x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UCI scraps independent probe into Lance Armstrong scandal after doping body brands it 'useless'

The commission set up by cycling's governing body has been disbanded after just one public meeting following the refusal by USADA and WADA to cooperate with the investigation.

International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid.
International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid.

An independent commission set up by cycling's governing body to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has been disbanded - after anti-doping agencies refused to cooperate with the probe.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed it had scrapped the commission set up to investigate alleged involvement by the governing body in the Armstrong affair after both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United States Doping Agency (USADA) had refused to cooperate with its investigations.

The three-member commission, comprising former judge Philip Otton, Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and lawyer Malcolm Holmes, had only met in public for the first time on Friday.

However, the refusal of WADA and USADA to support the body had left UCI feeling any report the commission produced would be dismissed "as not being complete or credible". Instead, a truth and reconciliation commission is to be set up by the governing body instead.

Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, said they had been left with little choice but to disband the commission after VADA labelled it a "useless exercise".

"Over the weekend I spoke to John Fahey, president of WADA," he said.

"He confirmed WADA's willingness to help the UCI establish a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC), as well as saying that WADA had no confidence in the existing independent commission process ... We have therefore decided to disband the independent commission with immediate effect.

"We do this with regret, but given the stance of WADA we did not see any other option,"

McQuaid added WADA had concluded "the UCI was not allowing the commission to conduct a proper and independent investigation," and had, therefore, "decided not to take part and invest its limited resources into such a questionable and useless exercise".

It was an investigation by USADA that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

And it was comments in their "reasoned decision" regarding the UCI's alleged complicity in his drug-taking and the conduct of the American's US Postal Service team that led cycling chiefs to set up the independent commission.

However, the anti-doping authorities withdrew from the process over the lack of an amnesty, saying they felt it was imperative witnesses could give evidence "without fear of retribution or retaliation from the UCI".

"This is too important for rushed discussions, or hasty decisions," warned McQuaid, who was replaced on a key Olympic committee last week.

He also said there were cost implications for the UCI, given WADA "contrary to earlier indications" had refused to contribute financially.

"While I am committed to a TRC, it needs to be a process which is in the best interests of our sport and our federation — and which also does not bankrupt it," McQuaid said.

"I hope the lessons learnt from the truth and reconciliation process will help in particular to educate young riders and to help eradicate doping in its entirety from cycling.

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