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SYDNEY (AFP) — The chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency on Friday said he is considering an across-the-board amnesty for drug cheating athletes in the wake of the revelations involving Lance Armstrong.
The testimony of Armstrong’s fellow riders and teammates has proved to be a key element in exposing what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency described as “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
There has been a debate within the cycling world about whether an amnesty is needed to encourage others to come forward to give further evidence.
World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey said the idea has merit and it was likely to be considered once the Armstrong appeals process had run its course.
“I’m very interested in that suggestion,” Fahey told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio on Friday. “Let me say it’s not up to cycling to decide on an amnesty; it is a matter that the World Anti-Doping Agency would have to decide.”
Fahey, a former Australian politician, said he was not aware if the talk of an amnesty had spread to other sports.
“But do you leave it at simply cycling, or do you say, ‘well look, let’s have an amnesty across the board and if there is a problem in any other sport — including cycling — let everybody come clean and let’s start again?’” Fahey said. “That suggestion is one which I am sure my board would be very interested in entertaining.”
Fahey said the scope of the findings in USADA’s report had surprised him.
“I had no idea that (doping measures) went to the extent that that report indicates,” he said. “I think the whole world right now is looking to see what is cycling going to do about the problem that clearly is being demonstrated.”
The UCI is studying USADA’s report to see if it will accept the findings, based upon testimony from 26 witnesses that include 11 former Armstrong teammates.
However, it could reject Armstrong’s punishment of a life ban and being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, likely setting up a hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Armstrong is becoming increasingly isolated in the face of the devastating doping report and this week stood down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded in 1997. Commercial sponsors, including Nike and brewer Anheuser-Busch, have severed ties with him. Armstrong will make his first public appearance since USADA published its case file on Friday at a fundraiser and 15th anniversary celebration for Livestrong.