New WADA chief Craig Reedie supports UCI investigation
MOGAN, Spain (VN) — New WADA chief Craig Reedie applauded efforts by the UCI to conduct an independent inquiry into cycling’s dirty laundry.
Reedie, who became the World Anti-Doping Agency’s third president on January 1, said WADA staffers have been working closely with the UCI as the newly named three-member panel takes shape.
“We have been involved for some weeks now in working together more closely with the UCI, and helping them put their independent commission,” Reedie told VeloNews in an interview Tuesday. “We are quite happy that they’re doing [an investigation]. It’s the UCI’s wish to look into the past. That’s not WADA’s responsibility to do that, but we support them, and we need to help them in the creation of the independent commission, and that they are doing it within the anti-doping code.”
Last week, new UCI president Brian Cookson confirmed the three members who will head up an inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing with the international cycling governing body.
The UCI is funding the effort to the tune of $3 million; a substantial sum that will allow investigators to dig into cycling’s past.
The scope of the investigation is still unknown, but UCI officials are expected to release more details in the coming days about just what the commission will examine and how far back it will go.
Reedie said he is waiting to see what the final mandate of the commission will be, but he expects the inquiry to examine the roots of the doping culture and how it can be avoided for the future.
“I understand the commission will be looking at the whole picture of doping in sport, how it came about, and what they can do to make sure it never happens again,” Reedie said. “I haven’t seen all the papers yet, but I don’t think they’d be doing this just to be looking at the conduct of the UCI.”
Reedie is part of a wave of new faces taking over leadership of key international bodies. Just as Cookson is taking the reins at the UCI following his defeat of two-term president Pat McQuaid, Reedie takes over the helm from John Fahey, who served six years as president following the seven-year term of WADA founding president Dick Pound.
Pound was often at loggerheads with former UCI president Hein Verbruggen, but the arrival of Reedie and Cookson provides a chance for the two international bodies to start anew.
Cookson said one of his first calls after being elected as UCI president last fall was to reach out to WADA.
“One of the first calls I made was to WADA, because it’s essential that we have good relations with them,” Cookson told VeloNews. “The UCI and WADA spent a lot of time fighting and arguing with each other when they should have been helping each other to face the biggest problem of this sport, which is doping.”
Reedie, a lawyer who served as chairman of the British Olympic Association from 1992-2005, said he knows Cookson well, and promises a proactive dialogue with the international cycling governing body.
“The relationship with the UCI is splendid,” Reedie continued. “We are watching in interest as one sport [cycling] cleans up its house. I want WADA to move on from all that. The [conflict] dates back 15 years. I’d rather look forward with the unity we have to make things better.”
Reedie comes on as the new WADA chief following the agency’s sweeping update of the anti-doping code, which will be activated January 1, 2015.
Central to the new rules will be four-year bans for first-time offenders in cases of blatant cheating.
“We produced a new code that sets a new, higher standard moving forward. My priority is to make that work,” he said. “[A four-year ban] is a pretty serious penalty. There was universal support for stricter penalties. Our job is to support the clean athlete.”
New rules will also allow test samples to be back-tested for an additional two years, meaning testers can re-test samples dating back 10 years.
“We can say to athletes, beware, because as science improves, if you think you’re getting away with it now, that might not be the case in 10 years,” he said. “That’s quite a powerful deterrent.”