COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (VN) — The war of words between the UCI and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency escalated over the weekend, with the international governing body informing USADA on Saturday that it was denying the agency “any authority to act or proceed” on behalf of the UCI and/or USA Cycling.
On Friday, The New York Daily News reported that the UCI had asked USADA in mid-July to hand over all documents related to the agency’s investigation of Lance Armstrong and others over what USADA CEO Travis Tygart has called a “doping conspiracy” at the seven-time Tour de France winner’s U.S. Postal Service team.
USADA general counsel Bill Bock replied on July 26 that his agency had jurisdiction in the matter and indeed was established “as an independent anti-doping organization not subject to the control of any sports organization precisely for situations such as this where a sports organization with manifest conflicts of interest is attempting to impose its will on the results management process.”
Both letters were attached to a brief that USADA filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas.
On Saturday, the website Cyclismas.com published a letter dated August 3 in which UCI president Pat McQuaid asserted that his organization had jurisdiction in the Armstrong case, that USADA was withholding information from the UCI and those under investigation, and that the international governing body had no conflicts of interest in the matter.
“We contest and reject these allegations, which we feel denote a political intention against cycling and the UCI,” wrote McQuaid, adding, “Anyhow, whether there is a conflict of interests is not a matter for USADA to decide.”
Regardless of the issues of jurisdiction and conflict of interests, McQuaid continued, “USADA has disqualified itself as a neutral body by proffering pages of accusations against the UCI which denotes a bias against cycling, by ignoring UCI’s efforts in the fight against doping, by judging upon press articles, by refusing to submit the evidence its accusations are allegedly based upon, by claiming results management authority without giving evidence of such claim, by calling for witness statements under unknown but apparently unprecedented conditions which seem also contrary to the Code, by claiming to ban a person for life without elementary due process, (and) by invoking a violation of conspiracy that is not provided for in the rules.”
McQuaid closed by suggesting that USADA and UCI put the question of jurisdiction to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport and forbidding USADA “to act or proceed on the basis of ADR (anti-doping regulations) or any other rule of the UCI or otherwise on behalf of UCI and/or USA Cycling.”
It was not clear whether McQuaid’s edict referred solely to the Armstrong inquiry or to USADA’s overall mission. E-mails to USADA and USA Cycling seeking response and clarification have yet to be returned.
Also on Saturday, the UCI communications service issued a press release lambasting USADA as laying claim to “an authority that it does not have” and employing procedures “that violate basic principles of due process.”
“The absence of any evidence that has been made available to the respondents and to the UCI, the fact that USADA has no results management jurisdiction in this case, the fact that USADA refuses to have its file assessed by an independent results management authority and the fact that USADA continues to claim in these circumstances publicly that a doping conspiracy has taken place indeed brings UCI to the conclusion that USADA has no respect for the rules and for the principles of due process,” the release continued.
“The UCI wants that the case is judged according to the rules, upon facts established on the basis of sound evidence and by a neutral instance, including in the stadium of results management. The UCI wants that justice is done. Justice cannot be done by violating rules on jurisdiction, with files that have been kept secret so far and results management proceedings that are not fair.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has remained largely silent throughout this back and forth, though last month, following the lifetime bans issued against three Armstrong associates, the agency issued a statement confirming its unity with USADA, while explaining that any international federation — in this case, the UCI — has the right to appeal the sanctions.
At the time WADA declined to comment on specifics of the case until “the time for exercising such rights has passed.”