A letter from the President of MTBA

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Words by MTBA and Damian Breach | Images by MTBA

In my message to you on 30 September, I flagged potential changes to the way that your association is led and managed.

These would have required constitutional change and these proposed changes had been prepared, leading towards a Special General Meeting of the association on 10 November. During their preparation, the sport of cycling has been rocked by the drugs-in-sport revelations about Lance Armstrong and closer to home, Matt White and Stephen Hodge. Cycling Australia has taken prompt and decisive action in those matters and while I applaud that action the reputation damage to cycling should not be underestimated.

However, in that process, certain shortcomings in the MTBA constitution have been identified and we now need to take prompt action to rectify them. Accordingly, the Special General Meeting scheduled for 10 November has been delayed to 8 December. This will allow us to properly prepare the additional changes, with legal advice from ASADA and the Australian Sports Commission, and to advise the membership in sufficient time to hold this meeting. These additional changes will reflect matters dealing with the use and/or supply of performance enhancing drugs in sport and the ineligibility of people with such a history for office within MTBA. This delay also means that the 2012 Annual General Meeting will now take place in early 2013.

I wish to make my position on the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport abundantly clear. I abhor them and they represent a tarnishing blight on sport, creating an environment in which drug cheats damage the reputation of the whole sport and deny rightful team placings and professional careers to clean athletes. In short, I would rather our riders come 50th clean, than win dirty. Cheating is not the Australian way.

While mountain biking is an international sport in its own right, it is also an introductory and pathway sport to road cycling for many riders. We have an obligation to young riders entering our sport, and to their parents, to provide them with a safe and drug-free environment in which to begin their sporting careers and develop their personal sporting values. We must never forget that we are the first exposure to competitive cycling for many young Australians. We also have obligations to those who support our sport, from Governments through Sponsors to the countless volunteers without whom mountain biking would not happen in Australia.

I will be proposing to the MTBA Management Committee for their approval, that the MTBA Management Committee, Staff, Selectors, Coaches, Managers and Contractors sign statements reflecting their non- involvement in performance enhancing drugs. We will also look to those who act as role models and mentors for our riders as they enter the top-level competitive ranks, and seek the same commitment from them. We already require similar commitment from our riders when they are selected to national teams and development squads. We should have no issue in asking for the same commitment from those who influence them, manage them and manage their sport.

In advance of this, I take pride in making my declaration that; I have never taken performance enhancing drugs, I have not been involved in their supply or distribution, nor have I promoted their use. Should the subsequent legal advice from ASADA or the ASC require a different or stronger statement, I will sign that.

Should you wish to contact me directly on these matters, or any other matters to do with our great sport, my email address is below.

 [signed]

Russell Baker AM
President, Mountain Bike Australia [email protected]

24 October 2012

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