The World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey hit back at the International Cycling Union, stating that his agency was never consulted on the topic of amnesty for cycling’s dopers.
WADA refused this week to take part in the UCI’s independent commission, which was set up to examine the UCI’s anti-doping efforts in the wake of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban.
The UCI had reacted to both WADA and USADA’s refusal to join the study, stating, “WADA had proposed late last year that the UCI agree an amnesty for those coming forward to give evidence before the Commission. UCI has explained to WADA that any amnesty from UCI would have limited effect as the IOC, national anti-doping authorities, sponsors and indeed criminal authorities could, as we have seen in the Lance Armstrong case, pursue actions against athletes admitting to doping.”
The UCI press release detailed a WADA amnesty proposal, stating, “WADA’s proposal was that anyone who came forward with information would be given a complete amnesty, with no period of ineligibility and no loss of results, and, incredibly, would be given psychological support to be financed by the UCI.”
“It is disappointing that after UCI’s concerns were raised with WADA, rather than addressing them, they have indicated that they will pull out altogether.”
Fahey replied on Thursday, stating that his agency was not the one that initially made the amnesty proposal, USADA was, and said the UCI never consulted WADA regarding the concept.
“WADA was never approached by the UCI to discuss how it could be achieved and only recently received a letter from the UCI counsel indicating that the UCI would not consider it for this Commission, and would only consider taking part in such a process if it was to involve all endurance sport.
“WADA has always been ready and available to discuss any program. WADA is on record stating this as far back as October 2012. … “Had the UCI approached WADA to discuss such an amnesty then it would have been advised that such a process would be possible to implement with the approval of WADA’s Foundation Board. The President of the UCI was present in his capacity as a then member of the WADA Foundation Board at its meeting in November 2012 and did not raise the issue.”
Fahey expressed his agency’s lack of trust in the UCI to have a truly independent commission, recalling its handling of the Vrijman Report, which examined the data uncovered by French journalist Damien Ressiot which matched EPO-positive research samples to Lance Armstrong’s doping control forms from the 1999 Tour de France. The Vrijman Report dismissed the claims, much to WADA’s objections.
“The shortcomings of the Vrijman Report were obvious at the time, and more so today,” Fahey said. “This new Commission had a chance not to repeat that mistake but regrettably is not being permitted to do so.”
The UCI stated that it relied on WADA’s and USADA’s testing, and that science failed to uncover any evidence of doping by Armstrong and his teammates. “There is no dispute, therefore, that we are talking about doping violations that were difficult, if not impossible, to detect on the basis of the existing science and the limited methods at the disposal of anti-doping authorities,” the UCI stated.
Fahey replied, “It has become typical of the UCI to point fingers at others when yet another doping controversy hits the sport of cycling. WADA has recognized for some years the limits of science, but science is not the only element in an effective anti-doping program.
“The way controls are undertaken by the responsible anti-doping organization (in this situation the UCI), the alleged insider information provided in this sport to the cyclists, the suggestion of warnings being given to cyclists before the testers arrive, and many other matters raised by the USADA report, and by others, can clearly reduce the effectiveness of a testing program and lead to negative test results.”