Index: Cycling Independent Reform Commission timeline

USADA investigation into Armstrong unearths alleged UCI complicity in doping

To understand the Cycling Independent Reform Commission's scope, we need to go back to the moment in time when all of cycling's doping past finally reached a tipping point, and that is the day of May 10, 2010: the day that Floyd Landis made public his accusations that the US Postal Service team engaged in organised doping during Lance Armstrong's Tour de France reign.

The story caught the eye of the US Federal Government, whose Food and Drug Adminstration was enlisted to launch an investigation similar to the BALCO steroid case which had concluded a few years earlier.

  • US FDA investigation of Armstrong allegations - a timeline
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Notably, the UCI, once it got wind of the interest of the FDA, requested that USADA investigate claims that Landis had made against Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Jim Ochowicz and David Zabriskie. USADA was more than happy to oblige once the federal investigation was abruptly closed. The UCI may have gotten more than it bargained for, because USADA turned up multiple allegations that the UCI itself was at worst complicit in the doping culture, and at best it turned a blind eye to it. In June, 2012, USADA formally announced it had charged Armstrong with doping.

Meanwhile, the flood gates of doping confessions opened with Tyler Hamilton revealing more unsettling details into the doping culture of the sport in the early 2000s in a book called The Secret Race. Again, more allegations that the UCI was not doing its best to combat the doping.

By the end of 2012, the UCI agreed to form an "independent commission" which would get to the bottom of the allegations against the UCI made in the USADA report. 

The anti-doping authorities lobbied for the commission to provide a path toward amnesty for athletes who helped the investigation so they would no longer feel pressure to cover up their actions and the actions of others. It became an major sticking point, and the UCI hastily disbanded the commission, much to the dismay of WADA and USADA.

Finally, on January 17, 2013, Armstrong went on television for an interview with Oprah Winfrey and confessed to doping.

The independent commission didn't last long after that.

The anti-doping authorities continued to push for amnesty, while the UCI continued to combat allegations of covering up positive tests for Armstrong. At the same time, a challenger to Pat McQuaid emerged in Brian Cookson, and the battle became more politically charged than ever.

On September 27, 2013, Cookson was elected president of the UCI, and began work on a new independent commission, thankfully giving up on the somewhat offensive "truth and reconciliation" nomiker in favour of the title "Cycling Independent Reform Commission". All talk of amnesty was dropped, although the panel was given the leeway to offer reduced doping bans to those who cooperated. That courtesy was not extended to Armstrong, who testified twice.

 

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