UCI disbands Armstrong independent commission

(Reuters) – Cycling’s world governing body is disbanding the Independent Commission which investigated the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in favour of a “truth and reconciliation process”, the UCI said  yesterday.

The UCI said the commission was being disbanded following talks with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey.

“He (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,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said in a statement.

The three-member independent commission set up last year to look into allegations against the world body complained last week it had not received any documents from the UCI and had met resistance from athletes and stakeholders.

“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,” added McQuaid.

The TRC process, in which McQuaid expects WADA to be “fully engaged”, is expected to launch later this year with a report to be published in full. A management committee meeting is scheduled for Friday to further discussions.

McQuaid made it clear last week that the UCI could not afford two separate inquiries, particularly as one involving WADA would likely be longer and broader.

Indications that WADA would share the costs with the UCI, given that it wanted Armstrong to testify, were ruled out by McQuaid.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Armstrong, seven-times Tour de France champion from 1999-2005, was found guilty of cheating his way to victory by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in October and the American’s titles were stripped by the UCI.

McQuaid reiterated his determination to help cycling move forward after Armstrong’s confession to using performance-enhancing drugs and lying about it for over a decade.

“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,” McQuaid said.

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