January 15, 2013 – Cycling might not be part of the next Olympics if the UCI covered up evidence of widespread doping suggests International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound in an interview with Reuters. It’s widely speculated that allegations of such cover-ups – including the naming of officials – will be heard in the Lance Armstrong interviews to be aired on the Oprah Winfrey show Thursday and Friday (Jan. 17-18) of this week.
Pound, a Canadian who is also the past president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), did not mince his words concerning the UCI. He claims that the IOC might have little choice but to kick the UCI out of the Olympics for “four or eight years to sort the doping problem out.” Pound noted that some press reports suggest Armstrong had help from “high cycling officials” and is willing to tell viewers about it. Pound also alleges that “the UCI is not known for its strong actions” to fight doping.
Meanwhile, WADA announced today that it will not participate with the UCI’s much-heralded Independent Commission to look at doping problems.
“Following communication with lawyers representing the Independent Commission set up to look into doping issues that have plagued the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the sport of cycling, WADA has informed the UCI that it has decided not to partake in the inquiry,” reads part of a statement on the WADA website.
“Over the course of several communications, WADA has shared a number of serious concerns as to the Commission’s terms of reference and its ability to carry out its role without undue influence. In particular, WADA is concerned that the scope of the inquiry is too focused on sanctioned former cyclist Lance Armstrong – especially as his case is closed and completed with there being no appeal – and will therefore not fully address such a widespread and ingrained problem.”
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which has been very critical of the UCI for accepting “donations” from Lance Armstrong, issued a similar statement that it will not participate with the Independent Commission.
“UCI’s refusal to agree to allow a limited opportunity for riders to come forward and be truthful without fear of retribution or retaliation from the UCI obviously calls into question the UCI’s commitment to a full and thorough investigation and creates grave concern that the UCI has blindfolded and handcuffed this Independent Commission to ensure a pre-determined outcome,” reads part of the USADA statement. “The current terms of reference are not good for clean athletes or moving this sport forward to a better future.”
These are major rebukes from WADA and USADA, indicating that major anti-doping agencies do not have faith in the UCI’s main effort to date to clean up the sport.
Pedal readers will remember how five prestigious European daily newspapers – including l’Equipe – wrote a common editorial in late October that called for a major housecleaning at the UCI, but that has not happened. Former president Hein Verbruggen – still a power behind the scenes – and current president Pat McQuaid are the two officials most frequently named to resign.
“These recent revelations clearly show that we can no longer be confident of the UCI or of the team managers who have been complicit with the trickeries. But the blame lies on all the families which make up cycling,” wrote the l’Equipe. “We believe in a new generation of cyclists, but we think it is impossible to start again with the same structures, the same functioning, the same rules and the same men.”
In other developments, Armstrong offered $5 million of restitution to the U.S. government settle a fraudulent claims (whistle-blower) case reports CBS citing anonymous sources. And the government has rejected this offer. This was to have compensated the federal government for fraud Armstrong allegedly committed against the U.S. Postal Service.
This same CBS article quotes archived interviews with former Armstrong team mate Tyler Hamilton where Armstrong is called the UCI’s “golden boy” and a “ticket to a lot of money.” Hamilton claims that the UCI made favours to Armstrong and his team to cover-up evidence of doping.
Reuters article HERE.
WADA statement HERE.
USADA statement HERE.
Common editorial by 5 daily newspapers HERE.
CBS article HERE.