USADA critical of UCI chiefs

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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The United States Anti-Doping Agency has strongly criticised former UCI chiefs Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid after they were accused of showing preferential treatment to disgraced drug cheat Lance Armstrong.

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) has released its long-awaited report into the world governing body’s dealings with doping findings and allegations during the late 1990s and early 2000s. This included the UCI’s handling of claims against Armstrong, who was found guilty of systematic doping throughout the first part of his career and subsequently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

USADA was especially dismayed by the allegation in the 227-page report that investigations into Armstrong’s doping by the UCI were allowed to be influenced by individuals close to the American.

“A stunning example of deceit found by the CIRC is that the UCI, under the explicit direction of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, commissioned a supposedly ‘independent’ investigation of Armstrong’s positive samples from the Tour de France,” USADA chief executive officer Travis Tygart said in a statement.

“According to the CIRC, the UCI then conspired to allow what was sold to the public as an ‘independent’ report to be rewritten by Armstrong’s own lawyer and sports agent in order to conceal Armstrong’s doping.

“USADA will work with the current UCI leadership to obtain the evidence of this sordid incident to ensure that all anti-doping rule violations related to this conduct are fully investigated and prosecuted, where possible.

“The CIRC has also confirmed that during USADA’s case against Armstrong in 2012, and under the direction of former UCI president Pat McQuaid, the UCI intentionally adopted an inaccurate position on its own anti-doping rules in order to try to derail USADA’s case against Armstrong and his co-conspirators.”

Tygart also spoke of the “tragic loss” for clean riders who were competing throughout the era when doping was widespread.

“We welcome the report of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission initiated by new UCI president Brian Cookson to address revelations of widespread doping and allegations of UCI’s complicity in allowing this fraudulent culture to persist,” the statement added.

“The report confirms that, for more than a decade, UCI leaders treated riders and teams unequally – allowing some to be above the rules. The UCI’s favouritism and intentional failure to enforce the anti-doping rules offends the principles of fair play and is contrary to the values on which true sport is based.

“Sadly, the report confirms that greed, power, and profit – not truth – motivated UCI leaders and allowed the “EPO” and “blood doping” era to ride rampant. This is a tragic loss for all cyclists who sought to compete clean during that era, and their loss can never be forgotten.”

The report was not as strongly praised by former British road and time-trial champion David Millar who was handed a two-year ban for doping in 2004.

The CIRC, which interviewed 174 people over the course of its 13-month inquiry, concluded that cycling continues to suffer from a culture of doping and Millar, who was invited to be interviewed, believes that is unfair on current competitors.

“I am disappointed by how the report addresses the state of doping in cycling today,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“It goes as far as quoting a ‘respected cycling professional’ saying, ‘that even today, 90 per cent of the peloton was doping’. This falls firmly into the arena of ‘public shaming’ that the report is vehement about removing from the sport.”

He added: ” I have worked closely with national governing bodies, national anti-doping agencies, WADA, race organisers, the media, and have even been a team owner as well as a professional cyclist during the majority of the period the CIRC’s mandate was focused on.

“And yet I find much of the report to bear little resemblance to the state and mood of the modern peloton. It feels almost tabloidesque in its description of the state of doping today.”

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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