AUSTRALIA'S national road champion Simon Gerrans has called on cycling's world governing body to bring in compulsory life bans for drug cheats after the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
While the three-time grand tour stage winner said he accepted the Olympic victory of Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov in the London Games road race, Gerrans said any rider who used performance-enhancing drugs from now on should not get the benefit of a second chance.
''I understand there are different levels of doing the wrong thing, but if someone is really caught cheating they should be out for life; for any blood doping, any intentional cheating,'' Gerrans said.
''There's obviously a big grey area there, but I think if someone's caught doing EPO or steroids, or something where they're really intending to cheat and do the wrong thing, I think they should be out for life. It needs to come from the top. The UCI needs to set the bar, the standard.''
In an extended interview with Fairfax Media, in which he discussed his views on drugs and declared himself a rider who had always competed clean, Gerrans said he welcomed the hiring of independent anti-doping expert Nicki Vance by his Australian professional team Orica-GreenEDGE. Vance is to conduct interviews with all coaches, riders and officials about their knowledge - and possibly their history - of doping, and examine team policies on the matter.
On the subject of Orica-GreenEDGE director Neil Stephens and rider Allan Davis, who were implicated in separate doping scandals but never punished because of insufficient evidence, Gerrans said: ''I think it can only be a good thing if she [Vance] comes in and independently reviews the team, reviews everybody involved in the team, what they've potentially done in the past and obviously what it's going to be like going forward. I think that's going to be a really good thing. And I guess if there's anything there that those guys have got to worry about, then Nicki is there to sort that out. That gives me a sense of reassurance.''
Highlighting serious issues faced by the UCI, and international anti-doping agencies, as the sport tries to deal with the wider fallout of Armstrong's undoing, Gerrans said there was no incentive for former dopers to come clean. While he does not support an amnesty for dopers, Gerrans called on the UCI to devise a strategy to cleanse the sport but still protect the industry. His fear is that there may be few people left in the sport qualified to hold position of authority if every former rider who doped is ostracised.
''There's many, many guys within cycling now who have obviously been involved in stuff in the past and they're going on like nothing ever happened. It [doping] was so rife in the sport 15 or 20 years ago … and the people that were racing back then are the ones that are running the sport now. So I don't think you can take all those people away,'' Gerrans said.
''I dare say there wouldn't be many people running teams, directors and stuff, that are involved now that weren't involved back then. And you can't just punish the ones that put their hand up, because no one will put their hand up.''