World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey has branded the UCI as “arrogant” and “deceitful” in a strongly worded statement issued this afternoon in response to world cycling’s governing body’s announcement yesterday that it has scrapped the Independent Commission it had ordered to examine its own role in the Lance Armstrong scandal.
The UCI’s statement had criticised WADA for undermining the Independent Commission’s work, but it said it would now work with the agency to put a Truth & Reconciliation Commission in place. In light of WADA’s statement, that now appears to be the remotest of possibilities.
In a hard-hitting statement published on its website, Fahey says the “UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility to the sport of cycling in completing such an inquiry and has determined to apparently deflect responsibility for the doping problem in its sport to others.”
Taking issue with the UCI’s stated reasons for pulling the plug on the Independent Commission – chief among which were what it alleged was the non co-operation of WADA and the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) – Fahey says: “It [the UCI] has decided to terminate its own Commission on the grounds that others refuse to participate, and not for any reason that the Commission was precluded from operating transparently and without fear.”
He also points out that WADA was not even consulted on the setting up of the Independent Commission, and says that the UCI failed to address the concerns it had raised in relation to its terms of reference.
Yesterday’s announcement by the UCI that it was disbanding the Independent Commission highlighted its claim that it would now be working with WADA to establish a Truth & Reconciliation Commission, one that has been rejected by the agency with a mixture of anger and astonishment.
In that statement, UCI president Pat McQuaid said: "UCI President Pat McQuaid said: “As I said last Friday, 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.
“Over the weekend I spoke to John Fahey, President of WADA. He confirmed WADA’s willingness to help the UCI establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as well as saying that WADA had no confidence in the existing Independent Commission process.”
But today, Fahey denies that any such agreement had been reached, saying: “Instead of any continuing professional dialogue with WADA’s President, UCI has publicly announced by way of a press statement that WADA has agreed to work with it on some form of truth and reconciliation.
“This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful. The fact is that WADA was awaiting a reply to the correspondence when the UCI release was delivered.”
It seems clear that at least while Pat McQuaid remains president of the UCI there is little chance of a rapprochement between the two organisations, whose thinly veiled distrust of each other has now erupted into open warfare, with Fahey asserting that WADA “has not and will not consider partaking in any venture with UCI while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues.
“There has been no suggestion made by WADA that it will pay for or contribute to any collaborative effort with UCI into investigating UCI’s long-standing problems with doping in its sport and its alleged complicity,” it adds.
Fahey says in his statement that “presuming the Independent Commission will reconvene on Thursday, as arranged, WADA intends to seek an appearance and table correspondence corroborating the facts stated here,” but that has already been overtaken by events, with the Independent Commission confirming earlier today that meeting would not take place.
In conclusion, Fahey says that he “wants to clarify that contrary to what is stated in the UCI press release WADA has never questioned the integrity and independence of the members of the Commission, but solely the ability of the Commission to work properly under the contract given by UCI to the Commission.”
One question many will be asking is how the future of a sport reeling from the continued fallout from the Armstrong affair can be safeguarded when there appears to be so little common ground between two bodies that in theory should be working together to ensure the lessons of the past are learnt and systems put in place to prevent any repetition going forward.
Another is how the UCI and Pat McQuaid can have so spectacularly misjudged WADA’s stance when the governing body sent out its press release announcing the decision to disband the Independent Commission and work with WADA on a Truth & Reconciliation Commision was sent out last night.
The absence of a joint release from WADA and the UCI on that subject should have set the alarm bells ringing; they’re certainly chiming loud and clear now.
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.