Cycling’s federation faces shake-up with announced commission

The UCI charges its independent review group with a long list of considerations in its evaluation of the federation's doping stance

MILAN (VN) — Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, announced today a commission that may shake its own foundations. The independent commission is to examine alleged corruption and to propose changes in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The UCI announced today that the commission would hold hearings April 9 to 26 and submit its report by June. The report may shed light on alleged cover-ups during Armstrong’s career. Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis provided sworn testimony to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency claiming that Armstrong told them he tested positive at the 2001 Tour de Suisse and that the UCI knew about it.

The report, if it uncovers proof of wrongdoing, would rattle an already shaky UCI.

Since the USADA finished its investigation and posted the details online October 10, the governing body has come under further fire. Representatives of a new professional league announced details, European newspapers printed a manifesto calling for change, and the Change Cycling Now group formed “to force change upon the UCI.” CCN consists of anti-doping advocates including Paul Kimmage, David Walsh, Greg LeMond and Jonathan Vaughters, and meets in London Sunday.

The UCI promised today that it is serious in responding to the U.S. agency’s report.

“As I have said previously, the Commission’s report and recommendations are critical to restoring confidence in the sport of cycling and in the UCI as its governing body,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said in a press release. “We will cooperate fully with the commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their enquiry and we urge all other interested stakeholders to do the same. We will listen to and act on the commission’s recommendations.”

John Coates, president of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport, selected the three-member commission announced today. Former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Philip Otton will chair the commission. He will be assisted by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a Peer member of the U.K. House of Lords and Paralympic champion, and by Australian lawyer, Malcolm Holmes QC.

The UCI will fund the commission and said its members will act independently. The commission will be able to examine “without limitation” relevant documents in possession of current and former UCI staff, including McQuaid, former president Hein Verbruggen and anti-doping experts Anne Gripper, Francesca Rossi and Mario Zorzoli.

A separate Terms of Reference released on Friday listed 11 points for commission to consider.

The points in brief:

1. Are the allegations in the USADA’s Reasoned Decision well founded?
2. Did the UCI know what Armstrong and his team were doing? If not, should it have known?
3. Are the UCI’s anti-doping policies inadequate or not enforced sufficiently?
4. Did the UCI have evidence of doping and did it fail to act?
5. Did the UCI fail to detect doping when Armstrong returned in 2009?
6. Did Armstrong or his team pay the UCI and if so, was it appropriate?
7. Did the UCI discourage people from speaking out?
8. Did the UCI adequately cooperate with USADA’s investigation?
9. Should dopers be able to work within cycling in the future?
10. Did the UCI face a conflict of interest in promoting cycling and investigating Armstrong?
11. Are the current controls adequate and compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC)?

McQuaid explained that the selection of the commission’s members and their scope shows the UCI means business. He said, “The UCI wants to get to the bottom of the Lance Armstrong affair and put cycling back on the right track.”

In its release, the UCI said that details of a previously announced stakeholder consultation would be announced in the coming weeks. The consultation is due to take place in the first quarter of 2013 and to look at the sport’s future.

Given the commission’s scope and several other movements, it appears as if cycling’s foundations will soon shake.