UCI employing former doper – man behind MTN-Qhubeka feeder team also responsible for development of African talent

Speaking last week ahead of the release of the findings of the CIRC report, UCI President Brian Cookson spoke of the need to ‘define who is a fit and proper person’ to have in the sport.

“We want to be able to look at what happened in order to avoid falling into the same traps,” he said. “We would also like to have some guidelines to help us, for example, with defining who is a fit and proper person to work in or around a team – bosses, coaches, directeurs sportifs, doctors etc. We need clear ethical criteria that allow for a proper assessment.”

It appears that the need for such guidelines is as pressing as ever given the fact that even the UCI does not seem quite sure how to decide who is fit and proper even when it comes to their own recruitment, as at least one former doper is in their employ.

Jean-Pierre van Zyl (known as JP) is a former South African professional cyclist who is the director of the African Continental Centre and also the man at the helm for MTN-Qhubeka’s feeder team, as well as being a delegate for the UCI. JP is also known to some as a rider who tested positive in 1999 for the banned substance Testosterone/Epitestsotrone.

JP van Zyl is also described as being a ‘mentor’ to Daniel Teklehaimanot, the Eritrean rider who signed for GreenEdge in 2012 and who now rides for MTN-Qhubeka.

Cookson definitely knows who van Zyl is, as the two are pictured here outside the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, just last year. This very image appeared on the UCI website.

JP van Zyl, left
JP van Zyl, left

Once again the depth of the problem in our sport is revealed by the long tendrils of doping. The sooner these ‘guidelines’ are revealed to us the better – and I am sure Brian Cookson will agree.

JP van Zyl’s connection to MTN-Qhubeka is one that will raise eyebrows, as the team’s founder Douglas Ryder is known for strong anti-doping comments.

On February 23rd this year, Ryder was quoted on The Outer Line saying “Why should people who cheated in the past continue to earn their living in pro cycling now? It’s not fair.”

Indeed it’s not. What will happen next remains to be seen.



Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

5 thoughts

  1. While I appreciate naming and shaming, this is going to go like Sky’s sudden discovery that they had hired Rasmussen’s doctor/prepatore. Blah, blah, blah …. vaguely sort of plausible excuse …. Blah, blah, blah… Claims don’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny… No follow up….

    Interestingly enough, the nothingBurger that is the CIRC report strikes out at both Makarov and Kazhakstan. Clearly, the right people are not pleased with both.

  2. Also, developing racing in Africa has been a longtime project for the UCI. Suspected doper Chris Froome came through the same program being discussed and was tested at the UCI headquarters and found to be like so many, elite, but did not win the big genetic lottery prize.

    Years later, he podiums a grand tour. That makes perfect sense.

    1. Getting absolutely nothing back on this yet, pretty unsurprising. Talking to Mr. Ryder tomorrow I hope, head of MTN team. Tweeted to Mr Cookson but nothing there either 😉

  3. Doping is still in an issue especially in Africa where many races do not have dope control and veteran riders know this. Team Rwanda believes racing clean and always will. We follow a holistic approach to nutrition…our guys won’t even touch a Fanta! Team Rwanda cyclists are advocates for a clean sport.

Leave a Reply