Retired Court of Appeal Judge and Australian QC other members - commission to hear evidence in London

Britain's most famous paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton and a Australian QC Malcolm Holmes - who is also president of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority - will make up the three-person Independent Commission set up to look in to the UCI's handling of the Lance Armstrong affair.

Interestingly both of the legal experts on the commission are members of the same London Chambers 20 Essex Street which according to its website specialices in resolving international disputes "and providing legal advice for, companies and businesses and for state and public authorities. Clients come from a wide range of industries and public sectors."

Retired Court of Appeal judge, Sir Philip Otton will chair the commission which announced its creation in its own press statement today. The commision also has its own website at www.uciic.org which invites "all persons in possession of information that may assist the Commission in relation to the Terms of Reference" (see below) to contact the commission. The website also contains biographies of the three committee members and of the commision's independent counsel, Guy Morpuss QC.

The commission will conduct hearings in London from the 9th to the 26th of April next year and intends to hand in its completed report by the 1st of June. The three members of the commission have drafted its terms of reference:

1. Whether the allegations against the UCI set out in the 
Reasoned Decision are well founded.

2. Whether, between 1998 and 2012, the UCI realised that Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team were collaborating
to avoid detection in the use, possession, administration and trafficking of performance enhancing drugs and methods, and: ( i ) if the UCI did realise, whether it failed to respond appropriately; and (ii) if the UCI did not realise, whether it ought to have done so, and what steps (if any) it should have taken to inform itself of the actions of Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team in order to act appropriately.

3. Whether, and if so, to what extent the UCI’s anti-doping policies and procedures between ( i ) 1998 and 2005 and (ii) 2005 and 2012, were inadequate or were not enforced with sufficient rigour; and if so, whether the UCI was at
the time aware, or ought to have been aware, of such inadequacy or lack of enforcement.

4. Whether there was, between 1998 and 2012, any reliable evidence or information in the possession of or known to the UCI regarding allegations or suspicions of doping by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team; and if so, whether there was any failure by the UCI to act appropriately in regard to such information.

5. Whether, when Lance Armstrong returned to racing in 2009, there was a failure by the UCI to detect signs of doping by him, and whether it was appropriate for him to return to and continue racing.

6. Whether payments were made by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team to the UCI, between 1998 and 2012,
and if so whether it was appropriate for the UCI to have accepted such payments, or to have accepted them on the basis (explicit or implicit) upon which they were made.

7. Whether the UCI inappropriately discouraged those persons with knowledge of doping by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team from coming forward with such knowledge, and whether the UCI should have done more to encourage such persons to come forward sooner.

8. Whether the UCI adequately co-operated with, assisted in and reacted to the USADA USPS Team Investigation.

9. Whether any persons previously convicted of doping, or voluntarily admitting to doping, or supporting riders in doping, should be able to work within the world of cycling in the future; and, if not, how such a prohibition could and should be enforced.

10. Whether the UCI had a conflict of interest between its roles in promoting the sport of cycling and in investigating or making adverse findings against Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team.

11. Whether the current doping controls of the UCI are adequate and compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and whether those controls can be improved.

In announcing the appointments the UCI once again stressed it will be independent of both the UCI and the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) and of ICAS the organisation that oversees CAS. The members of the commission were themselves appointed by John Coates president of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in an attempt to by the UCI hierarchy to demonstrate it's independence from the process. The UCI also point out that the commission will have its own legal counsel and that the UCI and that the cycling governing body will engage its own legal team to represent it in proceedings.

Commenting on the appointment of the commission and its terms of reference, UCI president, Pat McQuaid further emphasised the body's independence from the UCI.

“I am grateful to John Coates, President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport, for assembling such a high calibre and truly Independent Commission. The wide ranging terms of reference demonstrate the Commission’s determination to review fully the issues contained in the USADA report and I welcome that.”

McQuaid continued: “As I have said previously, the Commission’s report and recommendations are critical to restoring confidence in the sport of cycling and in the UCI as its governing body.  We will co-operate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their enquiry and we urge all other interested stakeholders to do the same.  We will listen to and act on the Commission’s recommendations.”

In fact it was almost a one note tune from the head of the UCI barring a plaintive section on how much all this was costing the organisation financially.

“The costs of the Independent Commission will be a significant burden on the UCI, however it is clear that only such a decisive and transparent examination of the past will answer our critics by thoroughly examining our assertion that the UCI’s anti-doping procedures are and have been among the most innovative and stringent in sport. ”

However, the UCI president is well aware that getting this right is a major investment in restoring the moral authority and credibility of an organisation that has taken a battering over both the Armstrong affair and the wider question of its handling of the doping problem within professional cycling.

McQuaid also took the opportunity to address the UCI's critics:

“Some of our critics have suggested that this Commission would not be fully independent. They were wrong. The UCI had no influence on the selection of the Commission members.

“The appointment of these three eminent figures demonstrates clearly that the UCI wants to get to the bottom of the Lance Armstrong affair and put cycling back on the right track. Rather than simply attacking the UCI, our critics now have an opportunity to be part of the solution. I would ask them, therefore, to make their representation to the Independent Commission – and to start to put cycling first."

In the next two week the UCI says it will announce futher details of what it describes as "a wide-ranging Stakeholder Consultation to look into the future of cycling and discuss how to bring in lasting improvements, as well as to tackle other issues of concern within the sport."

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.