The UCI management committee has taken what it describes as "decisive action" in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair that includes the setting up of an independent commission - whose members will not be nominated by the UCI - to investigate the UCI's conduct during the Armstrong era and to publish recommendations no later than June 2013. The commission will also investigate ways in which those caught for doping can be prevented from working within the sport, including in team entourages.
No victories will be awarded to any riders in the events affected by the affair between 1998 and 2005 and the UCI has suspended its legal action for defamation against the journalist Paul Kimmage, UCI president Pat McQuaid honorary vice president, Hein Verbruggen have also put their cases on hold pending the report of the independent commission.
The decision not to re-assign results from the races affected by Armstrong's conviction for doping and his and his former teammates who admitted doping and also had their results annulled confirms the stance taken by Tour de France organiser ASO with race director Christian Prudhomme having gone on record to say that the Tour should have no winner between 1999 and 2005. It is unlikely though to be universally popular not just with those riders directly affected - and who might have moved up a place or two, but those who think the history books should not be left effectively blank for those years. Addressing the riders the UCI statement says:
"The UCI Management Committee acknowledged that a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period – but that while this might appear harsh for those who rode clean, they would understand there was little honour to be gained in reallocating places."
That does leave open the question of what happens to the 2009 Tour de France result and whether Bradley Wiggins will be moved up from 4th place to third. Armstrong was disqualifed from the race in light of the USADA revelations and the sanctions that followed, but the UCI has not accepted that Armstrong doped during his Tour comeback race.
When it comes to the question of barring those convicted of doping from taking any further part in the sport the UCI statement is vague - perhaps necessarily so - and it provokes a number of questions:
Do they mean to bar people caught for doping after the commisison's report is implemented?
Would the bar apply to anyone convicted from 2005 onwards, or would it go back to 1999?
And what about those who have been convicted and who have turned into voiciferous anti-doping campaigners - such as David Millar - or those who were never convicted but have admitted doping and have also played a major role in trying to clean up the sport, such as Garmin Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters? Both Millar and Vaughters, it should be noted, have also been openly critical of the UCI over its handling of the doping issue.
Will the ban apply only to those convicted or will it apply to anyone who admits to having doped in the past?
The UCI and the independent commission will need to answer all those questions and they've got until June 1 next year to do so.
More to follow…
The Management Committee of the International Cycling Union (UCI), meeting in Geneva today, decided a number of critical measures in the wake of the USADA ‘Reasoned Decision’ on Lance Armstrong. The Committee acknowledged that decisive action was needed in response to the report.
With respect to Lance Armstrong and the implications of the USADA sanctions which it endorsed on Monday 22 October, the Management Committee decided not to award victories to any other rider or upgrade other placings in any of the affected events.
The Committee decided to apply this ruling from now on to any competitive sporting results disqualified due to doping for the period from 1998 to 2005, without prejudice to the statute of limitation. The Committee also called on Armstrong and all other affected riders to return the prize money they had received.
The UCI Management Committee acknowledged that a cloud of suspicion would remain hanging over this dark period – but that while this might appear harsh for those who rode clean, they would understand there was little honour to be gained in reallocating places.
Second, while the Management Committee expressed confidence that enormous strides had been made in the fight against doping since 2005, in order to ensure that UCI and cycling could move forward with the confidence of all parties, the governing body also decided to establish a fully independent external Commission to look into the various allegations made about UCI relating to the Armstrong affair.
The Committee agreed that part of the independent Commission’s remit would be to find ways to ensure that persons caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage.
In the week of 5 November 2012, therefore, the Management Committee will announce which independent sports body will nominate the members of the Commission and, with the UCI Management Committee, agree appropriate terms of reference.
Following this, individual members of the independent Commission will be appointed as soon as possible with a view to their report and recommendations being published no later than 1 June 2013.
Finally, while continuing strongly to maintain the merits of UCI’s case, the Committee decided to seek to suspend the UCI legal action against journalist Paul Kimmage, pending the findings of the independent Commission. UCI President Pat McQuaid and Honorary President Hein Verbruggen who are individual parties to the case will similarly seek to put their cases on hold.
UCI President Pat McQuaid said: “As I said on Monday, UCI is determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport. We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the independent Commission and we will put cycling back on track.
“Today, cycling is a completely different sport from what it was in the period 1998-2005. Riders are now subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport. Nevertheless, we have listened to the world’s reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and have taken these additional decisive steps in response to the grave concerns raised.”
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.