WADA ‘encouraged’ by UCI Armstrong stance

World Anti-Doping Agency boss says the UCI's ban of Armstrong is a step in the right direction

MONTREAL (AFP) — The UCI’s decision Monday to cast out Lance Armstrong left World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey “encouraged” that sport’s biggest doping scandal was drawing to “a correct conclusion.”

UCI president Pat McQuaid said on Monday that he supported the findings of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which branded seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong the central figure in a sophisticated, systematic doping scheme.

“WADA is encouraged that the UCI feels it can use this case as a catalyst to thoroughly clean up its sport and remove any remaining vestiges of the doping programs that have clearly damaged cycling,” Fahey said in a statement.

According to its own rules, WADA reserves the right to appeal the outcome — a lifetime ban for Armstrong and the loss of his Tour titles and other results dating back to August 1, 1998 — to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“WADA will announce that decision in due course, and will continue to examine the evidence encouraged by the fact that the biggest doping scandal in the history of sport is close to reaching a correct conclusion,” Fahey said.

But WADA spokesman Terence O’Rorke in Montreal, where the organization is headquartered, said the fact that WADA says it could appeal does not indicate a problem with the case.

“Absolutely not,” he said, adding that reviewing cases is “part of our mandate.”

In 2011, WADA reviwed 1,700 doping cases around the world and appealed 18 because they did not conform to the World Anti-Doping Code.

“All indications are, so far, that USADA have done everything correctly and the UCI have also acted correctly,” O’Rorke said.

Fahey said USADA’s case against Armstrong, based largely on damning testimony from witnesses that included former teammates, supported WADA’s stance that “testing and analysis alone is not sufficient to expose the doping of athletes who have the support of sophisticated and unscrupulous individuals.”

“It has always been incumbent on anti-doping organizations to undertake a more coherent approach to widespread allegations of doping, and it is not sufficient to claim that enough was done just because testing did not lead to analytical violations,” Fahey said.