The World and US Anti-Doping Agencies announced today that they would not be participating in the Independent Commission which as been set up to examine the anti-doping efforts of the UCI in the wake of the USADA’s reasoned decision on its lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong.
The USADA investigation unearthed serious questions regarding the UCI’s anti-doping efforts during the widespread doping programme run at the US Postal Service Team during Armstrong’s career.
The agency stated that “following communication with lawyers representing the Independent Commission … WADA has informed the UCI that it has decided not to partake in the inquiry.”
There were “a number serious concerns” that led to the decision, namely that the inquiry focuses too much on Armstrong, whose case was closed with the lifetime ban after the American refused to contest the charges.
WADA stated that it felt the inquiry will “not fully address such a widespread and ingrained problem”.
Other objections included the short time frame, which it said was “wholly insufficient and will result in a lost opportunity to properly investigate the problem”. The commission is due to deliver its final report in June.
It also felt that the UCI had too strong of a say in the “terms of reference”, which were signed off by the UCI and the commission “without consultation with the anti-doping authorities”.
WADA also objected to the fact that the commission is required to deliver its final report to the UCI before any other party, a stipulation it called “unacceptable”.
“Finally, because the Commission does not offer immunity there is no incentive for witnesses to come forward, or to even give witness statements. An approach that does not allow individuals to give evidence without the fear of retaliation will merely perpetuate the ‘omerta’ that has been an obstacle to cycling investigations in the past.”
The UCI, according to WADA, has been unwilling to change any of the requirements for the commission, and therefore “WADA has declined to spend money and dedicate resources on an inquiry that has such obvious limitations.”
The lack of a path to amnesty was a deal breaker for USADA CEO Travis Tygart, who confirmed his agency would also not participate in the UCI commission.
"UCI's refusal to agree to allow a limited opportunity for riders to come forward and be truthful without fear of retribution or retaliation from the UCI obviously calls into question the UCI's commitment to a full and thorough investigation and creates grave concern that the UCI has blindfolded and handcuffed this Independent Commission to ensure a pre-determined outcome. The current terms of reference are not good for clean athletes or moving this sport forward to a better future.”