WADA director-general David Howman has told L’Équipe that he expects “many other riders and doctors” to be implicated in the Padua-based anti-doping investigation, which is centred on the activities of Dr. Michele Ferrari.
The US Anti-Doping Agency availed of information on Ferrari from the ongoing Padua investigation to form its case against Lance Armstrong and his former manager Johan Bruyneel. While Armstrong opted not to contest USADA’s charges and has been stripped of his Tour de France titles, Bruyneel has continued with his defence.
Asked if Bruyneel’s appeal would ultimately do more damage to both his reputation and that of the UCI, Howman told L’Équipe: “I don’t know, but nothing surprises me anymore in this affair. But what I do know is that the Padua magistrates are going to close their inquiry soon and that many other riders and doctors will be implicated. WADA is a civil party in this case and we have access to the dossier.”
The UCI’s management committee recently recommended the establishment of an external commission to examine allegations of impropriety made against the governing body during Lance Armstrong’s career. WADA has not been asked to play any role on the commission and Howman confirmed that the UCI has not approached the anti-doping body for advice.
“No, nothing,” he said. “But that doesn’t bother me. We have a tonne of information concerning doping practices in cycling that are available to the UCI and the commission. In 2005, after L’Équipe’s exposure of Armstrong's positive tests from 1999, we already had information that we didn’t pass on to the Vrijman report because we called into question the independence and the mandate of that expert.”
On whether he had greater confidence in this latest independent commission investigating the UCI’s rapport with Armstrong, Howman said: “The identity of the members doesn’t matter much if the job is done. Pat McQuaid has assured that the hearings and the report will be public.”
Howman also discussed the UCI’s often frosty relationship with WADA over the past decade, stating that WADA’s observers had been intimidated during their work at the 2003 Tour de France: “Yes, that summer, the UCI tried to intimidate WADA, our observers, like Armstrong himself did with the peloton… We were cast aside by the UCI.”
Since then, WADA’s observers have been present at only one Tour de France, 2010, when they were called in following a dispute between the UCI and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) over additional testing at the race.
“We did the job in 2003, but apart from 2010, we haven’t been invited again,” Howman said. “We don’t have the financial means to impose ourselves, so we needed the UCI and the organisers to ask us. It’s a simple problem of resources for us.”
The WADA-accredited laboratory in Lausanne is at the centre of one of the greatest controversies surrounding the UCI’s rapport with Armstrong, namely the analysis of the suspect sample he returned at the 2001 Tour de Suisse. According to Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong told teammates that he had tested positive but that the result had been covered up by the UCI.
“If we were concerned about the integrity of that lab, we would have intervened but we have no information in that sense,” Howman said. “As for that control in 2001, even if the USADA report evokes the circumstances of the story, I don’t think that everything has been said on the matter. The commission will need to take charge of it. Everything, absolutely everything, needs to be put on the table…”
Howman was guarded when L’Équipe’s Damien Ressiot - the journalist who revealed Armstrong's positive tests from the 1999 Tour de France - suggested that USADA might have yet more information not outlined in its Reasoned Decision on the Armstrong case that would shed more light on allegations of possible collusion between the UCI and Armstrong.
“It is you who say it. More generally, WADA has the mandate to supervise the conformity of the UCI’s anti-doping programme. We have done that. In that dossier, we are faced with a real problem of governance.”