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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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Friday 27, Feb 2015

  Cookson Promises Transparency Over Doping Report

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UCI President Brian Cookson has promised that the Cycling Independent Reform Commission will be transparent with its report on doping within the sport.

Speaking at the world tracking cycling championships in Paris, Cookson remarked he thinks there will be many uncomfortable readings in the report and we all should be ready for them. The Briton remarked the UCI will not engage itself in FIFA-style wrangling over publication of the CIRC report into allegations that the UCI was a party to wrongdoings. In the past, Lance Armstrong has accused the UCI and its earlier presidents, Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, of covering up positive doping tests.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced on January 8th 2014 about the creation of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC). The independent body is expected to put its findings about doping practices within the sport to ensure that the sport is operated smoothly and without any allegations.

The independent commission was established after Lance Armstrong, one of the most decorated cyclists of all time, was banned for life and stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles that he won from 1998 to 2005. The USADA report was based on testimonies from many former teammates of Armstrong, including George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton. It concluded that the cyclist engaged in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” The former American professional road racing cyclist later admitted in January 2013 that he made use of banned drugs and methods like Testosterone, EPO, blood transfusions, and cortisone to stay ahead of peers.

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission was trusted with the task of investigating whether the world governing body of cycling was complicit in wrongdoing. The CIRC is expected to report its findings to the cycling’s governing body by end of this month and the UCI will then publish the document in full, according to Brian Cookson.

In May last year, Lance Armstrong met with the CIRC in a meeting that lasted for seven hours. It is believed that Armstrong has been critical of the first 18 months of presidency of Cookson, who took over reins of the cycling’s body from Pat McQuaid in September 2013. Brian Cookson remarked that he is not worried about what Armstrong might or might not say about him as he is entitled to his opinion. The UCI chief added Armstrong always has an agenda.

Armstrong’s attorney Elliot Peters revealed that the meeting between his client and the CIRC was a very good meeting. Peters also revealed at that time that if you made a list of all the questions people would want to ask about Lance and his activities in cycling and everything else, those were the questions that were asked and answered. Peters also remarked that the life ban imposed on Lance Armstrong is unfairly harsh and should be reduced. The attorney also said his client is talking in the spirit of not trying to benefit by getting somebody else in trouble, but in the spirit of let us tell the truth.

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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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Friday 08, Nov 2013

  Cookson Vows To Offer Doping Amnesty To Cyclists

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Cookson vows to offer doping amnesty to cyclists

Brian Cookson, the International Cycling Union (UCI) presidential hopeful who is challenging incumbent chief Pat McQuaid, has vowed to offer an amnesty to cyclist if they decided to come clean about doping.

There has been growing calls in the cycling circles for a truth and reconciliation commission that could provide an opportunity to riders who want to reveal everything about their use of banned performance enhancing drugs. Cookson remarked we need to define exactly what we mean by truth and reconciliation and certainly as part of that we need to have more of an incentive for people to come forward and tell the truth, so he guess there will have to be some sort of amnesty or reduction in sanction.

He went on to remark that let us not forget that doping in sports is actually against the law and illegal in some countries now, so we need to be clear about what level of amnesty and what level of offers we can make to people before we encourage them to tell the truth. Cookson said he saw Lance Armstrong admitting to use of banned drugs on the Oprah Winfrey show and it’s clear he was telling some of the truth, and he would like to encourage him now to tell all of the truth. The UCI President hopeful added that he is sure we all know he was not the only rider who was guilty of doing what he did, but certainly he’s the only one who won seven Tour de France so he bears heavy responsibilities for some of the activities in that era. Cookson also remarked that what he wants to make sure we do is treat everybody on an equitable basis to make sure people are treated fairly, but he wants to get more of the truth out and he wants to get it out once and for all so that we don’t have this continual drip, drip, drip of information and confessions, forced or otherwise, as we’ve seen through the course of this year.

In the last few months, McQuaid has come under severe criticism on his handling of the Lance Armstrong doping affair and allegations that he and the world governing body of cycling’s previous chief, Hein Verbruggen, accepted bribes and covered up failed dope tests, by former Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. McQuaid has however vehemently denied the allegations and said they are complete fabrications and the UCI chief accused his rival of indulging in “gangster politics”.

Cookson also said that the no one will be above the law if allegations are found true while referring to claims made by Floyd Landis that Verbruggen colluded with Armstrong to cover up failed dope tests. Cookson warned let us be clear, if people have misbehaved or done things they shouldn’t have done, [such as] anything illegal or ‘collusional’, then there is no hiding place. He also said it’s absolutely right that public authorities, the police or judicial authorities should treat all those things in the appropriate way and said he hopes that’s not the case, he likes to think there hasn’t been anything like that, but clearly we need to investigate that.

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Tuesday 16, Jul 2013

  McQuaid Pledges To Continue Anti-Doping Fight

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McQuaid Pledges To Continue Anti-Doping Fight

UCI president Pat McQuaid has pledged to continue the fight against doping if he is elected again as president of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

McQuaid said he has introduced the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport to cycling and it is now possible to race and win clean. The UCI president is facing stiff competition from British Cycling Brian Cookson, who is a member of the UCI management committee, for the presidential post.

Cookson, the current president of the British Cycling, pledged to establish an independent body to manage anti-doping if he is elected president of the International Cycling Union (UCI). His candidacy is based on restoring credibility in the UCI after the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The 62-year-old Cookson remarked the reality is that the UCI is not trusted, our anti-doping is not seen to be independent and we don’t have the trust of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and the other key anti-doping agencies. He went on to remark that the anti-doping service within the UCI headquarters at the moment is just down the corridor of the president’s office so that can’t be right. He also added that he would quickly establish a completely independent anti-doping unit, in co-operation with WADA if elected president and it will be managed and governed outside of the UCI so people can have absolute confidence in our sport.

In his manifesto for running for the UCI presidency, McQuaid pledged to make the UCI’s Cycling Anti Doping Foundation more independent and help fund it by increasing the UCI World Tour teams’ contributions to anti-doping and modernize how cycling is presented as a global sport. He also pledged to  establish an independent audit of the UCI’s actions when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France, from 1999 to 2005 and set up an independent UCI Women’s Commission with responsibility for developing all disciplines of women’s cycling. McQuaid added that his mission now is to preserve the changed culture within the peloton and team entourage and foster the global development of cycling.

McQuaid also remarked that the governing body of cycling now invests over USD 7.5million (£5m) every year to keep the sport clean and to catch and prosecute those riders who refuse to embrace the new culture of clean cycling. The UCI president also added that the misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of cycling or today’s riders. He added that Lance Armstrong and issues related to him should not affect the September vote and added this election should be about cycling today and cycling tomorrow. Cycling officials worldwide were not as concerned with the Armstrong case, McQuaid suggested. The chief of cycling’s governing body also remarked they see it as a scandal that has happened in the past. He also revealed that they are more interested in how they see the UCI developing the sport and that is the basis he is standing on and there is work still to continue.

McQuaid is seeking a third four-year term in office at the UCI’s election congress on September 27.

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Sunday 16, Jun 2013

  UCI-Lance ‘Collusion’ To Be Studied By Panel

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UCI-Lance ‘Collusion’ To Be Studied By Panel

UCI President Pat McQuaid has announced that an independent panel will be examining allegations that the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, was complicit in Lance Armstrong‘s doping.

Senior officials from UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency will meet in Russia to discuss potential appointments to an expert panel of three members, according to McQuaid, who added that long-standing claims about the UCI and relationship with Lance Armstrong will be absolutely addressed by the commission. The collusion allegations include suspicious test results at the 1999 Tour de France and 2001 Tour of Switzerland, plus cash donations to UCI totaling $125,000 from the disgraced seven-time Tour de France winner.

In an interview, McQuaid said he would be very sure that the audit will show that there’s nothing untoward ever been done with Armstrong. Meanwhile, six critically important points were reported in a report by consultants Deloitte that was commissioned by the UCI to consult cycling stakeholders and fans after the Armstrong scandal. After processing 6,369 survey responses and conducting a series of working groups, Deloitte said the world governing body of cycling should act quickly and clearly in deciding how to investigate historic doping cases that could involve offering amnesty to riders and officials. Deloitte said in a report summary published by the UCI that any ultimate decision should be made only after consultation with WADA and USADA; the 12-page document didn’t mention the name of Lance Armstrong.

The UCI appears to be rebuilding relations with the United States Anti-Doping Authority and McQuaid, who met USADA chief executive Travis Tygart recently in Brussels, said the UCI and WADA-accredited labs were searching their archives for information about laboratory results of urine and blood samples given by Armstrong during his career.

The UCI and USADA have met on a regular basis since committing in January to an independent audit of the UCI’s anti-doping program and decision-making during the period of Lance’s career, McQuaid said. A previously-appointed commission that was investigating if the leaders of UCI protected Armstrong from scrutiny during his 1999-2005 run of Tour de France wins was closed by the UCI president in January this year and the latest, independent panel that is expected to take shape in St. Petersburg, on the sidelines of an Olympic gathering attended by UCI director general Christophe Hubschmid and WADA counterpart David Howman, is likely to include two officials experienced in anti-doping science and sports law.

McQuaid said the UCI will maintain that any decisions we took at the time were taken within the rules at the time, with all the knowledge we had at the time and experts in this field who therefore know what they are looking for, and what they are looking at and understand all the files they will be reading. After a scheduled June 12-13 meeting of the UCI’s management board in Bergen, Norway, their audit report is expected within several months and McQuaid said we will discuss what further measures we need to take in relation to looking at the past and dealing with the past.

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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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