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Sunday 15, Mar 2015

  Lance Rode Tour Down Under In A Deal With McQuaid

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Lance Rode Tour Down Under In A Deal With McQuaid

According to a 227-page dossier published recently by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, the comeback of Lance Armstrong in the 2009 Tour Down Under is an example of cycling failing to apply its own rules.

The CIRC report disclosed the former American professional road racing cyclist, who previously held seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005 before being stripped of all titles, was to be paid US 1 million dollars for racing at the 2009 Tour Down Under, with the money to go to his Livestrong charity.  The wide-ranging report said another example of UCI failing to apply its own rules was the decision to allow Lance Armstrong to compete in the Tour Down Under in 2009, despite the fact that he had not been in the UCI (anti-doping) testing pool for the prescribed period of time.

The three appearances of Armstrong at the Tour from 2009-11 represent the single biggest boost to the race since it started in 1999. However, there has always been a dark cloud of controversy whether the ex-cyclist should have been cleared to compete. Armstrong was not supposed to be eligible for a return under anti-doping rules for a return to competition until February 1 – several days after the Tour.

The report said Pat McQuaid advised his senior team on the morning of 6 October that he had decided that Lance Armstrong could ride the Tour Down Under. This was after the then president of cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, told the camp of Lance Armstrong that the cyclist cannot compete at the January Tour. The report added several interviewees spoke about an abrupt ‘change of mind’ by the UCI president that took many people at UCI by surprise and underlined the fact that the decision was unilaterally taken by the UCI president and added that no explanation as then given internally as to why Lance Armstrong was suddenly given an exemption.

The CIRC report revealed that Armstrong confirmed to McQuaid he would ride in the 2009 Tour of Ireland also on October 6. McQuaid’s brother Darach was the project manager at the time for the Tour of Ireland. It was disclosed by the report that there was a “temporal link” between Lance Armstrong being cleared to race at the Tour Down Under and his decision to race at the Tour of Ireland. The report also said Pat McQuaid was under significant political pressure mainly from Australia to permit Armstrong commence his much-publicized racing comeback at the Adelaide race.

Former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid welcomed the findings of the CIRC report and insisted that the Cycling Independent Reform Commission has cleared them of any wrongdoing connected to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. Verbruggen, president between 1991 and 2005, said the wild conspiracy theories and accusations have all been properly debunked once and for all and added he is pleased that this report confirms his complete innocence concerning these accusations which have been leveled at him in the past.

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Wednesday 11, Mar 2015

  UCI Colluded With Lance Armstrong, Says Report

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UCI Colluded With Lance Armstrong, Says Report

A 227-page report by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) was published on Monday after a year-long probe. The report criticized the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, for allowing doping and covering up Lance Armstrong, the sport’s star rider.

The report also criticized former UCI leaders Hein Verbruggen and successor Pat McQuaid for letting doping flourish and breaking rules. The present UCI President Brian Cookson said Verbruggen should give up his honorary presidency and added that cycling still has “an endemic problem of lower-level doping.”

The UCI chief remarked the advisers of Lance Armstrong were allowed to become “directly and heavily” involved in Emile Vrijman’s 2006 report. Vrijman, the Dutch lawyer, was examining accusations by L’Equipe newspaper in 2005 that Lance Armstrong took Erythropoietin (EPO) in winning the first of his seven Tour de France titles. L’Equipe linked back-tested samples from the race to the cyclist.

 

The CIRC investigation found the UCI “purposely limited the scope of the independent investigator’s mandate” against the suggestion of Vrijman. It was also revealed that the primary goal was to ensure that the report reflected UCI’s and Lance Armstrong’s personal conclusions. It was also revealed by the investigation that the UCI exempted Lance Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping, even as late as 2012. It went on to add that the world governing body of cycling saw Lance Armstrong as the perfect choice to lead the sport’s renaissance after the Festina doping scandal at the 1998 Tour de France. It was also added that the fact that he was American opened up a new continent for the sport, he had beaten cancer and the media quickly made him a global star.

The report also highlighted decision of Pat McQuaid to allow Lance Armstrong to participate in the 2009 Tour Down Under even though the former American professional road racing cyclist hadn’t been in the testing group for the required period of time. The report says there was a temporal link between this decision, which was communicated to UCI staff in the morning, and the decision of Lance Armstrong, which was notified to Pat McQuaid later that same day, to participate in the Tour of Ireland, an event run by people known to Pat McQuaid.

After the report was published, McQuaid said if he had not put a lot of his time and energy into the fight against doping, as the report recognizes, and led to significant progress maybe he would have had more time to spend more time on governance and management which the report finds criticism with. He added the area which is under investigation is only one part of an enormously challenging role as UCI president and he is proud of his achievements in developing the sport globally.

Cookson, who set up the three-man CIRC panel, said Lance Armstrong had a positive test for cortisone, which was covered up – and assisted in covering up – by the UCI in 1999 and added that it the UCI was going to prioritize the image of the sport, the business of the sport, over the integrity and honesty of the sport and that was a very bad signal.

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Wednesday 15, Jan 2014

  Armstrong Vows To Help Doping Inquiry

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Lance Armstrong has vowed to cooperate honestly and openly with an independent commission into the doping past of cycling having conceded that the life ban imposed on the disgraced cyclist might not be reduced in exchange for a full confession.

The American ex-cyclist confirmed via his Twitter account his willingness to testify before a strong panel of three members (a politician, professor, and a war crimes investigator), the composition of which was announced recently by the UCI, the sport’s world governing body. The Cycling Independent Reform Commission is chaired by Dick Marty, a Swiss member of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and former state prosecutor who is considered an expert in organized crime and drug abuse. His vice-chairmen are Ulrich Haas, a German law professor at the University of Zurich and a specialist in anti-doping, and Peter Nicholson, a former military officer who has led several war crimes investigations for the United Nations. The UCI President set a deadline of the end of 2014 for the commission to complete its work and vowed that it would be completely autonomous.

The UCI president, Brian Cookson, confirming the commission had already begun its work, said this commission will investigate the problems cycling has faced in recent years, especially the allegations that the UCI has been involved in wrongdoing in the past. Cookson added that their work will also be focused on understanding what went so wrong in our sport and they will make recommendations for change so that, as far as possible, those mistakes are not repeated. The immediate predecessors of Cookson, Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, are also expected to be approached. Both former UCI Presidents are accused of helping in covering up the doping activities of Lance Armstrong and others though both have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

In November last year, Lance Armstrong indicated that his participation in the truth & reconciliation commission will be dependent on whether he was treated like everybody else who took part, drawing particular attention to the disparity between his lifetime ban (that he termed as death penalty) and punishments for those who also doped during his seven Tour de France victories.

It later emerged that the commission would be prevented from giving Lance Armstrong any incentive like what is provided to other cyclists who spoke against hum though the commission would be empowered to offer what amount to full amnesties to those not already convicted of doping offences. It was also revealed that the commission would not be empowered to allow Armstrong to return to competing in triathlons.

Meanwhile, Johan Bruyneel, a United States Anti-Doping agency spokesperson, said that Armstrong despite publicly claiming he wants to help has repeatedly rejected the opportunity to do so and has shut the door on his chance. He added that much of the information we understand that Armstrong could have provided is of little, if any, value now, as it has already been uncovered through other avenues or soon will be. Armstrong was banned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for indulging into banned performance enhancing drugs to win his seven Tour de France titles.

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Saturday 14, Dec 2013

  Former UCI President Admits Wrongdoings

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Former UCI President Admits Wrongdoings

Hein Verbruggen, the former UCI president, has remarked that he might have spoken to former American professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong after he failed a drugs test at the 1999 Tour de France.

Armstrong recently accused Verbruggen of coming up with something and the ex-UCI head said he did advised Lance Armstrong to produce a prescription after the event, in apparent breach of anti-doping rules. Armstrong, in his first Tour post-cancer, tested positive for Cortisone after he won the prologue time trial.

Verbruggen, who served as UCI president from 1991-2005 and is still honorary president of cycling’s world governing body, had earlier attacked the credibility of Armstrong. He described the allegations made by Armstrong as illogical. This was after Lance claimed that the then-UCI president asked to come up with the prescription for avoiding another doping scandal, just a year after the Festina affair threatened to sink the 1998 Tour de France. Armstrong added that Verbruggen had remarked this is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport and so we’ve got to come up with something.

Verbruggen said he might have told Lance that the world governing body of cycling requires a prescription but he is sure that was handled by the UCI’s anti-doping department and not him. He also remarked that the prescription could be done afterwards according to UCI rules. However, the UCI rules state that the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) should be declared prior to testing and it is clear from facts that an exception was made by the UCI for Lance Armstrong, who went on to win the first of his seven Tour de France titles.

This admission by the UCI’s honorary president may find himself in huge trouble as the conversation between the head of the cycling’s governing body and Armstrong, who had tested positive, raises serious questions about the judgment of Hein Verbruggen and suggests a possible breach of anti-doping protocol. The ex-UCI president however said he is willing to participate in a new commission currently being set up by the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency and expressed confidence that he will be exonerated. It was recently indicated by UCI that Verbruggen may be called before a separate independent commission being set up to investigate Armstrong.

After Armstrong’s allegations against Verbruggen, Craig Reedie, the new president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said it is essential that Lance Armstrong should take part in the drive to clean up the sport through a truth and reconciliation process. Reedie remarked he read the interview of Armstrong with interest and it rather illustrated that the sport had a serious problem all those years ago and it has brought it to a serious head. In defense of the current UCI regime, they have been very active in trying to tackle the problems of the past. He added that Lance Armstrong is certainly seen in the public eye as the biggest sinner of that generation but if he chose to take part in a properly organized independent commission it would give them the best chance of achieving a proper result.

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Wednesday 16, Jan 2013

  Armstrong May Testify Against Cycling Officials

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Armstrong May Testify Against Cycling Officials

Considered to be the greatest cyclist the world has ever seen, Lance Armstrong, who fell from grace after a massive USADA report accusing him of using and promoting the use of performance enhancing drugs may testify against several powerful people in the sport of cycling who knew about his doping and possibly facilitated it.

It is believed that the disgraced cyclist may open his mouth against officials from the International Cycling Union, the worldwide governing body of cycling, and about their involvement with doping in cycling. Armstrong may however desist from testifying against other riders.

Armstrong was accused by USADA as the mastermind of a long-running scheme that employed anabolic steroids, blood boosters such as EPO, and a range of other performance enhancing drugs.

The Texan rider is also believed to be in discussion with the U.S. Justice Department to possibly testify in a federal whistle-blower case and the cyclist may decide to testify against some of the team owners, including investment banker Thom Weisel, and other officials. The whistle-blower case was filed in 2010 by Floyd Landis against Armstrong and other principals of the Postal Service team wherein Landis claimed that the riders used performance enhancing drugs in violation of its sponsorship contract and defrauded the government.

The recent confession and possible testimony against UCI officials is seen by many as an attempt by Lance Armstrong to rehabilitate his image and compete in triathlons and running events again. The cyclist is presently barred from many of those events because they are sanctioned by organizations that follow the World Anti-Doping Code, the rules under which he is serving his lifetime ban. Last month, Armstrong had a meeting with US Anti-Doping Agency officials, including Travis Tygart, the agency’s chief executive, to discuss how he can get his ban mitigated. Tygart may help the cyclist in getting his ban reduced if he would testify against the people who helped him dope. The list may include names like Pat McQuaid, the president of the cycling union, and Hein Verbruggen, who was the UCI President from 1991 to 2005, when doping in cycling was rampant. Verbruggen is also the cycling union’s honorary president and an honorary member of the IOC.

Anti-doping officials remarked that a televised confession from the cyclist is not enough and he needs to admit his guilt under oath before they can consider whether to lift a lifetime ban clouding his future as a competitive athlete or not. In the last few days, the cyclist has been in touch with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials to spark speculations that he may be willing to cooperate with authorities and name names. A statement was issued by WADA officials that nothing short of ”a full confession under oath” would cause them to reconsider the ban imposed on the disgraced cyclist from sanctioned events. In another development, the world governing body of cycling also urged the cyclist to reveal his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims that the UCI hid suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him, and assisted him avoid detection in doping tests.

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