Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The REAL Union Cyclisme Internationale -- UCI in Africa

I have tried most diligently to stay out of this whole Lance Armstrong scandal.  I want no part of the most negative spin on the sport I love so passionately.  However, it is difficult working in the cycling world, everyone wants your opinion.  Yes, I do have more personal inside information than the biased media fire hose blasts the public with on a streaming basis.  Sadly, I just want it all to go away.  It erodes the essence of the sport, what makes cycling so personal, public and passionate.  It is a mudslide gathering momentum minute by minute taking out land, trees and houses in its path.  A house in this path is the UCI, the international cycling body of the sport, the world governing body of cycling.

I am breaking my silence, giving my view of things from my wooden chair in Rwanda because of this phrase posted on Facebook by yet another person who really doesn't understand the full scope of the UCI.  

"UCI is going down.  Its about time" (Yes, another bad speller too...should be "It's")

This phrase is spouted out of ignorance, no offense to the speaker.  Ignorance is lack of fact or knowledge.  The media does not give us facts, they give us their spin of the facts especially in today's world of "journalism".  

Let me give you facts about the UCI.

Team Rwanda would be at a significant disadvantage without the support of the UCI.  The UCI has supported us whenever we have requested and even when we haven't known to request.  This summer when we were in Switzerland, Jock called Pat McQuaid and Frederique Magne and asked to meet.  Two days later he walked into the offices in Agile, Switzerland and sat down one on one with Pat, the unfortunate mis-target of "Lancegate".

UCI is instrumental to cycling in Africa.  Without UCI, African cycling would struggle to continue growing at the current pace.  UCI goes down, African cycling will be the collateral damage.  Ironically the person who posted this is African, Nigerian, riding in the US.  

UCI provides not only equipment -- all 12 of our race bikes (Merckx and Canyons with Campy Record 11 gruppos) are donated to us through the UCI.  They also provide coaching assistance, sending us a coach with 30+ years of experience last year to us for two weeks.  Team Rwanda paid zero for his visit.

The UCI has provided a Rwandan with the opportunity to train at their coaching course in Switzerland for two months.  Again, Team Rwanda paid zero and this Rwandan coach will now be the Director Sportif at the Continental Championships in Burkina Faso next month.  UCI is helping Team Rwanda build sustainability.

In the summer of 2011, Gasore and Nicodem trained for three months at the UCI Center in Agile.  Our cost?  Two plane tickets to Switzerland.

Every year, twice a year, we are able to send two riders to the UCI Training Center in South Africa.  Right now Janvier and Joseph are there for the second time.  At this center they have the opportunity to perfect their race skills with weekly racing in and around Johannesburg, something we could never give them in Rwanda.  Our cost?  Two plane tickets and rider insurance.

Next year, Jock, Max and I will be heading to Ethiopia to assist the Ethiopian Cycling Federation with equipment, training, nutrition and setting up a mechanic training program.  The Ethiopian's talent rivals and perhaps surpasses the natural God given talent of Rwandans.  The UCI has offered an additional coach and bicycles for a junior program in Ethiopia.  Our cost...zero.

The UCI has helped us start two UCI sanctioned races in Rwanda, Kwita Izina and the Tour of Rwanda.  They provide us top notch commissaires and have also initiated a commissairies training program in Rwanda.  The President of the Jury personnel they have sent each year are professional, experienced and also patient with teaching all of us (African Director Sportifs) the rules of the race.

And yes, we have dope control at our races and it is taken seriously.

On any given day, we can email, pick up the phone or walk in the door at UCI and there is someone who is there to help us including Pat McQuaid.  

This is our UCI....you take them down you inadvertently take down Team Rwanda and the developing cycling nations in Africa.  

The only response I will give in regards to Lance et al....they were all adults, made adult albeit incredibly selfish decisions to do what they did....ALL of them.  UCI did not force them to dope, did not condone it and did not cover it up.  It is not a JFK assassination level conspiracy.  Adults doped, adults got caught and it is a hen house feeding frenzy interpersonal attack of epic proportions.  Each one throwing the other under the bus.  It is pathetic in my view and sadly, the prima donnas of the sport in their quest to place blame on any and all accept themselves could wipe out the chance for the most talented and most in need in the sport....the Africans.


  1. I for one don't think the UCI needs to go away - but they need to look very seriously at themselves (in this situation) and be honest with themselves about what they did or did not do.

    I don't think you are in a position to know that there wasn't any sort of cover up or conspiracy, just as Hein wasn't in a position to say that Lance "never, never, never" doped.

    Everything I've heard from HV recently has been disgraceful and embarrassing. Pat seems to be quiet, which is better, for now.

    Why are they suing Paul Kimmage?

    They can treat African cycling well and do right by you and still have behaved badly or corruptly with regards to professional cycling. These aren't mutually exclusive.

    1. I agree with you Johnny on the point of looking at the organization and having a real "come to Jesus" look at what could have/should have been done differently. I am not in a position to know of a cover up or conspiracy, and I didn't say that I was. I said it has become that way in the media.

      What I have found with the media is that the intent to sensationalize stories often trumps a well rounded look at all the facts and variables. I believe this is true with the crucifixion of the UCI in the press.

      I cannot/will not comment on the suing of Paul Kimmage simply because I do not know the details and what is in the press is suspect. Perhaps I am a bit jaded with the press due to the Presidential elections.

      One thing I will disagree with you on is that you can't be as evil as the press has depicted you and be saintly on the other hand, as the "saintly" would easily be found out to be ingenious. The truth is, the UCI has done right by African Cycling on a myriad of levels. It is a genuine commitment to the advancement of cycling on this continent.

      Thank you for your comment.

    2. This needs to be said.. The UCI is complicit in the doping era. Verbruggen and McQuaid are dirty and very corrupt. Cycling will be much better off once we get rid of them. For the sake of cycling and especially the athletes that put so much on the line, these fat cats need to resign. If Pat truly cared about cycling he would resign. The fact that he stubbornly refuses to accept any responsibility should be the biggest red flag!

  2. I agree with Johnny. The two at the top must go. African cycling will still be fine. Thanks to Boyer and others like you. What of all the non doping cyclists who were cheated out of their vocation and passion.

    1. Ultimately it's about the athletes, I want to see all riders, especially our African riders, have a fair shot in a clean sport but it has to start with the guys who decide, and it is a conscious decision, to dope. Perhaps I'm a bit Pollyanna, but can't we all just agree to do the right thing? In all things?

      In Team Rwanda we teach significantly more than bike racing. I have always said, if we teach them to be great cyclists but poor human beings we have failed.

    2. Agreed. Where can I make a donation to help your efforts??

      My eMail is srfh2@yahoo.com
      Sincerely,Frank Havnoonian