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WADA Boss Condemns UCI 'Deceit'

Jan 30, 2013  - Craig Lord


On the day that a Spanish doctor had his "privacy" (data containing the names of athletes and others who worked with him) protected by a Madrid hearing to get to the heart of his alleged role in doping and a Chinese swimmer and her coach finally received a suspension for EPO use 10 months after a positive test was returned involvement, the war on cheating in sport escalated.

Against a backdrop of cases in which leading athletes have been tested myriad times over many years but never been caught before finally either confessing or being caught by processes beyond the anti-doping regime, here are the words of John Fahey, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency: "WADA is dismayed by the press release issued by UCI yesterday, both in terms of its content and its deceit."

The man at the helm of a body accused of deceit is Pat McQuaid, President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), which yesterday decided to scrap its independent commission into the Lance Armstrong affair in favour of a truth and reconciliation process. The alleged deceit centres on the UCI's statement that it will work with WADA on truth and reconciliation. WADA says that is not what has happened or will happen as a result of the cycling federation's latest actions. 

Fahey hinted that McQuaid would have to quit his post before WADA engages with the UCI. "WADA has not and will not consider partaking in any venture with UCI while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues," he said. 

The UCI's stand was "one or the other", either an independent inquiry or truth and reconciliation: its decision to abandon the idea that it would be possible to run both at the same time has been condemned widely.

"The Independent Commission established by UCI was intended to review the allegations of complicity of UCI in the Lance Armstrong doping conspiracy as raised by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) in its thorough decision," said Fahey.

"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."

The UCI scrapped its Independent Commission after WADA and the USADA declined to cooperate with that body over fears that it was being controlled by the UCI. Even members of the commission aired doubts about whether they would have been left to run a truly independent process. The three-member Commission was made up of chairman Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes, all of whom clashed with the UCI over terms of reference at a hearing in London.

"It has decided to terminate its own Commission on the grounds that others refuse to participate, and not for any reason that the Commission was precluded from operating transparently and without fear," Fahey told reporters. "WADA was not part of the decision to establish such a {Independent] Commission, it was not even consulted. When asked to participate, WADA was at pains to point out the inadequacies of the terms of reference and the timelines. The Commission's lawyers agreed to point those out in order to remedy them. These were not addressed by UCI or the Commission so WADA declined to participate."

WADA wanted the UCI to accept that the Armstrong case was decided and could not be re-litigated. It also noted that the timelines for the evidence in the UCI inquiry were unrealistic and wanted the UCI to accept a process under which none prepared to come forward and give witness would fear retribution. WADA also wanted immediate publication of the findings of the inquiry, rather than publication after UCI vetting and editing.

"These were all rejected by UCI without discussion," said Fahey. 

As such, Fahey noted, the UCI's line that it will work with WADA on truth and reconciliation is wholly wrong: "…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," said the WADA boss. "This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful. The fact is that WADA was awaiting a reply to the correspondence when the UCI release was delivered."

The decision to scrap the UCI Commission drew fire from Change Cycling Now (CCN). "The UCI statement is an odorous mishmash of self-serving misinformation," said CCN founder Jaimie Fuller. "It's a severe and disgusting manipulation of the truth. It is disgraceful and frankly ridiculous that the UCI now suggests it is saving the whole process by organising its own review of itself and suggesting that it is merely complying with the wishes of others. That is not the case and it is further evidence that the UCI has never had any intention of wanting to get to the truth. Cycling's future prosperity can only be assured by an administration that cares about the sport rather than itself."

Fuller then plunged the knife in when he added: "There can surely be no doubt that the President and his senior colleagues must now be removed from office."

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart joined the anti-UCI chorus. "We support a well-structured truth and reconciliation process but the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome in this effort," he said. "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."

A Commission statement from the disbanded group noted: "The Commission remains concerned as to WADA's and the UCI's ability to agree the scope, timing and structure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also whether the Truth and Reconciliation process is sufficiently advanced to justify the UCI's termination of this Inquiry. When this Commission was announced, Pat McQuaid stated that the UCI 'will cooperate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their inquiry' and urged 'all other interested stakeholders to do the same'.

"Neither the UCI nor interested stakeholders have provided sufficient co-operation to enable the Commission to do its job. This failure to cooperate makes our task impossible."