Lance Armstrong Probe In Trouble As UCI Rejects Dopers' Amnesty Idea
The independent commission set up to probe doping in cycling said that "an amnesty for those who admit to past involvement is needed if the truth is to emerge," according to Matt Slater of the BBC. The Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) appointed the independent panel (UCIIC) but has "rejected an amnesty." As a result, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and pressure group Change Cycling Now "will not take part in the inquiry." The UCIIC has "called for an emergency meeting to resolve the stand-off" (BBC, 1/16). In London, Doug Gratton reported the dispute has "effectively brought the commission’s probe to a standstill before it has started." A "Truth and Reconciliation" process, which would have offered partial protection to any rider or team member who confessed to involvement in doping, "was considered a key component of the investigation, but that proposal is now in tatters" (LONDON TIMES, 1/16). In a separate LONDON TIMES article, Owen Slot wrote, "Just when the sport of cycling most required strong leadership," the UCI, was "publicly humiliated and made to look weak in its stance on doping." Only after it was "exposed as out of tune with world anti-doping authorities" did the organization "partially agree to a Truth and Reconciliation process that may finally allow a line to be drawn under the crimes of the past" (LONDON TIMES, 1/17).
CONCERNS RUN RAMPANT: REUTERS' Julien Pretot reported WADA said that it had "a number of serious concerns regarding the commission's terms of reference and its ability to carry out its role without undue influence." WADA said, "In particular, WADA is concerned that the scope of the inquiry is too focused on sanctioned former cyclist Lance Armstrong ... and will therefore not fully address such a widespread and ingrained problem." WADA also said that the commission's June deadline "would not offer enough time for a proper investigation" (REUTERS, 1/16). In London, Nick Hoult reported USADA joined WADA "in pulling out." USADA CEO Travis Tygart said, "UCI's refusal to agree to allow a limited opportunity for riders to come forward and be truthful without fear of retribution or retaliation from the UCI obviously calls into question the UCI's commitment to a full and thorough investigation and creates grave concern that the UCI has blindfolded and handcuffed this independent commission to ensure a pre-determined outcome" (TELEGRAPH, 1/16).
UNHOLY ALLIANCE: The LONDON TIMES' Jeremy Whittle commented the final hours before Armstrong’s mea culpa to Oprah Winfrey is broadcast "are the death throes of an unholy alliance between Armstrong and the International Cycling Union (UCI), founded on greed and opportunism." The likely conclusions will see "both Armstrong and the UCI eviscerated." Whittle: "One way of the American salvaging something of his honour would be by detailing the scale of his deceit not to Winfrey, but to the UCI’s self-appointed Independent Commission (UCI IC), set up to investigate the governing body’s role in the Armstrong affair." Whittle concludes: "Few within cycling doubt that, if the Texan chose to tell the whole truth, he could take the house down. The victims of an unbridled confession would stretch into the corridors of power, far beyond the peloton and the flotillas of team cars that follow the riders around Europe" (LONDON TIMES, 1/17).