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Saturday 08, Feb 2014

  Ban On Lance Armstrong May Be Reduced

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Ban on lance armstrong may be reduced

Brian Cookson, the Union Cycliste Internationale president, has remarked that the lifetime ban for doping imposed on Lance Armstrong may be reduced if the disgraced cyclist offers information that is useful in doping investigations.

In September, Cookson became the president of the world governing body of cycling (UCI) and he then established the Cycling Independent Reform Commission to examine the history of doping in professional cycling. The UCI President remarked that the terms of reference of the commission might include an agreement with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to reduce sanctions on cyclists who come forward clean to cooperate with the inquiry. Cookson remarked there will be the possibility of a reduction in the case of Lance Armstrong if the cyclist offers information to assist any investigation but also remarked the world governing body of cycling does not have the power to make such a deal as Lance was sanctioned by USADA. Cookson said USADA has to agree to any reduction in his sanction based on the validity and strength of the information that he provided.

The Union Cycliste Internationale president added that he will not call Armstrong, who was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Cookson added he would encourage everyone to tell all of the truth and added it will be better and less painful for everyone if people tell the truth and all the truth.

In another development, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s Travis Tygart kicked off the Triathlon Business International conference and said the Lance Armstrong doping scandal highlighted the win-at-all-costs culture that exists in almost every aspect of society. Tygart said it is this culture that not only permeates sports but that every other institution in this country and around the world is facing. He added cycling is not alone and doping exists in everything from inline roller skating to youth soccer, and at all age and sport levels. Tygart encouraged leaders in the sports world and race organizers to speak up and remarked the worst anyone can do is sit on information and not do anything.

Tygart added that the United States Anti-Doping Agency works to protect those who offer reliable information. He said the decision to move forward against a global icon and team that won seven Tours is a difficult decision and it would have been far easier if his duty to the sport is to raise revenues and have world titles remain intact but if that’s his duty as a sports leader, his duty to police himself is impossible. Tygart added that USADA became conscious of the depth and breadth of the doping culture in professional cycling after meetings with individuals to gather information in the Lance Armstrong doping case. He said the agency took quick action as it had evidence that athletes set to be on the U.S. Olympic cycling team were doping and remarked it would have been a shame if those athletes had gone to London and their doping came out and that would have tainted the entire U.S. Olympic team. The USADA CEO said that was one set of urgent facts and our other goal was to dismantle the system and we’re still heavily pursuing that goal.

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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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