Cycling legend Greg LeMond has thrown his hat in the ring for the presidency of cycling’s beleaguered international governing body.
The three-time Tour de France winner announced today that he’s in the running to replace Pat McQuaid at the next election in March.
McQuaid has been president since he took over from Hein Verbruggen in 2005. Verbruggen has been named honorary president for life, but the two of them have faced calls to step down over accusations they didn’t do enough to stem the tide of doping in the Armstrong era. Floyd Landis has even accused the UCI of covering up Armstrong’s positive test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.
LeMond certainly has the credibility to take over as president, having been an outspoken critic of Armstrong, doping and the UCI for years. As a result, Armstrong allegedly used his influence to harm LeMond’s business interests: He claims Armstrong conducted a smear campaign and influenced sponsor Trek Bicycles to shelve the LeMond brand. Lawsuits followed and the issue was eventually settled out of court, apparently in LeMond’s favour.
In addition, McQuaid has threatened legal action against LeMond, though in the end nothing came of it.
It appears LeMond was urged to run for the presidency by Change Cycling Now, a pressure group dedicated to reforming cycling and, more specifically, to ousting McQuaid.
The latter won’t be easy, as outlined on the excellent cycling blog, inrng.com. And the question remains whether LeMond is the best choice to replace him. Being an outspoken critic is one thing; leading an international organization that has been run as an old boys’ club since time immemorial is another altogether.
But LeMond has already been the prime mover in modernizing the sport in other ways. He wasn’t the first North American to break into the tradition-bound European professional cycling scene, but he was the first to taste big-time success. He also helped introduce triathlon bars, aero helmets and clipless pedals to a wider audience.
One thing seems clear, though, is that something has to change for the sport to move forward.