GENEVA (AFP) — Cycling’s world governing body has “nothing to hide” in relation to the Lance Armstrong doping affair, UCI president Pat McQuaid told Agence France Presse on Thursday.
McQuaid also announced that the UCI planned to allow an external inquiry into the role played by those in charge during the Armstrong years.
The Irishman, who is set to stand for a third term in charge of the UCI in September, hit back at those, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, who have critizised the lack of action taken since the fall from grace of the former Tour de France winner.
“That’s not correct. We have worked since Armstrong,” said McQuaid.
He said that the UCI had set up an “independent commission” to investigate whether anyone was complicit in helping the Texan during the years when he managed to cheat his way to the pinnacle of the sport, but added that the commission had to be dissolved shortly after opening at the end of January because of a lack of support from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Armstrong’s downfall was brought about following the publication of a USADA report last year that outlined his role in the most sophisticated and successful doping program in the history of the sport.
“I am sorry that it has to be abandoned but we could not afford the money that we wanted to spend on it and, having the report for just one side and the fact neither WADA nor USADA were prepared to collaborate to this commission, put us in a situation where we had no option but to cancel it and look at a different approach,” McQuaid said of the commission’s failure.
McQuaid added that he hoped an external inquiry into the UCI’s activities could begin as soon as possible.
“We are planning to recommend to the Management Committee in June an external audit on the UCI’s activities during that period,” he said.
“I would hope that the decision will be taken in June so that group of people can start their audit immediately and then we’ll look to see what further should be done to examine that period.
“We have nothing to be afraid of, nothing to fear, we are not hiding anything from the work we did during that period.”
A report making recommendations for the future of the sport was published by Deloitte on Thursday.
The report highlighted the need to restore the credibility of cycling and its public image, as well as the need to decide whether to hold an independent inquiry into the Armstrong affair and whether to offer riders amnesty or reduced sanctions for coming forward with information.
Feedback from the report also suggests that more needs to be done to improve the UCI’s relationship with WADA.
“We have taken the decision recently to provide USADA with all the material that they asked for in relation with Lance Armstrong,” said McQuaid. “That material is not sitting on a desk just waiting to be posted tomorrow, but we have to research that material because it goes back 15 years, some of that is not even at the UCI but in external laboratories.
“We are currently in the process of accumulating this information and we’ll provide it to USADA as soon as we have.”