Good news among the bad on BBC Radio Five Live’s tabloid titled: “Peddlers – Cycling’s Dirty Truth” programme tonight.
David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) seems not to have entirely ruled out the prospect of one day standing for the role of UCI president.
The Scot, reborn as an anti-doping crusader after serving a two-year ban from 2004 for taking EPO while a member of the Cofidis squad, told presenter, Mark Chapman, that one day he might be prepared to battle bureaucracy to clean up the sport.
Who better, many will say, this correspondent included. Millar has continually proved his integrity since his earlier misdemeanor.
He serves on WADA’s athletes committee, has posted some fine results as a clean cyclist, and most recently, called on the UCI’s Honorary President, Hein Verbruggen, the man who ran the sport during an era in which EPO use in the peloton was rife, to resign.
During tonight’s broadcast, Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong at US Postal, and who was banned for two years in 2004 for blood doping, suggested French former rider, Christophe Bassons, a rider known as Mr Clean for his refusal to take drugs, and who retired from the sport after being ostracized by an Armstrong-led peloton, as the new president of the UCI.
In a translated interview, Bassons, now a sports professor, thanked Hamilton for the ‘recognition’, but said the work of the UCI was about “fancy hotels” and meals.
Chapman asked studio guest, Jeremy Whittle, a Times journalist and co-author of Millar’s autobiography, Racing Through The Dark: “Could you see a situation where a former rider and anti-doping lobbyist runs the UCI?” He then asked Millar: “Is that something you could do in the future, David?”
Millar replied that the wouldn’t know where to begin in such a role, describing himself as ‘borderline vigilante’ rather than politician. But he continued: “I’ll be honest with you, it’s in the back of mind that maybe in a few years time I would like to go through the bureaucracy, to go there, simply because I think I could make a difference and I’d be doing it for the right reasons.
“I’m already understanding how it all works in the sense that I can speak to the director general of WADA, I can speak to the president of the UCI, and I can speak to people and I can try and make a difference. I do know I’m making a difference, I know many of us are making a difference. It’s something that I might do.”
Cycling has never been in greater need of a fresh start, not even in the dark days of Festina. Millar, who has himself lived through dark times, while unflinchingly realistic about the scale of the challenge facing the sport, remains positive.
He spoke impressively in tonight’s broadcast about the statement made Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory, and about the strides made by the sport in recent years. “It is a sad and sorry tale, all of this. But the bottom line is, where the sport is now, it is different, it has moved on, and we are at the vanguard of the anti-doping movement.”
Few would question Millar’s motives were he to run for office at the UCI. Who would your money be on to effect a greater change in the sport? David Millar or any who have run the sport in recent years?