USADA boss slams UCI over scrapping of "blindfolded and handcuffed" Independent Commission
Travis Tygart reacts to yesterday evening's decision by governing body to disband panel
Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) has accused the UCI of having “blindfolded and handcuffed” the Independent Commission it set up to examine its own role in the Lance Armstrong scandal, following the governing body’s announcement yesterday evening that it was disbanding the panel. He has also accused the UCI of acting to protect its own interests.
“The UCI blindfolded and handcuffed its independent commission and now hopes the world will look the other way while the UCI attempts to insert itself into the investigation into the role it played in allowing the doping culture to flourish,” commented Tygart in a statement issued via email.
Last night, the UCI laid the blame for its decision to scrap the Independent Commission firmly at the door of USADA and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), saying that their refusal to participate in the process meant that any report would be incomplete and lack credibility. At the same time, it said that it was working with WADA to formulate a Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
The Independent Commission, chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton, and also comprising the Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson and Australian QC, Malcolm Holmes, who is also President of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, is expected to issue a statement later today in reaction to the UCI’s announcement.
It had been ordered by the UCI Management Committee in October in part to address allegations against the governing body contained in USADA’s Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong case. The Independent Commission had been due to hold evidential hearings in April and to issue its report in June.
On Friday it held a public hearing in London to debate, among other issues, whether consideration of a truth and reconciliation process and potential amnesty should be incorporated within its terms of reference.
Both USADA and WADA had pushed for such a process to be instituted, but until a very public u-turn by the UCI on the subject threw Friday’s hearing into chaos, the governing body had appeared inflexible on the issue, saying that it should apply to other sports beyond cycling, and that the World Anti Doping Code would need to be changed to take account of any amnesty.
“We have always fully supported a well-structured truth and reconciliation process in order to clean up the sport and protect the rights of athletes,” added Tygart, “but it is clear that the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome in this effort.”