UCI ditches probe into role in Armstrong cover-up
Cycling's governing body announces a 'truth and reconciliation' process, but won't say when
LESS than a fortnight after Lance Armstrong finally admitted he had won all seven of his Tour de France titles by cheating, cycling's governing body has disbanded its investigation into the doping scandal.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced that the independent commission it set up to look at claims about its own involvement in the Armstrong affair was being closed down. It said it would be replaced with a 'truth and reconciliation committee' later this year but did not give a more precise date.
The commission was set up last November in the wake of the damning report by the US Anti-Doping Association (Usada) that eventually led to Armstrong's downfall. However, Usada and the World Anti-Doping Agency both refused to cooperate because of the UCI's refusal to grant amnesty to those giving evidence.
"UCI president Pat McQuaid's decision, which is believed to have stunned the three-person commission, now leaves the body without any formal inquiry into Usada's allegations that Armstrong made substantial six-figure donations to the UCI around the same time as the Texan's suspicious blood samples became apparent to drug testers," said the Daily Telegraph.
The news was greeted with cynicism in many quarters."The move is being 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, when he is expected to stand for another term," explained the Telegraph.
Matt Slater of the BBC said some believed that the commission, which included British Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson, had turned out to be "more independent than the UCI had bargained for", so the governing body had decided to kill it off. The decision "could not be much more embarrassing", wrote Slater. "Where this will leave the sport's already battered reputation is anybody's guess."
Usada chief Travis Tygart was dismissive of the UCI move. He told Bloomberg that the UCI wanted the world to "look the other way" as it tried to clean up the sport. "We have always fully supported a well-structured truth and reconciliation process," he said. "But it is clear that the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome in this effort."