New Delhi: International Cycling Union (UCI) chief Pat McQuaid feels that India should have grown faster in the sport after getting a launchpad like the 2010 Commonwealth Games. McQuaid, here for the Asian Cycling Championships, said India could have done a lot more after getting the infrastructure in place.
"The velodrome here is one of the best in Asia and I heard it was shut for about two years after the Commonwealth Games. During my time in India, I will be talking to officials here on how to make full use of this facility," said McQuaid, who himself is a former cyclist from Ireland and has been the UCI president since 2006.
Setting up a UCI-affiliated academy is one of the ways to use the Indira Gandhi velodrome round the year. McQuaid said he was in talks with the Cycle Federation of India (CFI) on the matter. "There are discussions going on and it has also happened in the past. We are looking for a private-public partnership for the maintenance of the stadium. If everything works out, we can have more big events likes these in India besides the academy," said the 63-year-old on the venue owned by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
If things go as planned, India will be one of the few countries in the world to have a UCI academy after Switzerland and two continental set-ups in Japan and Africa. While the local bodies will be responsible for the running of the place, UCI will provide coaches and the technical know-how.
The conversation soon turned to Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles and an Olympic bronze in the wake of his confessing to systematic doping. "Well, doping is in all sports. It is not confined to cycling. The products that were used 15 years ago were undetectable. There were no systems to test them. Now, UCI has a biological passport for every rider. It is the only sporting federation in the world which has a full bio-passport programme. We are constantly updating our regulations and things are much better than what it was 15 years ago," said the Irishman.
Asked what impact Armstrong's revelations would have on cycling world over, McQuaid said: "It doesn't affect the sport. We are moving forward in the right direction. As far as the audience goes, we saw a record 1.5 million people watch the road races at the London Olympics. The focus now is on having more events like Tour de France around the world."