MILAN (VN) — The UCI is the odd man out in talks over establishing a truth and reconciliation process after the governing body’s independent review commission announced Wednesday that it would not move forward without such a pathway to admission for potential witnesses.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and Change Cycling Now pressure group spoke out in support of truth and reconciliation on Tuesday and rejected the UCI’s review board.
“It is of great regret to the commission that the UCI, WADA and USADA have not been able to reach agreement to a truth and reconciliation process, and that WADA, USADA and CCN have indicated to the commission that they do not wish to participate in the inquiry on the present terms of reference,” the three-member review panel said in a press release. “The commission is of the view that a truth and reconciliation process is desirable for the purposes of this inquiry, and that such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the commission at its hearing in April 2013. The commission is of the view that such a process would be in the interests not only of the inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole.”
The panel also said that it would review its full Terms of Reference, set forth by the UCI and condemned Tuesday by WADA, in a public hearing scheduled “as soon as possible after” January 21 in London. The commission said Wednesday that the involvement of WADA, USADA, and anti-UCI pressure group Change Cycling Now “would assist the commission, and it hopes that they will give further consideration to participating, and will continue to explore the possibility of a Truth and Reconciliation process directly with the UCI.”
WADA and USADA each met with the commission’s representatives since its inception two months ago. WADA proposed immunity or incentives for witnesses and USADA provided the commission with a draft truth and reconciliation proposal. CCN supported the proposal.
The commission’s current 11-point Terms of Reference does not include a truth and reconciliation or a full or partial amnesty process. The commission said it presented USADA’s proposal to the UCI, but on January 9, the UCI “indicated … that the proposal was unacceptable.”
WADA, USADA, and CCN have since refused their backing of the commission, leaving the panel to play hard ball.
“In a letter sent to the review commission yesterday, CCN has confirmed that the UCI’s power of veto on all amendments to a supposedly independent review, is completely unacceptable and that CCN will play no part in a process that continues to be singularly orchestrated by the organization that is under investigation,” CCN said in a statement. “Therefore, CCN will neither cooperate with, or endorse a toothless and wholly inappropriate process that is clearly not independent of UCI interference.”
Instead of backing down, the commission said that it would hold the public procedural hearing to address the issue sometime after this week in London. In addition to addressing the truth and reconciliation process, the commission will examine the full scope of the Terms of Reference, in particular points 1, 3 and 9, and the current time table.
The UCI asked the commission to finish its work by June 1. Yesterday, WADA president John Fahey criticized the UCI on several issues, including the timing. He said, “A June deadline for the commission’s report is wholly insufficient and will result in a lost opportunity to properly investigate the problem.”
CCN and a manifesto issued by five European newspapers this winter called for changes to be made immediately.
Pressure has been building on the UCI since USADA found Armstrong guilty of cheating throughout his career. On August 24 it recommended a lifetime ban and the stripping of all his results since 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles. Its Reasoned Decision, made public on October 10, made for uncomfortable reading and sent waves through the peloton and beyond. Rabobank pulled its sponsorship after 17 years in the sport, Sky fired staff members and RadioShack split with general manager Johan Bruyneel. The UCI reacted by forming the independent commission, which may prove too limited.
Dick Pound, former WADA president and International Olympic Committee (IOC) board member, said yesterday that cycling risks losing its place in the Olympics. He indicated the IOC may suspend the sport for four to eight years.
“I’m worried for the condition in which cycling in is after this scandal, dragged down by people like UCI president [Pat] McQuaid,” Olympic gold medalist and last year’s Tour de France winner, Brad Wiggins told Sky Italia. “Maybe in one week we’ll be without any president. I care about the consequences, we are trying to maintain credibility.”
Attention now shifts to the public hearing and the UCI’s loose grip on cycling.
Terms of reference in brief:
1. Are the allegations in the USADA’s Reasoned Decision well founded?
2. Did the UCI know what Armstrong and his team were doing? If not, should it have known?
3. Are the UCI’s anti-doping policies inadequate or not enforced sufficiently?
4. Did the UCI have evidence of doping and did it fail to act?
5. Did the UCI fail to detect doping when Armstrong returned in 2009?
6. Did Armstrong or his team pay the UCI and if so, was it appropriate?
7. Did the UCI discourage people from speaking out?
8. Did the UCI adequately co-operated with USADA’s investigation?
9. Should dopers be able to work within cycling in the future?
10. Did the UCI face a conflict of interest in promoting cycling and investigating Armstrong?
11. Are the current controls adequate and compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC)?