, 1/16).