The UCI Independent Commission has announced it is to hold a public hearing in London as soon as possible after 21 January on the question of establishing a truth and reconciliation process to examine doping in cycling - a postion that would appear to put it in direct onflict with the UCI which has already rejected the idea. The Commission was set up by the UCI late last year to examine the governing body’s own role in the Lance Armstrong scandal.
The announcement, the commission's first, should go some way towards dispelling doubts held in some quarters that it is truly independent. It follows news yesterday that neither the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) nor the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) would be participating in the Commission’s inquiry unless its terms of reference were changed to address the prospect of a truth and reconciliation process.
That itself followed the rejection last week by the UCI of a draft process that had been drawn up by USADA.
WADA, among others, has also been calling for such a process to be drawn up to establish a full or partial doping amnesty for riders, team staff and management to step forward and admit to their involvement in doping.
The Commission says that it forwarded USADA’s draft proposals to the UCI on 21 December, but the governing body rejected them on 9 January.
Subsequent to that latter date, it has emerged that Lance Armstrong, reported to have confessed to doping to Oprah Winfrey is reportedly planning to name UCI officials.
Yesterday, as some details of the interview to be screened tomorrow evening in the United States were leaked, the UCI said that if those reports were true, it urged Armstrong to give evidence to the Commission.
The issue of a potential amnesty is one topic listed in the UCI’s ‘Four Pillars’ of governance, published in December, which will form the basis of its forthcoming stakeholder consultation.
Change Cycling Now, the pressure group that held its inaugural two-day meeting in London last month, has also called for a truth and reconciliation process to be drawn up, setting out its proposals in its Charter of the Willing.
It also questioned whether the Commission was really independent, since the UCI had itself appointed the man who chose its members and set its terms of reference.
The Commission was appointed at the end of November at the request of the UCI by John Coates, President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as well as President of the Australian Olympic Committee;
It is chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton, and the other two members are the Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson and Australian QC, Malcolm Holmes, who is also President of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
There is a comprehensive FAQ about the Commission's work on its website.
In a statement issued this morning, the UCI Independent Commission said:
“It is of great regret to the Commission that the UCI, WADA and USADA have not been able to reach agreement to a Truth and Reconciliation process, and that WADA, USADA and CCN have indicated to the Commission that they do not wish to participate in the Inquiry on the present Terms of Reference.
“The Commission is of the view that a Truth and Reconciliation process is desirable for the purposes of this Inquiry, and that such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the Commission at its hearing in April 2013. The Commission is of the view that such a process would be in the interests not only of the Inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole.
“The Commission, via the Solicitors to the Inquiry, has written to the UCI’s solicitors, urging the UCI to reconsider its position.
“In addition, the Commission has decided to hold a procedural hearing, to take place as soon as possible after 21 January 2013, in public, where this issue will be addressed with the UCI.
“At that hearing the Commission will also consider the scope of the Terms of Reference generally, and in particular Terms of Reference #1, 3 and 9; and will consider the current state of the timetable.
“The Commission is of the view that the participation of USADA, WADA and CCN in the Inquiry would assist the Commission, and it hopes that they will give further consideration to participating, and will continue to explore the possibility of a Truth and Reconciliation process directly with the UCI.
“The procedural hearing will be in Central London, and the date, venue and time will be confirmed shortly.
“In the meantime the Commission encourages any person who does not need the benefit of an amnesty to come forward and give evidence by contacting Geoff Steward of Macfarlanes at Geoff.Steward [at] macfarlanes.com.”
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.