The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has accused the UCI of wanting to play the role of "the fox guarding the henhouse" after world cycling's governing body insisted that it, not USADA, had jurisdiction over the doping case involving Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and others.
Papers filed yesterday in a federal court revealed that the UCI had demanded last month that USADA hand over its files relating to its proceedings against seven-times Tour de France winner Armstrong and Bruyneel, his former manager at the US Postal Service team and elsewhere. USADA opened proceedings in June against the pair and other individuals including the Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari in connection with what it alleges was a massive doping conspiracy.
Among USADA's accusations is one that the UCI was complicit in helping cover up an alleged positive test by Armstrong for EPO on the 2001 Tour de Suisse. The following year, the UCI accepted a $100,000 donation from the cyclist, using those funds to buy a Sysmex blood sample analysis machine. UCI president Pat McQuaid has subsequently described the decision to accept Armstrong's donation as "a mistake" in 2010 after the rider's former team mate, Floyd Landis, alleged it was in effect a bribe.
In a letter sent last month to the anti-doping agency, McQuaid insisted that Armstrong had “the right not to be dragged into disciplinary proceedings unless there are solid grounds for that." Describing the proceedings as "worrisome" and "problematic" since only the agency had details to full details of evidence underpinning its case, McQuaid added: “You may say that you know there are solid grounds, but USADA is the only one that has the file.”
In a letter filed at court yesterday, USADA rejected the UCI's demand to be granted jurisdiction, insisting that it was itself fully entitled to pursue it under its own rules, as well as those of the United States Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency. USADA also maintained that the UCI's letter repeated some of the very points in Armstrong's defence that have been consistently deployed by his legal and PR advisers.
In a statement, USADA's chief executive officer, Travis Tygart, maintained that the UCI, which says it would appoint an independent panel to assess whether charges should be brought, was acting out of self-interest in attempting to take control of the process. “UCI and the participants in the conspiracy who cheated sport with dangerous performance-enhancing drugs to win have a strong incentive to cover up what transpired,” said Tygart. “The participants in the conspiracy have lashed out in the press, gone to Congress and filed a lawsuit to avoid a public display of the evidence before neutral judges. “Efforts to intimidate, scare or pressure us to conceal the truth will not stop us from doing the job we are mandated to do,” he added. Next Friday August 10, a judge in Austin, Texas, will preside over a hearing at which Armstrong is due to argue that USADA's actions infringe his constitutional rights.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.