• Cycling

UCI scraps Armstrong doping investigation

ESPN staff
January 29, 2013
UCI president Pat McQuaid has opted to launch a truth and reconciliation commission © Getty Images

The International Cycling Union has disbanded the independent commission set up to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in favour of a truth and reconciliation commission.

The independent inquiry, launched in the wake of the USADA investigation that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after orchestrating "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen", was shelved after both the world and US anti-doping agencies refused to co-operate.

UCI president Pat McQuaid described the truth and reconciliation commission as "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," adding that WADA president John Fahey had played a key role in the change of approach.

"Fahey 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 said.

"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."

USADA's investigation into the doping culture on the US Postal Service team between 1998 and 2005 also raised questions about the UCI's inability to catch and expose Armstrong.

But the anti-doping authorities' decision to not co-operate with the UCI's three-person commission, which included Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, led the cycling federation to conclude that the resulting report would "not be complete or credible".

After the commission was adjourned last week, Baroness Grey-Thompson told UCI counsel Ian Mill: "It amazes me that we've had no documents whatsoever."

The UCI's truth and reconciliation process, offering amnesties to riders in return for evidence, will launch later this year with its findings to be published in full.

But USADA chief Travis Tygart, who believes Armstrong had influence over the UCI that protected him from being exposed as a doper, remains highly sceptical about the ability of a UCI-led investigation to get to the bottom of allegations against the federation itself.

"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," Tygart 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."

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