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International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid has said a number of times in recent weeks that he is determined to sweep the curse of doping out of cycling, and the Irishman is making his first moves in that direction by outlining his plans for a complete review of cycling.
Interviewed in this Wednesday's edition of Swiss weekly L'Illustre, McQuaid admitted doping had been "an an integral part" of the sport for decades and that a major upheaval of professional cycling was needed within two years to combat this ongoing problem. Among proposals McQuaid is considering are a reduction in the length of some stage races, an increase in rest days and a potential limit on the number of days riders compete each season. He also said that "if the results dictate it, we will drastically change our regulations and the way we work from the 2008 season."
The Irish president of the UCI explained that any review of the sport would draw on the experience of a range of experts "to make it credible". He added: "For the UCI, the time for facile excuses or for pardoning (people) is definitely past. This is a war without concessions against doping."
He explained that this war would be targeted at the pro scene, insisting that lower levels were both drug-free and thriving. "It's professional cycling that's ill. I have to admit that four decades marred by scandals shows that the culture of doping is an integral part of cycling. But the UCI has never been more determined to break this infernal spiral."
McQuaid, though, warned it would be impossible to forever do away with the spectre of doping. "There are cheats in sport just as there are in business, in politics or in religion. That said, it's no reason to give up the struggle," he stated.
In the interview, McQuaid also took aim once again at the World Anti-Doping Agency, suggesting that the organisation kept the positive testosterone test recorded by Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin under wraps. "WADA is not beyond reproach. I'll remind you that it knew about Gatlin's doping since April and didn't say anything."
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