The Week in Ethics: Why UCI is Wrong and Armstrong Can’t be “Forgotten”

What International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said at a news conference October 22,2012 revealed more about UCI’s culture than it said about Armstrong: ”Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling. This is a landmark day for cycling.”

Granted UCI (cycling governing body) has an embarrassment factor it would like to forget: it indicated that Armstrong had beaten the anti-doping system for drug testing — including the  218 times it says it tested Armstrong without a positive reading. UCI will not appeal the sanctions (and findings of the report) issued by the United States Anti-Doping Agency against  Armstrong. He will be stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and banned from the sport for life.

Ban a man, wipe out an embarrassing  chapter in cycling history?

That delusional approach might stand a better chance if  doping in cycling hadn’t been allowed to exist for generations, embedded in the culture, before Armstrong appeared on the scene. His contribution took beating the system to a whole new level.

Remembering Armstrong, others who’ve been caught and winners who escaped detection, is the best way for UCI to begin its understanding of its own role, and that of anti-doping agencies and others, in creating the culture they should commit to changing.

Whether it is Wall Street or cyclists pedaling on the streets of France, the obsession to win, to rationalize actions in order to compete on a so-called “level playing field” creates a short-term win that destroys long-term sustainability.

Organizations get the culture they foster.  Fighting fire with fire generally means in the long run everyone gets burned.

Gael O’Brien      October 22, 2012

The Week in Ethics

Gael O’Brien is also a columnist for Business Ethics Magazine. Her September  2012 column is about CEO Compensation and retiring the rock star myth

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2 Comments on “The Week in Ethics: Why UCI is Wrong and Armstrong Can’t be “Forgotten””

  1. Murray Schrantz Says:

    It always leaves me cold when organizations try to deflect blame by focusing on the faults of others. UCI has been so blatantly inept at dealing with the issue of doping that simply piling onto the Lance Armstrong revelations hardly addresses any of their culpability or, better yet, proposes a long term solution..


  2. [...] biographer); former Penn State University President Graham Spanier (criminal charges filed); and Lance Armstrong (stripped of all seven Tour de France [...]


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