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Australia review urges drug test expansion

SYDNEY (AFP) — An independent review of cycling in Australia on Monday recommended that officials extend drug testing and establish an ethics panel in the wake of the doping scandal surrounding U.S. rider Lance Armstrong.

The government ordered the report in November after Armstrong was accused of being part of the most sophisticated doping program in the sport’s history and two senior Australian cycling figures made admissions related to doping.

“People want to see cycling in Australia cleaned up, they want their confidence restored,” sport minister Kate Lundy told reporters as she released the report, which contains 16 wide-ranging recommendations.

It calls for extending drug testing, on a random and targeted basis, to events at state or territory, club and masters level that are currently subject to either limited or no testing.

It also urges Cycling Australia to take “a more proactive role” in gathering intelligence to assist Australia’s sports anti-doping agency ASADA and in establishing collaborative ties with like-minded cycling bodies overseas.

“In order to safeguard the future of cycling, its administration and integrity, changes are needed that will impact on aspects of Cycling Australia’s governance, administrative structures and policy positions on several issues,” the report reads.

The review looked particularly at the fact that former athletes had been appointed to roles in the sport, without consideration of whether or not they had been involved in doping activity in the past.

As a result, it recommends the introduction of a policy similar to that announced by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) under which coaches, athletes and some other staff must declare any past involvement in doping.

Lundy said the government will formally respond to the report in coming weeks but noted it contained “constructive recommendations that will further strengthen the sport of cycling”.

AOC president John Coates welcomed the review, in particular the call to strengthen ASADA’s powers to compel witnesses to attend interviews and provide documents in regard to doping.

“The AOC supports the recommendations, especially the zero-tolerance approach to doping and more anti-doping education not just in cycling but all sports,” he said in a statement.

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