WADA Won’t Work With ‘Deceitful’ UCI on Armstrong Probe
The World Anti-Doping Agency won’t cooperate with the International Cycling Union on a truth and reconciliation panel after the UCI disbanded a commission set up to review its handling of the Lance Armstrong case.
Pat McQuaid, president of the cycling body known by its French acronym UCI, said yesterday the decision to scrap the commission was taken after he spoke to the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, last weekend. McQuaid said the agency was willing to help the UCI set up a commission looking at doping in cycling and other sports.
“Instead of any continuing professional dialogue with WADA’s president, UCI has publicly announced by way of a press statement that WADA has agreed to work with it on some form of truth and reconciliation,” WADA President John Fahey said in a statement on the agency’s website today. “This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful.”
Fahey said the independent commission established by the UCI “was intended to review the allegations of complicity of UCI in the Lance Armstrong doping conspiracy as raised by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in its thorough decision.
“Instead UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility to the sport of cycling in completing such an inquiry and has determined to apparently deflect responsibility for the doping problem in its sport to others,” Fahey said.
WADA won’t consider joining any venture with the UCI “while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues,” he said.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Chief Executive Travis Tygart said he is skeptical about the cycling body’s ability to independently review its own conduct.
“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,” Tygart said in an e-mailed statement.
“We have always fully supported a well-structured truth and reconciliation process in order to clean up the sport and protect the rights of athletes,” Tygart added, “but it is clear that the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self- interested outcome in this effort.”
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani wasn’t immediately available to comment after WADA and USADA’s statements.
In August, USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned the American for life for using prohibited substances after he opted not to contest doping charges in arbitration.
Following more than a decade of denials, Armstrong this month told talk show host Oprah Winfrey he’d cheated by using drugs while winning all seven titles.
The UCI was criticized in the aftermath of the Armstrong affair for failing to act sooner. It set up the commission in October to investigate, among other things, the relationship between Armstrong and the UCI.
McQuaid said yesterday the commission would not be able to succeed without cooperation from WADA or USADA, whose officials withdrew from the process two weeks ago over the UCI’s refusal to grant witnesses amnesty.
Philip Otton, chairman of the commission, said at a hearing in London last week that his group had been determined to probe “why and how Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team were able to engage, as recently publicly admitted, in systematic doping without detection or sanction.”
The commission today said in a press release that it’s calling on “all those who have an interest in cycling,” to make sure an independent truth and reconciliation process is set up.