When the UCI disbanded the Independent Commission chartered to look into the agency’s handling of the Lance Armstrong affair, I more than suspected that they were not being completely upfront about progress towards a unified “Truth and Reconciliation” process for the sport.
Today, WADA President John Fahey confirmed my feelings by issuing a press release expressing their dismay at the UCI’s actions. In the press release, WADA rejects most of the points that the UCI cited for dismissal of the commission. Most tellingly, WADA claims that they were not consulted on the decision to form the panel, but they go on to say that while they have expressed interest in a Truth and Reconciliation process, in no way had they entered into an agreement with the UCI to start that process.
To close, WADA expressed their support to the members of the Independent Commission.
The complete press release is as follows:
The Independent Commission established by UCI was intended to review the allegations of complicity of UCI in the Lance Armstrong doping conspiracy as raised by USADA in its thorough decision. Instead UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility to the sport of cycling in completing such an inquiry and has determined to apparently deflect responsibility for the doping problem in its sport to others.
It has decided to terminate its own Commission on the grounds that others refuse to participate, and not for any reason that the Commission was precluded from operating transparently and without fear.
WADA was not part of the decision to establish such a Commission, it was not even consulted. When asked to participate, WADA was at pains to point out the inadequacies of the terms of reference and the timelines. The Commission’s lawyers agreed to point those out in order to remedy them. These were not addressed by UCI or the Commission so WADA declined to participate.
The matters raised by WADA were:
- The Armstrong CASe was decided and could not be re-litigated
- The timelines for the evidence were not realistic
- The process for hearing witnesses and receiving evidence had to be such that no witness feared retribution
- The findings of the Commission were to be made public immediately and not subject to any prior scrutiny and editing by UCI
- These were all rejected by UCI without discussion.
They were raised again by WADA’s President on Saturday (Jan. 26), and referred to in subsequent correspondence, but seemingly rejected without any reply in the expected fashion. The suggestion was raised by WADA that UCI puts a proposal to address these concerns.
However, instead of any continuing professional dialogue with WADA’s President, UCI has publicly announced by way of a press statement that WADA has agreed to work with it on some form of truth and reconciliation. This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful. The fact is that WADA was awaiting a reply to the correspondence when the UCI release was delivered.
WADA has not and will not consider partaking in any venture with UCI while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues. There has been no suggestion made by WADA that it will pay for or contribute to any collaborative effort with UCI into investigating UCI’s long-standing problems with doping in its sport and its alleged complicity.
Presuming the Independent Commission will reconvene on Thursday, as arranged, WADA intends to seek an appearance and table correspondence corroborating the facts stated here.
Finally, WADA wants to clarify that contrary to what is stated in the UCI press release WADA has never questioned the integrity and independence of the members of the Commission, but solely the ability of the Commission to work properly under the contract given by UCI to the Commission.