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Inside USADA's draft for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission

By:
Barry Ryan
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)

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The War on Doping has morphed into a three-way war by press release over the past 48 hours as the UCI, WADA and USADA pick over the fall-out of the UCI's decision to suspend its own Independent Commission's inquiry into allegations of impropriety during its handling of the Lance Armstrong case.

Quite where this increasingly absurdist plotline will now lead is anyone's guess, but the Promised Land for all parties, so we are led to believe, is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Just as "transparency" and "internal testing programme" have held the status of buzzword du jour in years gone by, the all-singing, all-dancing "TRC" is now, apparently, the one-dose cure for all of cycling's ills.

With that in mind, the UCI has declared its willingness to head up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to the chagrin of WADA, who "will not consider partaking in any venture with UCI while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues." USADA, meanwhile, has warned that the UCI "cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome in this effort." Armstrong himself has since waded into the argument, advocating a WADA-run commission, telling Cyclingnews, "It's not the best way, it's the only way" and adding that "the UCI has no place at the table."

The expression Truth and Reconciliation - which itself has been borrowed perhaps insensitively from the commission that took place in South Africa in the aftermath of Apartheid - has been lobbed around with increasing abandon by various observers and interested parties in the Armstrong case, but its precise workings and scope remain resolutely unclear.

For now, the only harsh truth is that the governance and financing of any possible Truth and Reconciliation Commission are quite some way from being reconciled. But if the parties were ultimately to thrash out some kind of agreement, what might a TRC entail?

During last Friday's UCI Independent Commission procedural hearing in London, a draft copy of a USADA proposal for a Truth and Reconciliation element to that inquiry was circulated. The eight-point plan suggests a short, three to four week window in which individuals can provide evidence and also recommends a full amnesty for lower-level riders and support staff and the possibility of a discretionary amnesty for "those in positions of team ownership and control."

Under USADA's plan, dated December 15, 2012 and forwarded to the UCI Independent Commission as it sought submissions last month, the TRC would be headed not by the UCI, but by "an independent Anti-Doping Agency (eg WADA)", which USADA labels as the "Amnesty Management Organisation or AMO." This body would accumulate evidence by itself and through other anti-doping agencies. The USADA draft continues to list its eight-point plan, summarised as follows:

1. Leadership. "The AMO would be the driving force for the program, with assistance from others designated by the AMO," the USADA draft stresses. The AMO would decide on results management along with the specific anti-doping agencies which bring violations to the AMO's attention.

2. Referral of Information Relevant to UCI IC. A moot point given that the UCI's Independent Commission has been unceremoniously dumped, but both USADA and WADA appear keen that issues of impropriety relating to the UCI itself are explicitly addressed in any TRC.

3. Amnesty Window. In order "to encourage individuals to come forward in a timely fashion," evidence must be provided to the TRC within a period of "three weeks to one month." After the window closes, those who provide testimony "would have discretionary amnesty."

The USADA draft makes no suggestion that individuals should be summoned before the TRC, but rather simply offers them the opportunity to come forward of their own volition. By contrast, Armstrong has suggested that all living grand tour and world championships podium finishers should be called expressly before any TRC. "Sounds ambitious but the authorities have proven that nothing with regards to cycling is time barred," he said.

4. Who is eligible for amnesty? The TRC's aim is identify evidence of "the extent of doping in cycling" and "to give riders and lower-level athlete support personnel who were forced by the culture of cycling to participate in doping the chance of a fresh start."

The draft goes on to differentiate between riders and support staff, and those in "positions of team ownership and control," with automatic amnesty recommended for the former grouping and "discretionary amnesty" for the latter. Explicit though the distinction between the groups may seem, defining "control" within the context of a professional cycling team may prove problematic.

5. What does the Amnesty Offer? Automatic Amnesty means just that, USADA says: "no loss of results and protection against retaliation for the persons who elect to participate within the defined period." Discretionary Amnesty is a vaguer concept. Its terms will be "defined by the AMO", although USADA notes that it could also encompass no period of ineligibility and no loss of results.

6. Conditions for Amnesty. "The individual would need to provide a complete written statement describing his/her own participation in doping and knowledge of doping by others and commit to fully cooperate in investigations and proceedings conducted by WADA, anti-doping organisations, the UCI IC and other appropriate bodies," the proposal says. As well as providing "full and complete disclosure" individuals must also sign an agreement stating that any further anti-doping violation would lead to a lifetime ban.

The USADA proposal also makes provision for a "health and rehabilitation" element in which the rider must sign on for anti-doping counselling and will also be offered "medical guidance to address the consequences of past doping." Incidentally, USADA recommends that the UCI establish "an initial fund" of $250,000 to cover the costs of the health and rehabilitation programme.

7. Amnesty Disclosure and Protection of Participants. The UCI must adopt a ruling that "prevents retaliation" against individuals who have been granted amnesty. "Such individuals cannot be terminated from any position within the sport or have any other adverse action taken against them for participating in the amnesty programme."

Similarly, the UCI must agree "not to sue any person receiving amnesty for any statements made concerning any alleged anti-doping violation or conduct in relation to any anti-doping violations," a clause which the UCI IC interpreted to mean that the UCI would not sue former employees for breaching confidentiality agreements in their testimony to the TRC.

8. Investigations and results management arising out of amnesty programme.

(a) Investigations. Using the evidence amassed by the truth and reconciliation process, the AMO would then conduct investigations to determine whether or not to bring anti-doping violation cases against "individuals in cycling who did not participate in the amnesty programme."

(b) Results management. The AMO would have results management authority over the riders who come forward during the truth and reconciliation process. USADA proceeds to outline that the AMO could employ one of three options in its dealings with evidence relating to those who do not participate in the TRC, namely: (i) conduct a hearing of its own accord; (ii) notify the athlete's local anti-doping agency and proceed to CAS if that local anti-doping agency fails to act; (iii) notify the UCI and proceed to CAS if the UCI fails to act.

Finally, USADA's draft notes that if information from the UCI, national anti-doping agencies or police later determines that a rider "has not been fully truthful or cooperative", the AMO can revoke the rider's amnesty and request that the relevant anti-doping agency sanction the rider in question.

bammbamm1961 More than 1 year ago
it is crystal clear that UCI must purge current leadership to move forward - Why is it that the main new providers (Cycling News, will not mention others here) are unwilling to take a stand. Listen... you are only reporting, right? But what prevents you from publishing OpEd and views from people in positions of power. At the end of the day, I feel that you need not "make news" but you can certainly move past the reporting function and into the realm of opinions for the long term health of the sport and our business. Being inocuous is not an opin at this critical juncture.
TwelfthGear More than 1 year ago
I have no idea why this article insists on including Lance Armstrong's views on what should happen. For pity's sake, if we start asking him what we should do to rid the sport of doping, we might as well give up.
yossarian42 More than 1 year ago
Does this cover "doping related" confessions from those working within the UCI?
cortex More than 1 year ago
Armstrong played ball with ICU and made millions. Now they trash him and of course they are responsible for allowing him to be able to dope the way he and his time mates did. They had positive doping tests, they had indications of doping and did nothing. They even warned riders of suspicious values! No organisation with interests of financial profits can be allowed to controll occurance of doping in their own sport. The ledership and the financial insight in matters relating to ICU should be adressed in order for cycling as a professional sport to survive.
Gorgones More than 1 year ago
This proposed set of rules is wrong on so many levels. It perpetuates the corruption and does nothing, absolutely nothing for the sport. A feather duster approach allowing the corruptive elements, with a simple mea culpa, to continue in the sport. Automatic and Discretionary Amnesty? Specious at best to achieve a clear and distinct definition. Given the corruption and cover-up is still pervasive in cycling, the exact opposite premise needs to be instituted. The T&R should be formulated only to have everyone, hierarchy, management, and riders prove they were not corrupt. Otherwise, they have accomplished nothing.
stravaface More than 1 year ago
You're missing the entire point of a TRC.
Gorgones More than 1 year ago
It is a very simple premise: will the sport be cleansed with a T&R inquiry as the procedure is outlined in the article? The answer is no. That is not to say a T&R is without warrant, but I believe those advocating for such believe that all shall be rainbows and lollipops for cycling once a panel is invoked. For my two cents, it simply gives a very convenient way of perpetuating the sport while allowing many of those who wallow in the corruptive element to continue at all levels in cycling. It changes very little we have not already surmised.
stravaface More than 1 year ago
The TRC is not a means to an end. It is information and a starting point. The TRC does two things: 1) it shows the extent of how deeply doping permeates cycling, how doping works, how dopers continue to get past checks, and how/why doping is still part of pro cycling despite all the lipservice everyone pays to stopping it. 2) That intelligence provides those who want to stop doping with a road map as to how to start building the additional practices, standards and procedures that would better stop doping in the future and hopefully clean up the sport. That is important, at least in my POV, because even with biological passports and everything else, riders are still getting dinged, and McQuaid is doing everything he can to make the UCI as opaque an organization as possible. That tells me cycling is anything but clean and omerta is still happening.
Mike Jacoubowsky More than 1 year ago
The most-important function of a TRC is in getting rid of the secrets still present within the peloton. It's absurd that someone with a past, someone who might have decided long ago to give up on doping, is presently likely to be fired from his team or position in management if he comes forward. As long as that's the case, they'll stay silent. And as long as they stay silent, riding with that lie, living in a world where the punishment for their past is every bit as severe as the punishment for any new transgression... that makes crossing back over to the dark side that much easier. We need to clear the air, to expose the details, to allow decent people (those that are) to have a chance to continue in the profession they have chosen. The TRC isn't everything, but without it, we have no chance of securing a clean(er) future. The biggest fear of a TRC, I think, is that Lance will use it to justify a call for reconsideration of his own case. It's for that reason that I think it very important that we separate Lance's actual doping from the terrible things he did to people to support the lies, and see that his punishment is related to the latter, not the former. In fact, the excessive, even obsessive focus on Lance regarding doping is counter-productive. He didn't invent it, he didn't create the "team" approach to it, and, in a very real sense, he stole his 7 TdFs fair & square (the "level playing field" argument). Doping was rampant throughout the peloton. But nobody else wrecked all those lives along the way.
kom_n91 More than 1 year ago
WADA needs to lead the fight. After all the UCI are only meant to uphold not control the Worlds doping issues. The USADA really needs to take the second seat on this one. - US means United States - WADA means World Anti-Doping Agency
stravaface More than 1 year ago
I agree that WADA should lead the charge, but let's note one thing: USADA drafted that outline (which ultimately is a suggestion for an approach and nothing more) Dec. 15, and yet WADA has yet to draft anything. I'm glad USADA is pushing the issue. Hopefully WADA will pick it up and start making substantive moves.
kom_n91 More than 1 year ago
Side note... The USADA probably has the world’s strictest doping policy in place and one that I support. But I am afraid the policies have also created an unleveled playing field in the world of professional cycling. The latest crop of US amateur cyclist will not be able to complete with the Juiced-up European until there are one set of rules for all. e.g. Frank receives a retroactive one year ban on a second offense???
Chuck_T More than 1 year ago
I think the rules are the same for all ? You could call into question the fervour with which some bodies pursue it's athletes.
DrBigRing More than 1 year ago
Query how much time, effort and money should be spent on dealing with cycling's doping past versus seeking to ensure it's clean today. I'm just assuming everyone was previously doping. Whether they're doping today, that's what should be answered.
stravaface More than 1 year ago
Depending on the agency, and the country, the information is sometimes publicly available. For the United States, to the USADA site, click on resources, download it's 2011 annual report, and scroll to page 45. You'll see that USADA spent $8 million on testing; $1.4 million on results management; and $1.1. million on science (for developing new tests, etc.). That comes to $9.5 million. USADA's 2011 budget was $13.7 million. This means that USADA spent roughly 76 percent of its budget on conducting in- and out-of-competition checks, testing those checks and developing better checks.
dhm600 More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the cost of testing could be passed on to the teams as part of their costs of doing business (ie: a tax credit). It could be incorporated into the race registration fee in the form of x tests/team/day. As an incentive, clean teams - no positives in a year - would get a partial refund (call it a clean racing bonus) at the end of the racing year and dirty ones get hit with a price increase to cover the refund to the clean teams. That would definitely give the teams and, perhaps more importantly, the sponsors, an incentive not to push riders into doping (USPS). If the awarding of clean racing bonuses was give wide publicity - that would, perhaps, attract yet more sponsors to the clean teams making doubly attractive to run a clean team. I still cannot understand how WADA, under their fairly tight charter, is expected set up and run a TRC just for cycling. Their mandate is the implementation of the WADA Code to all Olympic sports. All they can offer is to make a special case to alter their rules (The Code) covering amnesties available to a cycling inquiry. That is what they have offered to do. The running of any TRC is obviously the responsibility of cycling's peak body - the UCI. Given the UCI's lack of total transparency, oversight by WADA accredited national anti-doping organizations should be a condition of WADA's offer of a special ammnesty deal. (www.wada-ama.org/en/Resources/List-of-NADOs/) That would bring USADA, amongst others, into the Commission.
roadhard More than 1 year ago
Maybe armstrong and mcquaid can hug and forget.Then put armstrong at the head of this commission. He could then greet any rider sent to him one on one with a donation jar and a quick wink .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd like to feel more confident that current and former UCI staff could take part without fear.

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