WADA, CCN’s Fuller have ‘significant concerns’ with UCI review commission

WADA chief John Fahey and Change Cycling Now backer Jaimie Fuller express concern over independence of UCI's 'independent commission'

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — The World Anti-Doping Agency and Change Cycling Now have voiced concerns with the UCI’s independent review commission, but the former will still meet with cycling’s governing body to discuss a potential role in the process.

The UCI established a review commission in the wake of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s Lance Armstrong investigation, which raised serious accusations of UCI complacency — and even complicity — in regard to Armstrong’s doping. Now, some in cycling and anti-doping are questioning the ability of a commission tethered to the UCI to critique the entity appropriately.

“WADA has some significant concerns about the commission’s terms of reference and has alerted the lawyers representing the commission of its concerns,” read a release from WADA president John Fahey. The anti-doping body plans to meet with the UCI soon.

“If WADA’s concerns cannot be resolved as a result of this meeting, WADA will consider seriously whether it can take part in the commission’s process,” Fahey said. “WADA will make no further public comment on the matter until after the meeting.”

Philip Otton, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malcolm Holmes are charged with the UCI review. They are to dig up evidence relating to corruption claims and possibly propose changes to the way the UCI manages its anti-doping efforts. The commission is to report its findings by June 1. It is expected that the group will seriously vet allegations that the UCI was complicit in Armstrong’s doping, and has buried positive samples in the past.

Former teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton alleged under oath that Armstrong told them how the UCI helped cover up a positive doping test from the 2001 Tour de Suisse. Other witnesses, including former support staffer Emma O’Reilly, alleged that U.S. Postal Service staff produced a backdated medical prescription to excuse a positive cortisone test at the 1999 Tour de France. The governing body has denied the claims.

“If they say our attitude was inadequate, we’ll take the necessary measures to ensure that this sort of thing won’t happen again in the future with a big name rider,” McQuaid recently told Agence France Presse. “In the USADA report on Armstrong, there were many accusations that we reject. The UCI is serene and convinced that the independent commission will show that these allegations are not justified as the UCI has always been a pioneer in the fight against doping.”

Jaimie Fuller, Skins chairman and now a figurehead of the Change Cycling Now group, said the commission has to be fully independent and must have the backing of WADA and USADA.

“We’ve got to make sure it’s going to be completely independent, and we’ve got to make sure there is only one objective for that commission, which is get to the bottom of the truth,” he told VeloNews. “And there is, understandably, a degree of cynicism and paranoia about the setup of that commission and about the scope.”

It’s been made clear the commission has the ability to interview UCI brass, such as McQuaid and past president Hein Verbruggen. The commission’s terms of reference — issued by the UCI — also make clear that the investigatory body has the ability to view “without limitation” physical and electronic copies of records, including financial ledgers, bank and computer records. The terms of reference also outline the fact that “conclusions” can be drawn from those documents.

“I can’t see how they could possibly not achieve that goal, because you can imagine the implications if WADA, USADA, and Change Cycling Now all turned around and said: ‘We don’t believe in the objectives of this commission; we’re not going to participate,’” Fuller said.

McQuaid, for his part, has dismissed the lobby group Change Cycling Now as having a hidden agenda.

“They have discussed nothing with us; they only spoke of their own interests for two days in London,” he said. “They are not part of cycling, they have no mandate, no status, but they do have a conflict of interest,” he said, citing Fuller’s business involvement and other factors.

The UCI’s independent commission has reached out to CCN, regardless of McQuaid’s stance on the pressure group. The commission will meet in London for three weeks in April 2013.

Information from the Agence France Presse was used in this report.