Lemond throws his stetson into the ring

Greg Lemond for UCI president? is somebody scripting this?

as a rider he was the first (and now only – ah, the irony) American winner of the Tour de France, the man who returned from death’s door after being shot in the heart to win a second and third Tour, and a two-time World Champion. as an ex-rider he built up a moderately successful bike brand in association with Trek, then began to criticise a certain Texan, was isolated and vilified for his comments on doping, got screwed by Trek (LA’s staunch supporter), and was forced to apologise to the former by the head of the company, John Burke, for said comments about doping.

Lemond also got fat, was further derided as a lot of a nutcase by the ruling body, fellow cyclists and fans alike, started a relatively unsuccessful indoor trainer brand, slimmed down, then suddenly found himself exonerated as the truth of LA’s career-long drug binge was exposed, along with the ‘double standards’ of the UCI.

Greg's pulled this face a lot in the last decade or so
Greg’s pulled this face a lot in the last decade or so

could our all-American boy next door complete this incredible journey with a real coup d’etat and actually become the next president of the UCI? well, why the heck not? if you want a reasoned, well-thought out answer to that question, best not ask Mr. Armstrong, not indeed Pat McQuaid. they’re curently spitting feathers by the truckload and are unavailable for any comment other than pfffffffffffft! pffffffffffffffffft! pffffffffffffshhhhhhhhhtttttttttt!

you know, if Greg isn’t serious at all about this and is only doing it to wind up those two, i would still applaud him. but it seems he is serious, if the reports in the cycling media and from the Change Cycling Now group are anything to go by. is he qualified for the job? first off, it’s important to note that he has said himself that he sees the role as being merely temporary until a ‘more suitable’ candidate is found, and that he’s mentioned Dick Pound as a viable long-term candidate. but then why offer, if Pound could step in himself to a leadership contest (scheduled for March 2013)?

Dick Pound
Dick Pound

i have a feeling that Lemond would quite fancy having a proper go at this job. he has said himself that he may not be best qualified to lead a federation, perhaps not statesmanlike enough, but his supporters would counter that cycling has been under the stewardship of two statesmen since ’91 til now, with Verbruggen and McQuaid at the helm, and the current state of the sport could not be more wretched, certainly not in terms of the public’s perception of it.

does Lemond have the necessary social skills to pull everyone at the UCI, WADA, USADA and the other national federations together? for a man who’s been perceived through the years as divisive, petty and selfish, it may seem a good question, had those who branded the Californian divisive, petty and selfish not had their heads stuck up Armstrong’s backside. as it is, Lemond seems intelligent enough and strong enough to do the job. and even if he does get some peoples’ backs up at times, isn’t this what we need right now? i don’t want a mediator or a spin doctor, i want someone with a big broom and the will to use it. he’s spoken of getting rid of the old guard and of getting Pound and Ashenden back on board, and with a team like that it would be impossible – literally-  to do worse than the current regime.

has he got the experience? in two areas it is impossible to argue against Lemond’s qualifications. first of all, he was a champion of the highest pedigree. having been a rider himself at the top level he fully understands the pressures that the doping culture brings, and is aware of the role that the authorities must play to prevent that culture taking over again. secondly, there are not many people in the cycling world with a more rounded understanding of the technology of doping. having faced McQuaid and LA several times, Lemond had to be prepared to argue his corner and equipped himself to do so. he also knows the history of the UCI inside out.

lastly, does he have the backing required to become president and to be an effective leader? he has started off well, with the names at Change Cycling Now behind him. the fans, on the whole, seem to be ready to support him. some professionals may have reservations but, as Lemond said, the majority of riders “do not understand that if we continue like this, there will soon be no money in cycling.” he would not be willing to pander to stars nor their high-profile managers. a Lemond presidency might be messy but there’s a whole lot of cleaning house to be done.

i’m not quite ready to endorse Lemond for President, not just yet. i want to hear more concrete plans on how CCN intends to implement the changes it desires in the sport. if they can provide a blueprint to achieve what they’ve stated in their Charter of the Willing (as listed below), then i see no reason why Lemond, backed by the members of CCN and with Ashenden on board, shouldn’t become the next president of the UCI.

The Lemond Story may yet have a few more chapters…

______________________________________

Extract from The Charter of the Willing detailing the change that CCN wants to see in the UCI:

The UCI:

a) must act all times act in the best interests of the riders’ health and wellbeing;
b) must change the individuals within the UCI who have acted contrary to the interests of the sport;
c) must change the roles that have disproportionate influence in the organization;
d) must restore faith and belief in the sport;
e) must recognise fans as key stakeholders;
f) must develop a cultural shift from being exclusionary and secretive to one of transparency and openness;
g) shall develop a voice which is not dictatorial and aggressive but recognises strong leadership which promotes confidence, trust, unity and transparency;
h) shall develop collegiate and cooperative relationships with riders, teams, members, licensees, stakeholders, anti-doping practitioners and authorities.

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