WADA hit out at UCI over Armstrong case
The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency has launched an astonishing blast at the International Cycling Union (UCI) over its handling of the Lance Armstrong case.
WADA president John Fahey has accused the UCI of setting up a “useless” independent commission into the case, avoiding its responsibilities, blaming others, and missing a previous opportunity to deal with accusations of Armstrong’s doping.
The row comes after the UCI refused to agree to a truth and reconciliation commission for cycling, which would have seen an amnesty where cyclists and officials could admit to doping without fear of disciplinary action.
It will put further pressure on the UCI’s president Pat McQuaid and honorary president Hein Verbruggen, who have been in the firing line for the governing body’s alleged failure to have tackled doping in the past.
The UCI said it would only agree to a truth and reconciliation process involving all sports, not just cycling, and criticised WADA for refusing to take part in the commission’s probe.
Fahey responded tonight, saying: “After careful review of the terms of reference and the commission’s proposed work programme, WADA reached the conclusion that the UCI was not allowing the commission to conduct a proper and independent investigation.
“Therefore, WADA has decided not to take part and invest its limited resources into such a questionable and useless exercise.
“It has again become apparent that rather than deal with the obvious problems that exist within the sport of cycling, the UCI once again would like to avoid its responsibilities and instead seek to blame WADA and others.
“This is not the first time that the UCI has acted in this way. In 2005 when an opportunity arose to address an allegation of doping by Armstrong, the UCI commissioned a so-called independent report – the Vrijman Report – which totally failed to address the substance of the allegations against Armstrong.
“The shortcomings of the Vrijman Report were obvious at the time and more so today.”
Fahey said cycling now had to confront its past and not deflect the blame.
He added: “It has become typical of the UCI to point fingers at others when yet another doping controversy hits the sport of cycling.
“There is no question that the system put into place by Armstrong and others was sophisticated, but the USADA decision raises many other questions that remain unanswered.
“For the UCI to say it knew nothing about the systemic doping in its sport and could do nothing more is precisely what the independent commission should be inquiring into, provided all the evidence is made available to it. WADA has no confidence that this will occur.”
Fahey claimed the UCI’s insistence on bringing in other sports was another attempt to deflect attention.
“WADA has already announced that it will not be taking part in the independent commission, and the UCI’s failure to address the concerns raised by WADA and other invited parties is further proof of the commission’s lack of independence and limited terms of reference,” said Fahey.
Armstrong, meanwhile, has been officially stripped of his Olympic bronze medal won at the 2000 Sydney Games, just hours before what looks set to be a public confession regarding doping is due to be aired.
The International Olympic Committee has demanded the 41-year-old return the medal after his results in all competitions were disqualified.
The IOC’s announcement comes only hours before Armstrong’s expected admission of cheating on talk-show host Oprah Winfrey’s programme.
The IOC acted after the UCI stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and disqualified all of his results.
The 41-year-old was banned for life after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found he had been at the heart of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.