Suggests UCI/WADA rules may not have been broken
By Shane Stokes
The International Cycling Union (UCI) was not ready to speculate Thursday on whether or not it would uphold a possible sanction of Lance Armstrong by the French anti-doping authorities. The seven-time champion fell afoul of the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) during a March 17 out-of-competition doping control where, authorities claim, he disobeyed procedures.
The AFLD announced Thursday that it was considering disciplinary proceedings against Armstrong for failing to remain in sight of the doping control officer between notification of the test and the collection of blood, urine and hair samples. Armstrong insisted he was given permission by the officer to leave his presence in order to shower.
Contacted by Cyclingnews on Thursday evening, UCI president Pat McQuaid said that the UCI would wait until an AFLD decision before commenting in depth on the Lance Armstrong situation. However in reading between the lines, it sounded like things could potentially become quite complex.
"I sent them a letter yesterday saying we don't have jurisdiction in this matter," confirmed McQuaid, backing up the assertion by the AFLD that the UCI said it was allowed to start a proceeding. "It is a French national affair under French law.
"At this point in time, it is up to the AFLD whether they want to progress with this or not. If they do, if they give a sanction, then I will ask our lawyers to look at the case as to whether a sanction would be applicable [worldwide] under UCI rules or not," said McQuaid.
"We will wait and see what happens. As far as we are aware, he hasn't broken either UCI or WADA rules," he continued.
The AFLD is certain to contest this point, given that it quoted WADA's International Standard of Testing guidelines in its statement on Thursday. That states that the athlete being tested must "remain within direct observation of the DCO/Chaperone at all times from the point of notification by the DCO/Chaperone until the completion of the Sample collection procedure." The days and weeks ahead are certain to reveal more details about the case.
Cyclingnews was not able to reach WADA or Armstrong's spokesman Mark Higgins for comments on the matter.
Under current rules, the AFLD has the power to ban Lance Armstrong from racing on French soil. Once a national ban is in place, the UCI can then decide to apply it or not in other jurisdictions.
It followed this pattern in the recent case of Stefan Schumacher, the double Tour de France stage winner who subsequently tested positive for CERA. Any ruling against Armstrong by either the AFLD or another body is likely to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS].