UCI President Brian Cookson has said that he will have no say in whether Lance Armstrong’s life ban will be reduced if he provides testimony to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission. The commission has been established to investigate doping in cycling and examine allegations that the UCI was complicit in covering up doping activity in the past.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Tour Down Under in Australia, Cookson acknowledged that there “will be the possibility of a reduction” of Armstrong’s ban if he provides evidence to the commission, but he said that the decision is not the UCI’s to make.
“It all depends on what information Lance has and what he's able to reveal," Cookson said, according to the Associated Press. "Actually that's not going to be in my hands. He's been sanctioned by USADA.
“They would have to agree to any reduction in his sanction based on the validity and strength of the information that he provided. If they're happy, if WADA are happy, then I will be happy."
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life in October 2012 following the publication of USADA’s report into the doping culture at his former US Postal service team. He confessed to doping in a television interview in January of last year.
Cookson stressed that the newly-established commission would be entirely independent of the UCI, and that said that the sport’s governing body would not involve itself in encouraging Armstrong to come forward and provide evidence.
''He won't get a phone call from me,'' Cookson said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. ''I am deliberately not speaking to anyone about what [people] may or may not contribute to the commission. That's the job of the commission. It's independent. It's impartial.”
The UCI’s previous attempt at establishing an independent commission collapsed in January of last year, when Pat McQuaid was still president of the body. The make-up of the new commission was announced earlier this month, with the UCI naming Swiss politician Dick Marty, CAS arbitrator Ulrich Haas and former Australian military officer Peter Nicholson to the three-man panel.
According to a statement issued on January 8, the commission was said to have started preparatory work and would “soon be given complete access to the files of the UCI and all the electronic data.”
''They will open up for business as soon as they can get all the administration sorted,” Cookson said on Wednesday. “And Lance will be able to contact them just the same as everybody else.”