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Tuesday 29, Jan 2013

  UCI Disbands Independent Doping Commission

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UCI Disbands Independent Doping Commission

The International Cycling Union, the world governing body of cycling, has dramatically disbanded its own independent commission that was appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding payments to the body made by Lance Armstrong.

The decision of UCI president Pat McQuaid that is believed to have stunned the commission of three people now leaves the world cycling body without any formal inquiry into the United States Anti Doping Agency’s allegations that disgraced cyclist Armstrong made substantial six-figure donations to the UCI around the same time as his suspicious blood samples became apparent to drug testers. The UCI however said the commission was in danger of “lacking credibility” because the World Anti-Doping Agency, USADA, and major witnesses in reform group Change Cycling Now refusing to take part unless the independent commission had wider terms of reference and a guarantee to make their findings public.

Last Friday, the tension between the UCI independent commission and the world cycling governing body was stark when it became clear that the governing body had not submitted any of the 16 folders of files to the commissioners for inspection, or acquiesced to the request of the commissioner for an amnesty period of three weeks to be part of its inquiry. The UCI independent commission adjourned the hearing until this Thursday, but the UCI president has now axed the commission.

The UCI said it had begun fruitful talks with WADA for the body to conduct a broad truth and reconciliation investigation into the sport that is seen by some as a stalling tactic by McQuaid to ensure any negative findings would only be aired after the election of the UCI president in September. A broad truth and reconciliation process is expected to last at least two years. McQuaid said it is completely unrealistic to expect that the UCI and WADA can solve through all the details of setting up a truth and reconciliation commission in just a couple of days, based on an arbitrary deadline set by the independent commission. He added that there is still a big amount to discuss before the UCI can finalize a detailed legal framework, including how such a TRC, which is completely unprecedented in the sport, should be funded now that WADA, contrary to earlier indications, refuses to contribute financially.

The UCI president further remarked that while he is committed to a TRC, there needs to be a process that is in the best interests of our sport and our federation and which also does not bankrupt it and further said that the lessons learned from the truth and reconciliation process will help in particular for educating young riders and helping eradicating doping from cycling in its entirety. When the UCI made the announcement on its website, the three independent commissioners, Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malcolm Holmes, found out their services were no longer required. The world governing body of cycling head further said the UCI Management Committee decided that the federation could no longer fund a procedure whose outcome is likely to be rejected by such an important stakeholder.

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Saturday 05, Jan 2013

  Bike Pure Partners To Set Up Ethical Cycling Program

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Bike Pure Partners To Set Up Ethical Cycling Program

The anti-doping charity set up in 2007 to combat doping in cycling, Bike Pure, is partnering with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, the women’s team whose backers include Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins for running its ethical cycling sport education program.

An independent not for profit organization registered in Australia, Bike Pure is strongly opposed to doping and promotes honest ethical cycle sport. It was conceived by its co-founders Myles McCorry and Andy Layhe out of the doping scandals that tarnished the 2008 Tour de France. More than 170 professional cyclists and teams, both professional and amateur, align with it to show their support for honest, ethical sport, represented as sincere role models for cyclists and cycling fans around the world.

According to an announcement, team owner and manager Rochelle Gilmore has set up the program that is meant specifically for educating the younger riders of the team, including Great Britain’s world and Olympic champion team pursuit trio of Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott, about “the dangers of doping, risk of contamination and the importance of honest and fair sport.”

The central message of the program is to emphasize that it is very much possible to succeed in sport without resorting to performance enhancing drugs.

Gilmore, winner of the Commonwealth Games road race in Delhi two years ago, who will combine her role as manager with riding for Wiggle Honda, said I have a young team with the average age being 23 so I feel it is critical to educate the athletes about the risk of contamination, innocent thoughtless mistakes, and the temptation or influences to dope. Bike Pure, as part of its partnership with Wiggle Honda, will be conducting seminars with the riders of the team to educate them about its principles of honesty and integrity and, above all, how to avoid accidental positive test results.

Bike Pure is delighted to announce a partnership with the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team, commented Andy Layhe, who co-founded Bike Pure in Ireland with Myles McCorry and now helps run the organization from Sydney, Australia. Layhe added that it is an important time for the development of women’s cycling and Rochelle Gilmore has worked tirelessly to produce a dominant team that will be big players on the 2013 road scene.

Layhe, who represented Bike Pure at the two-day Change Cycling Now summit in London at the start of December, further added that we are strong advocates of women’s cycling and the desire of Rochelle for all her riders to adhere to Bike Pure’s principles reflects her own passion for fair, honest sport. It was further remarked that it is important that all riders are given the opportunity to perform in a positive environment and our partnership reflects this.

Gilmore explained that women are at high risk of returning a positive test due to accidently consuming a banned substance though systematic doping is not present in women’s cycling and female cyclists re not educated or experienced enough to know when they might be consuming a banned medication. Gilmore went on to add that doping is not constantly on the mind of female cyclists and education is our motivation to partner with Bike Pure.

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Saturday 29, Dec 2012

  Riders Hold Key To Doping Reform Adoption

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Riders Hold Key To Doping Reform Adoption

The founder of the Change Cycling Now group has remarked that the response from top riders to a radical proposal aimed at eliminating blood doping among the grand tour challengers should be known by the end of next month.

Jaimie Fuller who created the new lobby group behind the reform said he is optimistic that the proposal drafted by blood-doping expert Dr Michael Ashenden will be well received.

The blood-doping expert didn’t elaborate on the proposal details that was submitted to Gianni Bugno, the Italian president of the Association of Professional Cyclists, but said it would ”guarantee” that the winners of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a Espana were not able to undergo blood transfusions.

An Australian who also sat on the recent CCN conference in London, Ashenden, cited the requirement for the best grand tour riders of the world to evaluate the proposal first and then offer their feedback to himself, Bungo, and the Change Cycling Now group. Ashenden said the group requires assistance from the riders to put into place a system for next year that will ensure that the winner of a grand tour has not blood-doped. The doping expert further remarked that this short-term and intensive approach will restore public confidence in the race outcomes and the riders and the approach is for the riders, but it is very much by the riders.

Chief executive of compression garment firm SKINS that sponsors a number of cycling teams and other sports, Fuller, is suing the world governing body of cycling for damages to the reputation of his company from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and cited the mismanagement of the UCI in the aftermath of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s guilty verdict for the retired 41-year-old American rider Lance Armstrong, who has been stripped of all his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life for doping.

The UCI has dismissed the legitimacy of CNN but many in the cycling world are listening to the message of the newly formed group, especially in light of USADA and World Anti-Doping Agency concerns over an independent commission of inquiry into the handling of doping issues by the UCI.

Meanwhile, Fuller is confident that the Tour, Giro, and Vuelta organizers will support any proposal that enables them to put their hands on their hearts and say we have a clean winner. He added that it is awful to win and stand on the dais and knowing that everything whispering that he must have doped and went on to say that Bradley Wiggins as been copping this since he has won and this is inexcusable. Fuller also said Wiggins and Cadel Evans, who in 2011 became the first Australian to win the Tour and was seventh this year, should speak out more openly against doping. Public discussion over the doping issue must continue, especially should an official truth and reconciliation commission into it be held, said Fuller who also remarked that things can change quickly and for the better as it is about a change of mindset, not just about policing the problem.

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Saturday 15, Dec 2012

  Change Cycling Now Approached By UCI Commission

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Change Cycling Now Approached By UCI Commission

The UCI’s independent commission set up for investigating its action during the Lance Armstrong era have approached the pressure group Change Cycling Now to assist them in the inquiry.

The members of the group will likely have considerable information they can share with Change Cycling Now including anti-doping scientists Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto, triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, former Armstrong teammate Jonathan Vaughters and Armstrong critics Paul Kimmage and David Walsh. In addition to these names, the group also includes Eric Boyer who recently revealed that he had been threatened with legal action by UCI president Pat McQuaid after he raised concerns about the return of Lance Armstrong to racing. Boyer remarked that he still has the letter in question and, presumably, will consider handing it over.

Change Cycling Now organizer Jaimie Fuller said we were approached immediately after the press conference in London and he met with legal representatives of the commission. Fuller added that will be discussing the approach with the other members of the Change Cycling Now panel and we will consider the appropriate action. Meanwhile, the independent commission chairman Sir Phillip Otton has sought to reassure about its stance in relation to the governing body of cycling and remarked that the commission has been appointed independently of the UCI and has itself fixed the terms of reference and the procedure which we will follow in gathering evidence.

The Commission recently asked all who feel they have information or evidence pertinent to allegations that the governing body of cycling received illegal payments from Lance Armstrong or were in collusion with him has been invited to either post a summary of their evidence to a London postal address or to make contact via a dedicated email address before Dec 31, 2012. The independent commission will thereafter evaluate those submissions before deciding whether to pursue them further and whether to invite the witness concerned to give evidence at their formal hearing between April 9-26, 2013.

The UCI has recently written to key stakeholders within the sport calling for their input on how to build a bright future for cycling and tackle issues of concern in the sport. The cycling’s governing body in a press release said that letters have been sent to riders, teams, race organizers, national federations, administrators, sponsors, industry representatives, anti-doping organizations and sports bodies, asking for their comments on four main pillars of discussion: globalization, anti-doping, riders, and sports calendar. The stakeholders had just six days to submit their ideas, with the cycling body setting a deadline of 10 December to reply. UCI president Pat McQuaid said remarked that we will work together to tackle issues of concern and build a bright future for cycling and we will look at how we can continue the process of globalizing cycling, encourage wider participation and make the sport even more interesting for spectators. The only drawback of this call was that there was no way for fans of the sport to participate or be represented in the consultation process.

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Thursday 06, Dec 2012

  Riders Urged To Lift Doping Taint

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Riders Urged To Lift Doping Taint

A lobby group has invited riders to back a plan it says may remove doping suspicions undermining the sport after the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The group campaigning to clean up cycling says the short-term intensive approach will restore public confidence in the riders and the race outcome.

Doctor Michael Ashenden, a leading anti-doping campaigner, in a news conference organized by “Change Cycling Now” remarked the assistance sought from the riders is to place a system that will guarantee that the winner of the major tours has not blood doped. The anti-doping campaigner gave no further details of his proposal but said he had briefed Gianni Bugno, president of the riders association, with a hope for its swift implementation for next season.

Cycling’s image has been hugely shaken ever since seven-time Tour de France winner and 41-year-old Texan rider, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of his titles and banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of being at the center of an organized doping conspiracy.

“Change Cycling Now” has called for UCI president Pat McQuaid to quit as head of the governing body of cycling by accusing him of failing to root out doping. Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid has vowed to continue to improve the sport, despite continued calls for his resignation.

McQuaid said we will work together to tackle issues of concern and build a bright future for cycling and look at how we can continue the process of globalizing cycling, encourage wider participation and make the sport even more interesting for spectators.

American Greg LeMond, who won the Tour in 1986, 1989, and 1990, said he was ready to serve as an interim head of the UCI. LeMond told the news conference he is ready to do whatever he can to help change the sport and remarked that if that means an interim presidency, he would be willing to do that and to be part of the process to change (the sport).

“Change Cycling Now”, comprising former riders, journalists and anti-doping campaigners, has been put together by Jaimie Fuller, an Australian who is chairman of the SKINS sportswear company, a cycling sponsor. More than 10 current cyclists were approached about the campaign but they were afraid to speak out, said Fuller who added that the vast majority were intimidated about what could happen to them if they stuck their head above the parapet and were critical of the vast majority were intimidated about what could happen to them if they stuck their head above the parapet and were critical of the cycling’s governing body.

LeMond said he had also been the victim of intimidation and said he dealt with the amount of money that he had to destroy people and added Armstrong had done a lot of damage to cycling and it was a false bull market for cycling. Recently, Dutch Rabobank pulled out of sponsoring a professional cycling team in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and there are fears other companies may join soon.

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