Former Fifa chief calls for cycling shake-up

8 November 2012 | Posted in Notes & Insights | By David Cushnan | Contact the author

Former Fifa chief calls for cycling shake-up

International Centre for Sport Security director Chris Eaton pictured at the International Sports Event Management conference in London on Wednesday 7th November.

The sport of cycling carries "an awful lot of now-cynical weight to it" in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair, according to one of sport's leading global security experts.

Chris Eaton, director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, a Qatar-based organisation which brings together experts in the field, believes cycling's governing body, the UCI, must "put in place mechanisms that are so obvious to the public and to the media" in the coming months following its decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.

Asked on stage at the International Sports Event Management conference in London on Wednesday whether a mea culpa was the only course of action, Eaton said: "Cycling's got to do more than that. I'm sure they realise that."

He added of Armstrong: "His ten years of denial, his great respect that was given to him by so many people, carries an awful lot of now-cynical weight to it. Who can we believe today when an athlete of his background, his propensity for denial and his surviving of such an outstandingly difficult cancer problem and still compete at the highest level, we now know cheated? 

"The cynicism follows at the fanbase and at the sponsorship level - and you're already seeing some sponsorship fallout here."

The UCI has already announced the formation of a three-man independent commission, which will report no later than June next year, to look into various allegations of doping.

Eaton said: "The sport itself must address this in a very transparent and a very open way....so that the consequences that follow are not simply a slap on the wrist, they are very serious, so that there is a lot of persuasion for those athletes, administrators and officials in place - that there will be negative consequences for their involvement in criminality."

Eaton, a former head of security at world soccer governing body Fifa, added that it is high-time sports federations across the board "put in place transparent integrity procedures, not just lip service, smoke and mirrors".

He added: "Multi-national companies wouldn't survive in the world of commerce if they didn't do that. Sporting bodies are still operating very much, in my view, like clubs - best friends to each other, employing family members, looking for people who they are comfortable with to work with in sporting administrations.

"Today, the amount of money generated by sport means you're a big business so you have to operate like a big business."

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