ASADA investigation into Australian cycling still pending

Despite participants of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into cycling being told that a report was due for release at the end of January, the government body cannot commit to a date for its findings.

ASADA's investigation was launched in October 2012 in response to the fallout from that of its United States counterpart, saying: "The 'Reasoned Decision' released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) paints a disturbing picture of a highly sophisticated doping program in the sport of professional cycling."

ASADA has been encouraging athletes to come forward and provide information for the investigation, offering 'substantial assistance' in-line with the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

Asked by Cyclingnews how the report was progressing, ASADA offered the following response.

"ASADA's cycling investigation is progressing," said a spokesperson. "ASADA is unable to discuss the ongoing investigation or operational matters associated with the investigation until such time as its legislation permits."

The USADA report claimed the scalp of Australian Matt White, and his was dismissed from his role with Cycling Australia as men's professional road co-ordinator. He was also later dismissed by Orica-GreenEdge. The process of White's sacking led to retired rider Stephen Hodge resigning from the position as Cycling Australia's vice president.

White has said that he was "part of a team where doping formed part of the team's strategy, and I too was involved in that strategy. My involvement is something I am not proud of and I sincerely apologise to my fans, media, family and friends who trusted me and also to other athletes in my era that consciously chose not to dope."

Hodge admitted to using EPO, cortisone and other substances from 1989 until his retirement in 1996 - something he deemed necessary in order to be able to compete at the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.

So far, Hodge and White are the only two Australian cyclists that have admitted to doping in this drug-fuelled era of the sport.

A separate review into Cycling Australia focussing on internal governance was also launched in response to the admissions, with 17 "wide-ranging recommendations" recently released by its author, Justice James Wood. The federal government warned the sporting body, through Sports Minister Senator Kate Lundy, that the recommendations be taken up by the end of this year or "ongoing funding from the Australian Government will be reviewed."

An external review into Orica GreenEdge, led by former WADA director Nicki Vance, is also due for release in coming months.

ASADA previously attempted to investigate the claims made by Floyd Landis which eventually resulted in White's downfall when they were first released in 2010, however "Due to the Federal investigation in the United States and subsequent United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation ASADA was unable to obtain information to pursue a thorough investigation," the Authority said in October last year.

Meantime, ASADA is also engaged in a high-profile investigation by the Australian Crime Commission into the integrity of Australian sport and the relationship between professional sporting bodies, prohibited substances and organised crime.

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