UCI to spend more than $3 million on internal inquiry

"This is a priority for the UCI and is part of our goal to rebuild trust in our sport," one official tells VeloNews

The UCI is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to funding a newly created, three-member panel that will X-ray the cycling federation’s dirty laundry.

Officials confirmed to VeloNews that the UCI has budgeted 3 million Swiss francs (about $3.3 million), a substantial sum for the international cycling federation, considering its average annual expenses are around 6 to 8 million Swiss francs.

“This is a priority for the UCI and is part of our goal to rebuild trust in our sport,” a UCI official told VeloNews via e-mail to confirm the inquiry’s budget.

Last week, UCI president Brian Cookson confirmed the names of the three-member panel that will investigate allegations of wrongdoing and other illicit activities within the UCI.

“This Commission will investigate the problems cycling has faced in recent years, especially the allegations that the UCI has been involved in wrongdoing in the past — allegations which have done so much to hurt the credibility of the UCI and our sport,” Cookson said. “Their work will also be focused on understanding what went so wrong in our sport and they will make recommendations for change so that as far as possible those mistakes are not repeated.”

Cookson assured that the panel will have complete autonomy and will have access to all UCI documents, communications, and other information, including data secured by a security firm just hours after winning the UCI presidency in September.

The full scope of the inquiry remains vague, however. It is not clear if the panel will only focus on the UCI’s activities, or if it will include a larger umbrella for a complete revisit of the EPO era.

Cookson said he hoped the inquiry could be completed within a year, but said the commission — dubbed the Cycling Independent Reform Commission — will have final say on how much time it believes is required to complete its work.

UCI officials denied an interview request from VeloNews with panel chief Dick Marty, a Swiss politician and prosecutor with an impressive resume that includes experience working on organized crimes and an investigation into secret CIA prisons based in Europe.

“The commission has already started its work, which will be on a confidentiality basis,” the UCI official wrote in an e-mail. “The commission might be willing to update the media from time to time, but the very last decision of its relevance will always belong to it. The final findings and recommendation will be publicly announced.”