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Independent Commission's parting shot: Truth must come out, and can UCI work with WADA?

Panel set up to investigate UCI's role in Armstrong affair reacts to yesterday's announcement it is being disbanded...

The Independent Commission set up by the UCI to examine its role in the Lance Armstrong scandal has greeted yesterday evening’s announcement that it is being disbanded by expressing the hope that the Truth & Reconciliation Commission the governing body plans to install will address those same issues. It has also queried whether the UCI has pulled the plug on its work too early, and expressed concerns over the governing body’s ability to work alongside the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

Reading between the lines, the Independent Commission’s parting shot reflects its acknowledgment that it has been caught in the crossfire in the war of words between the UCI and WADA over how to move the sport on from the damage done by the Armstrong affair.

Having proved itself perhaps too independent for the UCI’s liking, it also highlights the lack of co-operation it received from the UCI and others in beginning its work.

It also underlines its belief that questions arising from the UCI’s role in the Armstrong scandal, details of which were outlined in the Reasoned Decision published by the United States Anti Doping Agency in October, will need to be answered if the damage done to the sport is to be repaired.

In its statement released this afternoon, the Independent Commission, which had been due to meet again on Thursday, said:

The Independent Commission notes the UCI’s unilateral decision to disband the Commission with effect from 28 January 2013.

If the legacy of this Commission is the establishment of an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that includes, as part of its mandate, a thorough and expeditious investigation of the UCI’s role in the Lance Armstrong/USPS doping affair, then that is to be welcomed. Any TRC will represent a chance once and for all to break the code of silence that has allowed the use of performance enhancing drugs to be hidden and perpetuated.

However, the Commission remains concerned as to WADA’s and the UCI’s ability to agree the scope, timing and structure of the TRC and also whether the T&R process is sufficiently advanced to justify the UCI’s termination of this Inquiry.

When this Commission was announced, [UCI president] Pat McQuaid stated that the UCI “will co-operate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their inquiry” and urged “all other interested stakeholders to do the same”. Neither the UCI nor interested stakeholders have provided sufficient co-operation to enable the Commission to do its job. This failure to cooperate makes our task impossible. Therefore, the proposed hearing on 31 January 2013 will not take place.

The evidence which has been gathered by the Commission will be retained by Macfarlanes [the London law firm at whose offices the Independent Commission is based] for use by the TRC once established.

As the Commission has repeatedly stated, there is an immense public interest in determining why and how Lance Armstrong/USPS Team were able to engage, as recently publicly admitted, in systematic doping without detection or sanction.

The Commission urges all those who have an interest in cycling to make sure that an independent TRC is established and remains willing to offer assistance in the process if required.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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