Jaimie Fuller, Chairman of the compression wear company SKINS, recently filed a suit against the UCI for damages incurred as a sponsor due to mismanagement by the governing body. He followed up that action by convening a conference in London under the banner Change Cycling Now, bringing together reform advocates Greg LeMond, Michael Ashenden, David Walsh, Paul Kimmage, and others.
Fuller came to New York after the Monday press conference, and we grabbed a burger with him on Friday. I started with the question on many people’s minds.
Andy Shen: Is this all a PR maneuver? And given the fact that the UCI have banned compression wear in competition, don’t you have an axe to grind with them?
Jaimie Fuller: As far as the compression wear and the UCI are concerned, it just means nothing to me. They can keep banning it, I really don’t give a fuck. It absolutely means zip, because when they banned it, we didn’t even do socks. We’ve only just started doing socks-socks, with a foot base. We’ve done calf sleeves, but even that, the market is tiny, it’s irrelevant.
To put this in context, you have to know how it first started for me. After USADA made their first announcement, before they released the documents, and they said we’re stripping him of his titles, Armstrong came out and said I’m not going to fight it. I wrote my first blog, which was, "either fight it, or confess, don’t go the other route". And then I started watching it fairly closely, and then when USADA brought out the Reasoned Decision, I was stunned by the UCI’s response. I was stunned that their initial knee jerk reaction was "we’re going to appeal it, we’re going to question it…", and I thought, what am I missing here? Your responsibility is to look after the well being of the sport. You’re not there as Lance Armstrong’s PR machine. You’re not there to defend him. Surely the truth must come out.
And I waited, and eventually I got the shits and I wrote an open letter to Pat McQuaid, which I published in the Sydney Morning Herald. I tried to publish it in l’Equipe, I bought a full page, they accepted it, it went through their legals, and then on 8:30 on Thursday night it was pulled by, I’m told, the highest in the land, due to political reasons.
The letter said to McQuaid, get behind USADA, back them up, support them, or fuck off and let somebody else do the job you gotta do. So that came out on a Friday. At the end of the following week, McQuaid came out and said "I’m going to make a statement on Monday." Eventually it was ten or twelve days later he made that statement at that press conference, and, in my opinion, it was abysmal. He called whistleblowers ‘scumbags’, he questioned the integrity of USADA, he did the absolute bare minimum, which was to say "we will not appeal to CAS".
He had no fucking choice! And you guys know as well as I do, if Tygart hadn’t published that stuff, they would’ve appealed. And the only reason he said he wasn’t going to appeal, was that he couldn’t, ’cause it was all out there.
Dan Schmalz: Have you had any contact with anyone at the UCI before that?
DS: So you just…you brought a suit against them…
JF: I’m getting to that. I sent that open letter to McQuaid, never got any acknowledgement. So I’ve done the blog, I’ve done the open letter, he’s said what he’s said, and that really pissed me off. I was really fucking furious after his press conference. I sat down with a couple of guys, had a little bit of a strategy session. And my CEO, we’ve done some sponsorship with Bike Pure, and he said, "why don’t we sue the UCI for what we spent on Bike Pure?"
And I said, "Why stop there? Why not sue them for the whole fucking amount?" And it started to click. The fact is, when you read about our business and you read about our brand values, it’s all about the true spirit of competition. And the true spirit of competition forbids a few things, and cheating is one of them, and within cheating are drugs. Now I can show you a couple of years ago in Australia, a professional rugby team that we just signed, and it came out six weeks after we signed that they’d been cheating under the salary cap, in the millions of dollars.
Within six hours of finding this out I terminated the contract. And it was a tough decision, ’cause these guys, they’d won the competition three years out of the previous five, they were the superstars. And the deal was incredible. It was hardly any cash at all, it was all product. So you sit there and think, "Fuck, this is such a good commercial deal, maybe I should just let it slide."
No, I can’t. We’ve already advocated what our values are, we can’t be in bed with an organization that just blatantly cheats. So we terminated it. The other thing we did when we terminated it, I put out a press release, I went to the media, I was on the phone with a bunch of journalists in Australia explaining myself, ’cause when we came out with the values, we said there’s a danger, there’s a risk, we were particularly thinking about cycling, I didn’t think it would happen in rugby, we thought, there’s a risk that we’re going to get into business with somebody who’s going to be dodgy. We decided what we’re going to do the opposite of someone typical in the industry would.
What they do is geeeeeently pull back, quietly terminate and crawl away. We decided, no no no, we’re going to have a song and dance, that’s what we did. So when this stuff came up with the UCI, I said to the guys, "We could justify pulling out of cycling, we could say what we’re looking at here is activity that’s duplicitous, and that they’ve been complicit with cheating at the highest level. We could say, because of our values, we should not be partners with cycling."
We stop tomorrow, we calculate how much money we’ve spent, and it’s not just sponsorship, it’s way more than sponsorship. There’s product development, there’s marketing, there’s overhead costs. You could add it all up, deduct the gross revenue, and you end up with a negative. And I said, why can’t we sue them for that?
We spoke to our lawyers, this is on Tuesday, this is how quick this was, we spoke to our lawyers in Zug, they looked at it straightaway and said, "absolutely we think you’ve got something, but we can’t do it for you ’cause we’re in the German area you’ve got to go to the canton where the UCI are."
So we go down and start briefing the lawyer on Wednesday, the lawyer doesn’t fully understand the background, he doesn’t know what’s been going on, he’s gotta ask all these questions you’re obviously going to ask. Wednesday, Thursday, Thursday night, bingo, Kimmage.
Friday morning I go to my in house counsel, and I say "for fuck’s sake, we get a hold of Kimmage’s lawyer, ’cause it would make a helluva lot of sense to be doing it with him. He’s quicker than me; he’s already reached out to him. It’s in hand"
DS: If you wanna take a cynical view on all this, you ARE getting a load of publicity from this, even from dropping your rugby team very publicly. It would be someone accusing you of having a dark cold black heart, but it’s something you get PR out of, just ’cause your name’s in the news, you look like the knight in shining armor. How would you refute that?
JF: I can’t. It is what it is. If you take the rugby example, we either comply with industry norms and do it duplicitly, we silently back out, or we put our hand up and say we made a mistake. You talk about PR, I got fucking death threats from the rugby supporters. So it’s not all wine and roses.
DS: And the end result’s the same, so if you have a terrible motive, what’s the difference?
At this point we go off on a tangent, then Fuller returns to the lawsuit.
JF: The legal thing, was never ’cause I wanted two million dollars. It was just to get their attention. I thought, I’ve done a few things, I’ve not had any attention from the UCI or Pat McQuaid, I’ve got to talk to him in a language he understands: money. So I did.
DS: The case is still active?
JF: Very. Let me tell you, I never intended to go through with it. Now, different story. Now I realize the implications of that suit for world sports administration. It’s huge. My lawyers tell me I’ve got a better than 50/50 chance of winning.
DS: Well, Hein’s in the IOC so there’s ramifications there too.
AS: It’s a precedent. If a governing body could be sued for corruption…
JF: It’ll be a precedent for sports administration. There’ll be a lot of guys all throughout Switzerland shitting themselves.
So if you wanna talk about it being a PR stunt, not for me, but to get some activity out of the UCI. There was some blowback, I got some positive feedback, I got some negative feedback. Thank God the positive way outweighed the negative. There were two criticisms. One, I’m trying to make a quick two million. Yeah, sure. Really quick.
Two, it’s a cynical PR stunt. When I went and personally wrote to everybody who wrote in to our web email address, I wrote to every single person, I was able to convince each one we were genuine except for a couple.
AS: So when you wrote that open letter, you didn’t imagine yourself here now, or in London over the weekend, that was not…
DS: …that wasn’t the roadmap?
JF: It wasn’t. I can’t even tell you what it was…oh I know. A guy contacted me, a guy in London with some sort of conference organizing business. He said he wanted to organize a conference, would I participate as a guest speaker? I said sure, absolutely. And then it became they wanted me to sponsor them for 100,000 pounds, ‘SKINS presents…’.
But it planted a seed. I was cogitating about this: the ideas are good, but it needs to be done very quickly, it has to be done the right way with the right people. So the first people I spoke to were David Howman and Travis Tygart. I was fortunate because I had some credibility because of my other actions, particularly the legal action, so when I explained what I was doing and why I was doing it they were on board.
I said, I need your help, I need to know if I can get you guys to participate in a summit.
DS: Was Tygart there at the conference?
DS: He phoned in?
JF: He ended up emailing. But after speaking with them, it gave me the confidence to go and speak with some others. I needed representatives from each of the stakeholders. I went through the obvious ones, started ringing them. And I spent two weeks on the phone, just talking and talking and building. I spoke to so and so, and so and so put me in touch with such and such…
Of all the guys in the room, I’d only met one of them, John Hoberman. So out of the fifteen people around the table, I didn’t know them. It was a big effort to make it happen, and I was grateful that these guys trusted me to come for it.
When I got to Kimmage (Irish accent), "Fuckin’ ‘ell I’ll be there!" David Walsh, "I’ll drop everything, I’ll be there."
DS: So what do you think your chances are to enact the things you put forward? Do you think it’s going to take legal action? It’s almost extra-legal action ’cause you want to have an investigation of the UCI, that’s pretty extraordinary.
JF: Let’s talk about the independent commission, the UCIIC. We had the press conference at 1:30, at 4:30 I received a letter from the UCIIC’s lawyers, saying they’ve seen what we’re doing, and they’d like us to participate in the investigation. They’re going to offer us some special access grants.
AS: Do you see that as a good faith offer or an information gathering mission?
JF: I met with them on Tuesday. And the first thing I said to them was, "Who the fuck wrote the terms of reference? Why have you not gone to Travis Tygart and David Howman to write the terms of reference?"
Back up one step, why haven’t the UCI gone to David Howman to do the investigation? Why have they gone to their mate, John Coates, through the IOC? And I said, "I’m not casting aspersions on the three people on the panel. They’re highly eminent people. But where are the terms of reference coming from?" ‘Cause let’s face it, the three people on the panel, they don’t know anything, the Donald Rumsfeld known unknowns and unknown unknowns, you know what I mean? How can you investigate anything unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and what you’re investigating?
The answer I got back was not a very good one, and I had a bit of difficulty accepting it. Subsequently…
AS: Was this you or the whole panel that met with them?
JF: Me and Mike Ashenden.
AS: And who were you talking to? The UCI’s lawyer? The UCIIC’s lawyer?
JF: What happens is when they appoint this commission, they sit like a judge, and they need a prosecuting team of lawyers that collect all the data, get the info, build the case. And that’s these guys. And we explained to them, one of our concerns, was that they’ve been set up. It’s happened before, someone’s going to end up with egg on their face. You guys, you better make fucking sure it’s not you, and it’s not your bosses.
And to do that, you have to talk to Travis and David. These guys have been doing it for years, you swung in on the back of a brief from Hein Verbruggen, and you gotta understand the perceptions that are out there. They went to a lot of lengths to convince us that they’re genuine, and they want the truth, but we’ll see that soon.
DS: What’s their time schedule?
JF: There’s a hearing in April, and the report is due in June. And I made it clear to them yesterday that we will not participate, we will not cooperate, unless USADA and WADA do. And I know USADA and WADA won’t if it’s not fair. And the fact that the report’s not necessarily going to be public, that adds another dimension as well. It’ll only be public if Pat McQuaid chooses to make it public.
DS: So if the commission investigates and nothing comes of it, then what do you do?
AS: Well, you’re going to act before that, aren’t you? Your timetable’s earlier.
JF: Let’s just define that statement, ’cause if the commission investigates, they can do it with or without our cooperation. If they investigate without our cooperation, I don’t have faith in their ultimate objective. If they do, and they have USADA input and WADA input, and it’s all above board, and they find them clean, I have no idea how that happens, I guess it’s a possible outcome, in the meantime, we’re pursuing our court case, and I’d expect we’d be in court April.
AS: One of the points in your charter is the investigation into the UCI, is the lawsuit the mechanism through which you get subpoena power?
JF: When we wrote that, we hadn’t had discussions with the UCIIC. So if the UCIIC broaden their terms of reference, if they take on board all the information from USADA and WADA, and if they then go ahead, then we can put a tick next to that item and consider it done. We’re not looking to double up.
But at that point (when the charter was drafted), we’d had no visibility, we had a set of terms of reference that were too narrow, and we know that this was all commissioned to be done by a friend of Hein Verbruggen’s. So that’s why we said in the charter, we need better than this.
AS: Ashenden mentioned that he had a plan that could prove without a doubt that the next Tour de France winner would be clean.
JF: That’s a good one.
AS: But that’s a secret?
JF: Maybe it was tactically a mistake to even bring it up, but he shared it with Gianni Bugno, because we’ve got to get the riders on our side. What it does, it would enable everybody to take away ANY suspicion of ANY blood doping in the Tour de France. And Gianni said he wants to increase it to the Giro and the Vuelta as well. But there are some very sensitive discussions that need to be had with the riders to make sure they’re on board.
AS: He did share it with you?
DS: He probably doesn’t want to share it with the public so riders can’t find ways to circumvent it?
JF: No, seriously, it’s more about the riders have not been consulted, and it would be wrong to go out and say it to everybody without even discussing it with them. It’s a pretty invasive plan. I tell you, it’s invasive.
AS: I always thought the best way to guarantee cleanliness is to sic a Kimmage on every GC contender. Here’s your roommate for two or three weeks before and the weeks during.
JF: It’s (Ashenden’s) a radical idea. Look, we hear it with Wiggins, at the press conference, questions are being asked about him and Froome. We don’t know. But poor fucking Wiggins, if he’s clean, he’s sitting there having all these people talking about him. The clean riders surely want to be able to say I didn’t do it, and this is the way.
And this is why I think Gianni Bugno was so receptive to it.
AS: That’s very interesting, that Bugno’s interested.
JF: And we were only talking Tour de France, and he wanted to extend it to the Giro and Vuelta as well. He was very receptive. And I was concerned that we were going to get into the boss/union discussion, and the union’s immediate response is going to be negative. Which is why I think it’s something that can be done, just as long as the key riders come on board.
DS: In the meantime, how do you think your organization’s going to be viewed in the sport of cycling? Right now, you’re buzzing around the hive, you’re not in with the queen, so to speak. Where do you envision it going?
JF: I don’t know. I really don’t know.
DS: ‘Cause it’s vague. Most companies have a goal, this is basically people getting together, planning some things, not necessarily having some more steps down the road.
JF: No, we’ve got some other things going on. For example, we’re trying to engage the ASO, so if you look at our organization, we’ve got some holes. The riders are the obvious one. But I needed for this weekend to get the ball rolling, ’cause some of these guys will start to come on board, and others will see them…
AS: Yeah, a couple of riders said they would’ve attended had they known about it. Andre Greipel, David Millar…
JF: I’m frustrated about Millar. I didn’t personally speak to him, but I spoke to someone close to him, and was told categorically he was in Tucson, he had to be in Tucson. And so when I’m sitting there Monday night or Tuesday, and I see this tweet come up saying "sorry but I’m at the Rapha party Monday night in London"…
AS: Who told you that?
JF: I can’t say.
AS: Can we print all that about Millar?
JF: Yeah! Absolutely. I was told he was in Tucson. But I didn’t tell you he told me that. And I’ve spoken to that person, I said, "look, you put me in a really difficult situation", ’cause he’s the obvious one, and he was the first one. He was the first one I reached out to, to this person.
AS: It hurt your credibility, ’cause immediately people said "they didn’t even think to invite Millar, the most obvious one." And after the fact he says he would’ve attended.
DS: So do you think this organization would supplant the UCI?
JF: No! God no!
DS: So you want to work change within the organization.
DS: I’m not exactly sure about the UCI bylaws, but I think the next director has to come from within the organization, right?
JF: Let’s just be clear on the LeMond thing. That was something that was, in the event that an interim is needed…they could say McQuaid can’t go ’cause there’s no one to replace him. So we said, in the event… Look, take a look at the footage. Greg doesn’t want to do it, you know what I mean?
It was written "LeMond challenging McQuaid", no no no. This is simply about, if McQuaid were to do the right thing tomorrow, LeMond would be prepared to step in purely as a caretaker in the interim, to do two things.
One, ensure complete compliance with the independent investigation, which already you’ve got to ask yourself why would McQuaid, the UCI, and Verbruggen cooperate and hand over smoking guns, right? It’s pretty fucking obvious. So we need somebody at the helm who isn’t scared of the truth, who’s prepared to say to the organization, "I don’t care how bad it is, I don’t care what it says, you hand that over."
And number two, to find the right guy. Because one of the things we don’t want is "I’ve been at this for fifty eight years and I started off as an amateur in my local club and it’s now my turn". There needs to be a degree of professionalism.
DS: There doesn’t need to be the same old cronies coming back.
JF: And I know how stupid that sounds, in terms of making that happen as a reality, but why not go for it?
DS: If you can get the ASO and the other organizations, the grand tours, you don’t need the UCI.
JF: I couldn’t get to Prudhomme for the meeting. I got to Acquarone, and he declined the invitation. I’m not sure if he couldn’t come or didn’t want to come.
I wanted as many stakeholder groups represented as possible.
AS: Does your group continue to exist, or do you come together and go your separate ways?
JF: We’re looking at that right now, I’ve already enquired about formalizing something. We have a not for profit organization, but there is a school of thought that says the moment you become formal you lose your edge. I’m not saying we’re anarchists, we’re anything but, but we can behave in an anarchic way if we want.
DS: It has a bit of the Occupy Wall Street to it.
JF: It’s Occupy, it’s Bicycle Spring. Once you start putting in place a formal structure…
DS: It becomes more about keeping the structure going…
JF: So I haven’t decided.
AS: The charter, the ideas, most of it is common sense. Dan and I could’ve sat together and written almost the same thing. The question isn’t the ideas, it’s the implementation, the political maneuverings…
JF: From my perspective, the first part of that is getting it out and getting people to see it. So having all those people orchestrating the press conference was all for a reason. Now, it’s not like we sat down and wrote that in the first half hour and said ok now let’s just put up our feet. No, there was a lot of discussion, trying to get that very first draft, and trying to get that legitimacy as well. To get people to look at you and say, "ok, you do legitimately have a point of view and you’re right to air that point of view."
But you’re right, it’s all common sense, but tell that to Dave Brailsford. Tell that to Orica GreenEdge. Tell that to John Coates, who’s come out and said that the Australian Olympic Committee, all their members have to sign a pledge saying they’ve never ever ever ever ever, or they’re out. Tell that to them!
DS: How do you see truth and reconciliation working out? It sounds like a great idea, but if you have, for instance, someone who’s racing right now, to come out and say I doped all of 2012, what happens to him?
DS: So it’s you’ve done it, you’ve admitted it, don’t do it again?
JF: You’ve done it, you’ve admitted it, you’ve told everything, as long as they’re 100%, they’re not part of the picture, complete amnesty.
DS: Who do you foresee administering that?
JF: That’s up to much smarter people.
AS: The mechanics of that are just mind boggling.
JF: And it would have to come under WADA/UCI.
AS: And do you cross reference it later? Do you say, wait a sec, these guys don’t agree. One of you is lying.
JF: Why do you think independent commissions cost money? There’s money being spent on all sorts of shit. That’s not going to be a cheap process. That’ll be in the millions.
DS: Well, a lot of the UCI stuff is just an exercise in public relations.
JF: I keep saying to people, they’re about eradicating scandal, they’re not about eradicating doping. And if they got serious about eradicating doping, things would be a lot different.
This is all just one very simple concept of "if we can eradicate doping, but not 100% but you know what I mean, if you can get the riders to have confidence in the system, ’cause I honestly believe the majority of riders have been doing it to catch up, not to get ahead. There are some. Armstrong’s a get-ahead guy. Vinokourov was a get-ahead guy. The vast majority see themselves as having to hang on so they have to do it. Because they have no faith in the system. You show them how they can have faith in the system, you treat them, don’t get me wrong, it’s like a bunch of schoolkids and a box of chocolates, you put them down you say ‘you can’t touch those’, you know they’re going to take them, so, you have to have some sort of discipline in place.
But you also have to treat them properly. Theses guys, I feel for them, ’cause every time something happens, the spotlight comes on them, they’re the bad guy…
DS: And if they’ve won anything in the past 12 months it falls on them, any success has suspicion attached to it.
JF: And that’s what Mike Ashenden said in the press conference, when the question was asked about Bradley Wiggins, he said the problem is that today, everything that Bradley Wiggins says, was said before by Lance Armstrong. It’s just so fucking true.
So there’s an obligation on the UCI to do something, and they’re not. You can see why I sit there and I look at all this shit, and I think, like you say, Andy, those four points, are common sense. I think the whole fucking thing is common sense. So why can’t we fix it? And why am I wearing turd all over myself from people crapping all over me ’cause my motivation is sinister and Machiavellian?
Last night, someone says I’m being funded by Bakala. I’m the front man for Bakala!
DS: You had fan representatives at the conference…
JF: Which might’ve been a mistake…
DS: It’s hard to pick a couple of them, ’cause there’s millions of them. They run the rainbow of Lance fans and…they run the whole gamut. How’re you going to have a fan stakeholder involvement in all of this? That seems pretty untenable.
JF: It was a late thing, and it was pointed out to me that riders aside, the one critical group that had no voice in the discussion was fans. And an introduction was made, like I said, I didn’t know any of these people, to Scott O’Raw.
When I say that might’ve been a mistake, I don’t mean Scott’s and Festina Girl’s input was anything other than great, but I didn’t think there would be such an issue in the Twittersphere and everywhere else…
AS: People wanted to be invited…
JF: And I think that was the biggest motivation behind the bitchiness.
AS: Hey, I’m on Twitter! Why can’t I go?
DS: I’m their biggest fan!
JF: But all this went so quickly. I still maintain you can’t win. If they hadn’t been there, "you guys are a joke, you didn’t have anyone representing the fans." You know? You can’t win.
So Scott and Festina, the meeting was on Sunday, they only came on board on Thursday.
DS: They were close by.
JF: Which made it feasible.
AS: I thought Festina Girl did a good job of live tweeting the press conference…
JF: I don’t even know what she tweeted. Every fucking night I was going to bed at 4 in the morning and I was up at 6:30, I didn’t have time to scratch myself. I should know what she said but I don’t. Have you met her?
JF: I have! And you know, that crap about her not showing her face, that was my doing. I said to her, you should come as your avatar. It’s up to you, if you want to come as your name, you can, but I think it’s cute for you to come as Festina Girl with your Che Guevara avatar.
DS: People know her as that anyway.
AS: Do you see Ashenden as the leader of the group, moving forward?
JF: Sure. Let me put it to you this way. I think at some point the group needs to go from being anarchic to more process driven. I think I need to looking after the early anarchic stages, but then, it’ll be great, but I don’t know if Mike would be prepared to do it, I just don’t know. There’s no money.
But Mike’s a super smart guy, and I’d love to be able to lean on him as much as possible.
AS: He’s got massive credibility.
JF: He deserves it too. He is sharp.
AS: Let’s say everything works out. What happens to you? Do you go back to SKINS? Or do you foresee a bigger role in the sport?
JF: Ideally what I’d like to do is take the learnings from this and see how I can apply it elsewhere. It all goes back to our values, that’s what it’s all about, the true spirit of competition. And if we can make a change, if we can contribute somewhere, somehow, I talked before about footballers abusing referees (this was during our tangent), you can stop that. You just say, alright you’re banned for two weeks. Do it again you’re banned for four, do it again you’re banned forever. You’ll be fined whatever. You can fix that.
But who’s going to make them do that? Somebody’s gotta stand up. It’s gotta be somebody who’s A: prepared to spend some money, and B: with some balls.
AS: When David Walsh asks a tough question and the press room doesn’t back him up, it dies. You’re a sponsor, you stood up. If all the other sponsors joined you, this would be very powerful. It’s the difference between a lonely voice in the wilderness versus everyone speaking up. Have you been able to get any other sponsors on board?
JF: You mean people with balls? There’s a degree of complacency, there’s a degree of fear. Certainly when it comes to non industry sponsors, it’s not fear. But when it comes to industry sponsors, when it comes to guys who need UCI stickers on their bits and pieces, they’re terrified.
They won’t, for fear of what the UCI could do to them.
AS: But it’s all a matter of numbers. If it’s all of you, then you have the power.
JF: Ask yourself why the teams don’t get together and say, "you know what? We’re not going to pay our 150,000 Euros." Because they can’t, they won’t. And this business about "I’ll do it if you do it", "you’ll do it if he does it"…
DS: And people that sponsor Garmin and people who sponsor Katusha or Astana, these are wide ranging, different institutions.
JF: And some of them, frankly, just don’t give a fuck. Others do. I had one guy, who was interested, approached me to put on a summit for sponsors. This was whilst our thing was going over in my head.
He asked if I would be interested in organizing a sponsor summit. And I said, "funny you should say that, ’cause this is what I’m doing." And I talked him through it.
"Great! Wonderful! Would love to be involved!"
AS: But I’m in Tucson.
JF: Could’ve been. Might as well have been. Never heard anything else.
AS: I heard a rumor about Rabobank.
JF: I approached Rabo, and the response was "we need to get permission from upstairs", didn’t hear anything back. I draw my own conclusions.
DS: So, so far, you’re just the lone voice in the wilderness.
JF: But you know, I’m an optimist. Just getting those guys in a room, was a huge thing. It was highly unlikely. ‘Cause when you look at the personalities involved, it was really difficult. There was only one person who I really wanted who couldn’t come, Anne Gripper. And Anne just couldn’t get there. But the fact that everyone else got there was testament that you can be optimistic and positive without having this huge intricate web of plans, and you gotta just take step one and step two before you know what four five and six look like.
So I figure that we are where we are, which is still early days. And if what we’ve done encourages some people who maybe before wouldn’t say anything, but maybe now they say, "yeah, ok". And if them coming on board means somebody else will…