Jaimie Fuller, founder of the pressure group Change Cycling Now, has cast doubts over the motives behind the postponement of a public hearing scheduled for London today of the UCI Independent Commission, established to investigate the governing body’s role in the Lance Armstrong affair. The hearing was announced last week as the Commission called for its brief to be widened to include considering the establishment of a truth and reconciliation process, but has now been postponed until Friday, with stalemate between the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency over the issue threatening to undermine the entire process.
The reason given for the rescheduling of today’s hearing was the snow that has fallen over Southern England making travel difficult in the London area, and it’s true that there was widespread disruption at Heathrow airport yesterday, partly due to flights also being delayed or cancelled due to snow on the continent.
However, Fuller, who had planned to attend today’s meeting as an observer, says that he had no problems travelling from Geneva, which is close to the UCI’s headquarters in Aigle, reports Telegraph.co.uk.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an element of the UCI wanting to prevent the hearing from going forward and needing more time to agree to the commission’s request,” commented Fuller, who is chairman of the compression clothing company, Skins.
The Commission called for a change to its terms of reference last Wednesday after both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) said they would not be participating in the inquiry unless its remit was widened to include discussion of a potential truth and reconciliation process.
In a press release issued later that day, the UCI said that it had told WADA that “it would be willing to participate in a truth and reconciliation process covering all sports, or at least endurance sports, if appropriate changes were made to the WADA Code,” the latter a reference to the UCI’s belief that offering an amnesty to dopers would be in breach of the code as it currently stands.
The UCI added that if WADA were to establish a truth and reconciliation process, “it would be happy to participate in such a process and contribute to its funding,” and urged both WADA and USADA to attend this week’s public hearing.
That appeal appears to have been rejected, meaning that there is now stalemate over the issue that potentially threatens the Independent Commission itself – although as the UCI pointed out, its principal raison d’être is to examine the governing body’s own role in the Armstrong scandal, rather than “to act as a doping confessional.”
Fuller, however, believes that it is intransigence on the part of the UCI regarding making consideration of a truth and reconciliation process as part of the Commission’s terms of reference that is threatening the process.
“Politically I can’t see how the UCI can even let it get to a public hearing after the commission has made their position so clear and Lance Armstrong has said he would be the first through the door if there was a truth and reconciliation commission,” he commented.
“Politically their position is untenable if they fight that," he maintained.
“There needs to be two hits. The truth and reconciliation commission will be a long process, probably two years or so, and cycling will open it up to as many people as we need to invite.
"But in the short term we need a short, sharp mini truth and reconciliation process – perhaps three or four weeks – as part of the commission’s ongoing efforts to capture information and testimony regarding the allegations against Lance Armstrong and the UCI made in the USADA reasoned decision,” he added.