SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia’s anti-doping body on Friday urged cyclists who took drugs to come forward, saying “the days of remaining silent are over” in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) began investigations after its U.S. counterpart accused Armstrong of helping orchestrate what it called the most sophisticated doping program in the history of the sport.
ASADA chief executive Aurora Andruska said some cyclists had already come forward and she urged others to follow suit before they were accused of doping.
“The days of remaining silent are over,” Andruska said. “The days of fearing what happens if the truth gets out are over. The days of protecting people who are in the wrong are over.”
Andruska said where an athlete or team staffer acknowledged their mistakes and were willing to reveal violations by others, ASADA could offer “substantial assistance” under the World Anti-Doping Code.
“But let me be clear, this is not an amnesty where full absolution is given,” she said.
Armstrong has consistently denied taking performance enhancing drugs, but the UCI last month stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.
Since the scandal broke, two senior Australian cycling figures have admitted to doping during their sporting careers and resigned from their positions with Cycling Australia. The federation fired road team manager Matt White in October. Three days later, vice president Stephen Hodge resigned from his post.
Andruska said ASADA wanted to hear from anyone who had participated in organized doping, or experienced peer pressure to dope, or had information about suspected doping in sport.
“The integrity of Australian cycling is under public scrutiny and we now need the cooperation of the sport and its athletes if our investigation is going to get to the heart of the matter,” Andruska said.
ASADA has established a confidential phone hotline and has a secure and anonymous form on its website for anyone who wants to provide information.
The move came as the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) on Friday decided to make all Games athletes and officials sign a statutory declaration stating they have never been involved in doping.
Making a false declaration is a criminal offense.
The statement will cover performance-enhancing substances but not recreational illicit drugs, the AOC said.