Independent Commission suspended as UCI aims to formulate truth and reconciliation process with WADA

Commission's work on hold, changes to World Anti Doping Code needed before process can move ahead

by Simon_MacMichael   January 25, 2013  

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UPDATE: The Independent Commission established by the UCI to investigate its role in the Lance Armstrong scandal has "reluctantly" agreed to suspend its activities until next Thursday 31 January to allow time for the UCI to seek to agree plans in principle with the World Anti Doping Agency for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and potential doping amnesty. Both the UCI and the Independent Commission have issued statements outlining their positions (full text below) following a dramatic public hearing of the Commission in London this morning.

The UCI has stated that it "will seek to jointly develop with WADA the legal framework for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including providing for an amnesty programme," adding that it "will share a first draft of this framework with WADA no later than Monday."

Earlier today, it appeared that the Commission, which was due to hold evidential hearings in April and publish its report in June, was  to be suspended indefinitely; in its own statement this afternoon, it says that "Next week [presumably after that agreement in principle has been reached], the Commission will then decide whether to proceed with the present Agenda which includes as its next item a reconsideration of the Terms of Reference."

It adds "On that occasion we will consider whether or not the Commission will continue with the present timetable and whether or not to vacate the hearing due to take place in April 2013 or to take any other appropriate action."

WADA, among others, had withdrawn from participating in the Independent Commission's process, insisting that truth and reconciliation be one of the issues discussed. While we won't know until next week whether it and the UCI, so often at crossed swords and even more so since the Armstrong scandal broke, have found common ground, it appears that the governing body is prepared to go some way towards reconciling itself with the agency on the issue.

Given the scenes in London this morning at the hearing which had already been postponed from Monday, ostensibly due to the weather, but attributed by some to be a bid on the UCI's part to buy more time, it does appear that the governing body was backed into a corner with only two options open to it - allow the Commission to collapse and suffer further damage to its credibility, or push forward with a truth and recociliation process in a format acceptable to WADA.

It seems to have chosen the second course, but there is of course no guarantee that agreement will be reached, and the next few days will therefore be critical to the entire process and with it the potential of a lasting beneficial legacy to the sport from the Armstrong era.

This morning's dramatic developments were reported in a series of posts on Twitter by BBC journalist Richard Conway, who was present at the hearing in London, which had been convened by the Commission after WADA withdrew, citing the UCI's refusal to contemplate a truth and reconcilation process.

The Commission had been pushing for consideration of such a process to be incoprated within its terms of reference, but the UCI said that it should apply not just to cycling but to all sports, or at least endurance ones, and that the World Anti Doping Code needed to be changed to comply with any potential amnesty or other provisions of the process that might be in conflict with current rules.

Detailed plans will be unveiled in March - there is talk of a three-week window for a doping amnesty to allow people to come forward -  but the UCI insists that changes must be made to the Code before it can proceed.

According to Conway, the UCI said that assuming that happens, the truth and reconciliation process will start this summer and that it expects it will take a year to hear all witnesses. He added that Lance Armstrong's statement during his interview with Oprah Winfrey that he would willingly participate in such a process was a major influence on the governing body's decision.

As the hearing concluded, he was reporting something of a standoff between lawyers for the UCI and members of the Commission, who he says are concerned that the latest developments are something of a smokescreen to mask the shelving of the allegations against the governing body contained in USADA's report into the Armstrong case.

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.

Full UCI statement on Truth and Reconcilation Commission, 25 January 2013

UCI to seek to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with WADA

The International Cycling Union (UCI) today announced that it aims to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to look at doping in professional cycling.   The UCI made the announcement at the first public hearing of the Independent Commission established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the recent USADA reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service (USPS) team.  The Independent Commission, which was established on 30 November 2012, is chaired by the eminent former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton, and includes the UK House of Lords Peer and Paralympic Champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and the Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC.

The UCI will seek to jointly develop with WADA the legal framework for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including providing for an amnesty programme. The UCI will share a first draft of this framework with WADA no later than Monday.  The aim will be to announce the final format of the Commission around the end of March.  The amnesty programme will need to be approved by the WADA Foundation Board.

The UCI also committed to update the Independent Commission on its discussions with WADA before a second public hearing next Thursday.

Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, said: “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 so that cycling can move forward.  In addition to contact between our lawyers about establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission I spoke to the Director-General of WADA earlier this week and I will be speaking to its President over the weekend. I welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with WADA on this. 

As I have said many times, when I became President of the UCI in 2005, the fight against the culture of doping was – together with globalisation of our sport – my top priority.  The UCI’s anti-doping procedures are and have been among the most innovative and stringent in sport including being the first federation to introduce the blood passport in 2008. 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.”

UCI Independent Commission decsion, 25 January 2013

The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to both Leading Counsel for their statements which have enabled the Commission to assess the present position and to reach its conclusion.

The first item on the Agenda for today is to consider the proposed Amnesty and Truth and Reconciliation process. The Commission has tried to assess what progress has been made by all parties since the Commission voiced its concerns publicly last week.

One of the difficulties that the Commission has faced in carrying out this Inquiry is the reluctance of some witnesses to engage with this Inquiry without the protection of an Amnesty that would ensure that they could provide evidence to the Commission without the fear of subsequent disciplinary action against them. Another difficulty has been the reluctance of WADA, USADA and CCN to participate in our proceedings or to provide evidence that they undoubtedly have unless there was an Amnesty in place; to which UCI until recently has been unwilling to agree.

The Commission came to the view that some form of witness Amnesty was desirable to enable the Commission to gather comprehensive evidence for this Inquiry. The Commission also believed, and still strongly believes, that an Amnesty is important for the good of professional cycling generally.

There is at present no agreement between UCI, WADA and USADA in relation to any Amnesty. The Commission is aware of the original proposal suggested by USADA which has been discussed today. The Commission was informed only yesterday of UCI’s position.

Accordingly we do not know the reaction of WADA and USADA to UCI’s position. The UCI has been unable to establish to our satisfaction what the true position is of WADA and USADA in response to UCI’s present position.

It appears to the Commission that an all-embracing agreement is not a sufficiently real possibility that we should accede to UCI’s proposal that we should suspend this Inquiry. The Commission is persuaded that we should allow an opportunity for discussions to continue and for the parties to reach a viable agreement in sufficient detail on an Amnesty.

In the circumstances the Commission has decided, with considerable reluctance, that the best course is to adjourn this Procedural Hearing until Thursday 31 January 2013 which should be sufficient time for the participants to reach an agreement in principle, if not detail. In the meantime the Commission expects to be informed by UCI of the progress of the Amnesty discussion.

Next week, the Commission will then decide whether to proceed with the present Agenda which includes as its next item a reconsideration of the Terms of Reference.

On that occasion we will consider whether or not the Commission will continue with the present timetable and whether or not to vacate the hearing due to take place in April 2013 or to take any other appropriate action. In the meantime the Commission will consider the documents in UCI’s possession, custody or control, which Leading Counsel for UCI has said will be made available today to the Commission.

There must be no doubt that the Commission is concerned to ensure that embarking on an Amnesty process does not prevent the criticisms of the UCI in the USADA Reasoned Decision from being fully investigated with expedition. The Commission recognises the immense public interest in determining why and how Lance Armstrong and the USPS team were able to engage (as recently, publicly admitted) in systematic doping without detection or sanction.

In the meantime the Commission will remain on standby and offers assistance in the process if required and will remain so whatever the outcome of the adjourned hearing.

We note the verbal assurance that if a witness gives evidence against UCI no subsequent or other disciplinary action will be taken by UCI. We direct the Solicitors for the Commission and the Solicitors for UCI to confer and formulate the precise terms of any such assurance which we will consider at the next hearing. We would like this assurance to be conveyed to any witness who is minded to come forward.

 

22 user comments

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I thought nothing the UCI did now could shock me but I was wrong.

I am aghast at how the UCI are treating this issue, to neutralise an independent commission without having a proper plan in place and by fighting against WADA they're backing themselves into a corner on doping and I hope to hell they're now made to pay.

I was hopeful that the UCI could be encouraged to change as part of the fallout from the Armstrong affair but they seem so resistent to change that I just don't know where they can go from here.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
25th January 2013 - 13:09

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I doubt they can neutralize it now. Surely once they request it, and CAS set it up, that's it? It has to run its course?

Otherwise it'd be like letting the cop search your glove box, then suddenly changing your mind when you remember just where it was you stashed your stash. Too late!

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [580 posts]
25th January 2013 - 13:25

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By the pricking of my thumbs a legal gravy train this way comes.

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posted by Wooliferkins [47 posts]
25th January 2013 - 13:27

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The UCI actually begin to make our politicians look almost competent. Best thing for them would be to organise a works trip to Dignitas, it's in the same country so not far to travel and looking increasingly like the only way out for them.

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posted by bikeandy61 [386 posts]
25th January 2013 - 13:30

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PJ McNally wrote:
I doubt they can neutralize it now. Surely once they request it, and CAS set it up, that's it? It has to run its course?

Otherwise it'd be like letting the cop search your glove box, then suddenly changing your mind when you remember just where it was you stashed your stash. Too late!

CAS didn't set it up, UCI appointed someone who happens to have ties to CAS to set it up.

Better analogy might be engaging a private eye to investigate something then promptly sacking them when they start asking uncomfortable questions.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7910 posts]
25th January 2013 - 13:35

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I got the impression Paddy wants to delay the explosion of the doping bomb and related fall out till after his reelection. Angry

posted by Dr. Ko [109 posts]
25th January 2013 - 13:59

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Another massive nail in the coffins of McQuaid and Verbruggen. I'm seriously beginning to think that the end might actually be in sight for them

posted by Sam1 [212 posts]
25th January 2013 - 14:00

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What a farce. We knew they would do this. How can these two cronies Verbruggen and McQuaid be allowed to ruin our sport? All I can suggest is that whatever they are trying to hide is so explosive that ANY other option is preferable to letting it out. My guess, again purely speculative, but based on cicumstantial evidence, is that there is concrete proof linking the Armstrong donations to the white-washing of his positive tests. When we all know this, why can't we do something about it?

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posted by theclaw [75 posts]
25th January 2013 - 14:17

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for UCI read NFFP Angry

posted by pondlife [16 posts]
25th January 2013 - 14:44

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Screw the UCI. If all Pro teams got together and pulled out, a new governing body was formed and a new "rainbow" jersey, I think it'd do the sport a lot of good.

posted by pmr [163 posts]
25th January 2013 - 14:46

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"The Commission had been pushing for consideration of such a process to be incoprated within its terms of reference, but the UCI said that it should apply not just to cycling but to all sports, or at least endurance ones, and that the World Anti Doping Code needed to be changed to comply with any potential amnesty or other provisions of the process that might be in conflict with current rules."
This bit does seem to make sense though!
With the reference point of the current Operation Puerto case (cycling, football, tennis etc involved), it is quite likely that testimony would implicate other sports and if it was just restricted to cycling that would seem wrong. Also, I bet the WADA code doesn't allow for an amnesty of this type, so likely would need changing.

posted by pwake [280 posts]
25th January 2013 - 14:59

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pwake wrote:
"The Commission had been pushing for consideration of such a process to be incoprated within its terms of reference, but the UCI said that it should apply not just to cycling but to all sports, or at least endurance ones, and that the World Anti Doping Code needed to be changed to comply with any potential amnesty or other provisions of the process that might be in conflict with current rules."
This bit does seem to make sense though!
With the reference point of the current Operation Puerto case (cycling, football, tennis etc involved), it is quite likely that testimony would implicate other sports and if it was just restricted to cycling that would seem wrong. Also, I bet the WADA code doesn't allow for an amnesty of this type, so likely would need changing.

I can see what they're getting at here, but can't see it working at this point. Amnestys work because there is a period of punishment/enforcement beforehand. This way, when the amnesty comes in, the guilty parties give themselves up to avoid being caught/punished in the future. In other sports though, I think the doping culture is probably much like cycling 10 years ago - i.e. blase at best, "I'm untouchable" at worst, so there's no real incentive for those involved in other sports to confess.

As for the rest of the story, cancelling the independent (apparently not that independent) commission just because Lance implies that he *might* sing like a canary, is a complete farce.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2940 posts]
25th January 2013 - 15:12

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WADA have said repeatedly and unequivocally that they can accommodate a truth and reconciliation process, this is just the usual self-preservation strategy from the UCI. And forget other sports, the UCIIC is trying to investigate doping in cycling and the UCI role in that - so how does that require any action with regard to other sports.

The UCI are clearly stalling again and again, and that is as obvious to the UCIIC as it is to us. Fortunately, I think that the individuals making up the UCIIC are reputable and strong, and hopefully will continue to pursue these issues. The UCI already look pathetic and stupid and guilty as hell - and they sink deeper into the mire as every day passes.

posted by Westy [10 posts]
25th January 2013 - 15:18

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Whenever I think the UCI can't possibly get any worse, it does. How much longer?

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
25th January 2013 - 15:31

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pmr wrote:
Screw the UCI. If all Pro teams got together and pulled out, a new governing body was formed and a new "rainbow" jersey, I think it'd do the sport a lot of good.

Whilst you may want this, the suggestion that pro teams form a governing body does nothing for the sport in general. They only represent a tiny fraction of the sport's participants, do not represent organisers, officials, and reasonably enough only would want to consider what would be the best for them. Then again, which pro teams? Just Protour, or add in Pro-Conti, or add in again Conti, and then what about the women's teams. Lots of unanswered questions, which is what often happens with a knee-jerk reaction.
Solid and well thought through proposals seem to be much harder to come by, all we get is throw people out, form another body, have CCN run things (this is a joke!), and yet no-one wants to mention how any of this helps all the myriad of riders, officials, organisers who daily work away for nothing in a sport they love.
Somewhere, despite all the troubles, will come a solution, but only when a serious reality check has been done by some of the noisier self-publicising "contributors".

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
25th January 2013 - 15:34

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notfastenough wrote:
As for the rest of the story, cancelling the independent (apparently not that independent) commission just because Lance implies that he *might* sing like a canary, is a complete farce.

I think if there is one clear message coming out of this, it's that the Independent Commission is a lot more "independent" than the UCI (and a number of observers who had cast doubts on its freedom) expected.

We're expecting a statement from the Commission later today and will add it once we receive it.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7910 posts]
25th January 2013 - 15:40

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
As for the rest of the story, cancelling the independent (apparently not that independent) commission just because Lance implies that he *might* sing like a canary, is a complete farce.

I think if there is one clear message coming out of this, it's that the Independent Commission is a lot more "independent" than the UCI (and a number of observers who had cast doubts on its freedom) expected.

We're expecting a statement from the Commission later today and will add it once we receive it.

Oh yeah I get that, it's more that once the IC has been launched, it seems odd that the UCI can just say "oh hang on, false alarm, we might not need you any more".

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2940 posts]
25th January 2013 - 15:59

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I have not read this, I just saw the twitter feed

Quote:
Updated: UCI confirms it will seek to set up Truth & Reconciliation Commission with WADA

And thought

YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH........

I'll get my coat

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posted by Gkam84 [8685 posts]
25th January 2013 - 16:39

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pwake wrote:
"The Commission had been pushing for consideration of such a process to be incoprated within its terms of reference, but the UCI said that it should apply not just to cycling but to all sports, or at least endurance ones, and that the World Anti Doping Code needed to be changed to comply with any potential amnesty or other provisions of the process that might be in conflict with current rules."
This bit does seem to make sense though!

Maybe. Or could it be that they need to make sure that the amnesty would apply, not only to riders, DSs etc, but to presidents and honorary presidents too?

Could Hein and Pat want to come clean? "For the good of cycling"?

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posted by PJ McNally [580 posts]
25th January 2013 - 16:46

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"We note the verbal assurance that if a witness gives evidence against UCI no subsequent or other disciplinary action will be taken by UCI. "

Great job from the independent commission - documenting UCI promises. Let's hope they stick to them.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [580 posts]
25th January 2013 - 17:17

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Wasn't all this proposed in October if not earlier? They set up a commission then get worried when the commission questions its narrow terms and when USADA and WADA wash their hands of it because it has been convened with only one possible outcome. How much time and money are they wasting? And Fat Pat outside says the usual 'it all happened before my time...' Please!!

If I was only half as good as I am in my own mind.

posted by JulesW [24 posts]
25th January 2013 - 18:27

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So far the only cycling body to do their job and doggedly pursue the truth and hand down any meaningful sanctions, has been USADA. Travis Angry Tygart refused to be bought off or intimidated and showed zero allegiance to sponsors or country in the performance of his duties. Perhaps the european model of control over cycling needs to end and a truely international approach adopted. When governments overturn decisions and sanctions (Spain)to protect a national rider something has to change. The UCI is a complete fraud and should be immediately disbanded. Guess the riders don't have the necessary courage to tell them "we no longer recognize your authority and are forming an autonomous body". The sponsors will follow the riders because it is in their financial intrest.

Michael R. Smith

posted by American tifosi [37 posts]
25th January 2013 - 23:05

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