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: °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

WADA and UCI confirm cycling doping probe… including Lance Armstrong testimony

The disgraced former Tour kingpin will be invited to take part in the commission.

UCI President Brian Cookson.
UCI President Brian Cookson.
Image: (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

THE WORLD ANTI-Doping Agency and cycling’s governing body have agreed to work together on an investigation of the sport’s doping past that will include inviting Lance Armstrong to testify before the joint commission.

The agreement with the UCI gave WADA something to show for the behind-the-scenes discussions at its World Conference on Doping in Sport. Concerns over two major track countries, Jamaica and Kenya, are still on the agenda at WADA’s four-day summit.

Providing little detail of the commission and its mandate, WADA and the International Cycling Union said in a joint statement late last night that they have agreed to “the broad terms under which the UCI will conduct a commission of inquiry into the historical doping problems in cycling.”

The agreement followed a private meeting between new UCI President Brian Cookson and WADA President Johan Fahey at the conference in Johannesburg.

“They (Cookson and Fahey) further agreed that their respective colleagues would cooperate to finalise the detailed terms and conditions of the inquiry to ensure that the procedures and ultimate outcomes would be in line with the fundamental rules and principles of the World Anti-Doping Code,” the statement said. Cookson told The Associated Press earlier Wednesday about seeking Armstrong’s testimony.

Armstrong was banned for life in 2012 and there remain allegations that UCI officials helped protect him from doping protocols while he was winning his seven Tour de France titles. “I would like to see Lance Armstrong come and give evidence, if he has any evidence in particular on the kind of allegations being made about him buying support or collusion from UCI officials,” Cookson told AP. “If those things are true, I’d like to hear about it and I’m sure the commission would like to hear about it as well.

“As part of that (commission), we’ll investigate allegations of the UCI’s behavior in the past and if there are any issues that come up out of that, we will deal with them effectively.” Cookson, who was elected to lead the UCI in late September on promises of confronting the sport’s drug-stained past, said his body had no power to reduce Armstrong’s ban in return for him telling what he knows, but said there would have to be “incentives” for some people to testify.

Cookson said the commission would likely start work in early 2014 and he wanted it to be finished within 12 months. In its main business in Johannesburg, WADA will vote on proposed changes to its anti-doping code on Friday, and is expected to bring in longer bans for serious dopers among other changes.

The new code will come into effect on 1 January, 2015, and in time for the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. WADA is pushing for a doubling of bans for intentional doping offenses from two years to four, ensuring a doping cheat will miss at least one Olympics.

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