sport

UCI feeling heat from sponsors

One of the UCI's sponsors ahs claimed the organisation was "complicit" in sweeping the Lance Armstrong doping scandal under the carpet.

Jaimie Fuller, chairman of the Australian sportswear firm Skins that has ploughed around 10million US dollars into the UCI over the last five years, says the scandal has caused reputational damage to the sponsors.

The firm has served a legal notice on the UCI claiming 2million dollars (1.25m) in compensation.

Fuller said: "This is a ground-breaking move and it's one of those situations that could become case law for the future.

"When a sport is in trouble you look to the international federation to help it through. It's a pretty rare situation where the international federation is actually complicit in what was going on."

Fuller also claimed that UCI president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor and honorary president Hein Verbruggen needed to accept responsibility for the failure to deal with Armstrong, who was last month stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

"These two gentleman have sat at the top of world cycling for 22 years and they need to be accountable for what they did and did not do," said Fuller.

Meanwhile, British cyclist David Millar says the UCI need to make a full apology.

Millar told the Guardian: "The UCI need to be very careful, because the momentum is rolling too fast for them to control it. Just as with Lance Armstrong, we'll reach another tipping point soon. I sense the same looming crash with the UCI - unless they act decisively.

"I don't think they realise what everyone needs is immediate action. They're trying to go through the usual sports politics way of trying to ride this out until people forget about it. These are career sports politicians. But they cannot evade this any longer. They have to act quickly or they're going to face a total revolt and they'll be out anyway.

"Now there is a public awakening and the UCI will be in real trouble unless they make a full apology. There seems to be some unbreakable alliance between McQuaid and Verbruggen. Pat needs to cut that cord and move forward. He needs to wake up to the fact that some revolutions become unstoppable."

McQuaid and Verbruggen did not respond to requests to comment on Fuller's claims.