UCI shuts down Armstrong inquiry

The independent commission set up by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has been disbanded.

World (Wada) and US anti-doping (Usada) agencies refused to co-operate with it.

The inquiry will now be replaced by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

But Usada chief executive Travis Tygart said: “We support a well-structured truth and reconciliation process but the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome.”

He added: “The UCI blindfolded and handcuffed its independent commission and now hopes the world will look the other way while the UCI attempts to insert itself into the investigation into the role it played in allowing the doping culture to flourish.”

UCI president Pat McQuaid described the change as “the best way to examine the culture of doping in cycling in the past and to clear the air so that cycling can move forward”.

McQuaid added that the commission was being disbanded following talks with Wada president John Fahey.

Analysis



“On the day a much-delayed court case into a huge doping conspiracy in Spain finally started, and a separate investigation continued in Belgium, news that cycling’s official response to the Lance Armstrong scandal is over before it has even started, really could not be much more embarrassing.

“The official reason for cycling’s governing body effectively sacking its own independent commission into the Armstrong affair is that the US and World Anti-Doping Agencies withdrew their support, saying they had no confidence in its ability to uncover the truth. A more cynical view might be that British Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson and her two colleagues on the panel were simply more independent than the International Cycling Union (UCI) had bargained for.

“The UCI says it will now proceed with a full ‘Truth Reconciliation’ process – amnesties for riders in return for evidence – which is what many of its critics want, although they will have a long wait for answers. Where this will leave the sport’s already battered reputation is anybody’s guess.”

“Fahey confirmed Wada’s willingness to help the UCI establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as well as saying that Wada had no confidence in the existing independent commission process,” added McQuaid.

But in a statement, Fahey said: “Wada is dismayed by the press release issued by UCI, both in terms of its content and its deceit.

“It has decided to terminate its own commission on the grounds that others refuse to participate, and not for any reason that the commission was precluded from operating transparently and without fear.

“Wada was not part of the decision to establish such a commission, it was not even consulted. When asked to participate, Wada was at pains to point out the inadequacies of the terms of reference and the timelines.

“The commission’s lawyers agreed to point those out in order to remedy them. These were not addressed by UCI or the commission so Wada declined to participate.”

The three-person commission, which included Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson,

had been established in response to a

damning report from Usada

into a decade of cheating by Armstrong and his US Postal Service Team.

Usada’s report, published in October, resulted in the American being

stripped of his seven Tour de France titles,

and also seriously called into question the UCI’s actions over the period.

However, both Wada and Usada had previously said they would not co-operate with the UCI’s inquiry, which had led the UCI to conclude that any report would be dismissed as “not being complete or credible”.

The independent commission was adjourned last week until 31 January, with Baroness Grey-Thompson telling UCI counsel Ian Mill: “It amazes me that we’ve had no documents whatsoever.”

On Tuesday she called on the UCI to disclose evidence.

“It was evident early on that the lack of cooperation that the independent commission experienced from key stakeholders would make significant progress difficult and that a wider amnesty was necessary to give cycling a genuine chance for change,” she said.

“Having urged the UCI to engage in truth and reconciliation, I am glad that it now publicly acknowledges the need for such action.

“However, I do not believe the creation of a truth and reconciliation process in itself answers the concerns that have been raised.

“I also maintain that is essential that the final process addresses the accusations against the UCI that the independent commission was first appointed to investigate, and which have now been placed indefinitely on hold.

“Confidence in the integrity of the UCI is vital for the sport of cycling. It is essential that they make full disclosure of all documentation and evidence to allow the sport to move on and regain its standing and reputation.

“My hope for cycling is that its key stakeholders can work together in a way that has not been the case in the past as they seek to make the necessary changes to the sport.”

After announcing its decision to shut down the independent commission, the UCI said the TRC process would launch later this year – and that its report would be published in full.

McQuaid added: “We will now focus our efforts on establishing a TRC with which we expect Wada to be fully engaged, to look at doping in professional cycling, as well as the allegations contained in the Usada reasoned decision.

“The work that has so far been undertaken by the commission will be shared with the TRC.”

The UCI had agreed to provide an amnesty for those giving evidence to the independent commission.

Last week,

British cycling coach Sir David Brailsford questioned the need for a truth and reconciliation process,

saying: “Already I think there is a wealth of information that you can actually start taking action on and putting tangible things in place.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/21240211

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