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The UCI today announced that it is disbanding the Independent Commission – established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the USADA reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service (USPS) team – since WADA, USADA have refused to cooperate with the inquiry. The Independent Commission itself has said that any report it produced without these bodies being involved in the process would be dismissed as not being complete or credible.
UCI President Pat McQuaid said: “As I said last Friday, we have listened carefully to the views of WADA, USADA and cycling stakeholders and have decided that a truth and reconciliation process is the best way to examine the culture of doping in cycling in the past and to clear the air so that cycling can move forward.
“Over the weekend I spoke to John Fahey, President of WADA. 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.”
McQuaid continued: “Given this development, the UCI Management Committee today decided that the federation could no longer fund a procedure whose outcome is likely to be rejected by such an important stakeholder. 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. I would like to thank Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malcolm Holmes QC for their work which I am sorry they will not be able to complete.
“We will now focus our efforts on establishing a TRC, with which we expect WADA to be fully engaged, to look at doping in professional cycling, as well as the allegations contained in the USADA reasoned decision. The work that has so far been undertaken by the Independent Commission will be shared with the TRC.”
It is expected that the TRC process will launch later this year – and, following its completion, its report will be published in full.
The Independent Commission, established in November 2012, was chaired by the eminent former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton, and included the UK House of Lords Peer and Paralympic Champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and the Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC.
Despite the Independent Commission members being appointed by John Coates, President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport, WADA, USADA and others immediately attacked the independence of its members. These bodies also criticised the terms of reference set by the Commission itself and wrongly claimed the UCI might block publication of the Independent Commission’s report, despite it being made clear publicly from the outset that the report would be published immediately and in full.
The Management Committee took the decision to disband the Independent Commission before its second public hearing on Thursday since it made no sense to spend six figure legal fees and other running costs this week when it was clear that WADA and USADA would not co-operate with it and thus any final report would be dismissed as not being complete, or not credible; a TRC was widely seen as the way forward, but WADA and others didn’t see the Independent Commission as part of that new process.
Mr McQuaid added: “This is too important for rushed discussions, or hasty decisions. It is completely unrealistic to expect that we and WADA can sort through all the details of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in just a couple of days, based on an arbitrary deadline set by the Independent Commission of Thursday.
“There is still a huge amount to discuss before we can finalise a detailed legal framework, including how such a TRC, which is completely unprecedented in sport, should be funded now that WADA contrary to earlier indications refuses to contribute financially. This is something that will be discussed fully at the management committee meeting on Friday. I would stress that, 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.”
“I hope the lessons learned from the truth and reconciliation process will help in particular to educate young riders and to help eradicate doping in its entirety from cycling.”