CIRC: USADA commends Cookson for anti-doping reform

The release of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report by the sports governing body, the UCI, has been welcomed by USADA's CEO Travis Tygart. The CIRC report does not contain the same explosive accounts of doping in the sport that were contained in USADA's 2012 reasoned decision, rather it provides a length history of doping in the sport, details of current suspected doping methods and recommendations for the future.

The report is based on the findings of Dr. Dick Marty, a former Swiss State Prosecutor, Ulrich Haas, an expert in anti-doping laws, and Peter Nicholson, a former military officer who specialises in criminal investigations. The Commission conducted a 13-month investigation, which was funded by the UCI, that undertook 174 interviews from UCI personnel, teams, federations, doctors, riders and former riders, sponsors, event organisers and journalists.

"We welcome the report of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) initiated by new UCI President Brian Cookson to address revelations of widespread doping and allegations of UCI’s complicity in allowing this fraudulent culture to persist," read a statement from Tygart.

"The Report confirms that, for more than a decade, UCI leaders treated riders and teams unequally- allowing some to be above the rules. The UCI’s favouritism and intentional failure to enforce the anti-doping rules offends the principles of fair play and is contrary to the values on which true sport is based.

"Sadly, the Report confirms that greed, power, and profit – not truth – motivated UCI leaders and allowed the "EPO" and "blood doping" era to ride rampant. This is a tragic loss for all cyclists who sought to compete clean during that era, and their loss can never be forgotten."

The reasoned decision criticised the UCI's role in covering up the doping practises of Lance Armstrong during his seven consecutive Tour de France victories and Tygart praised CIRC for investigating the actions of former UCI president's Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid and lifting the lid on their actions.

"A stunning example of deceit found by the CIRC is that the UCI, under the explicit direction of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, commissioned a supposedly ‘independent' investigation of Armstrong’s positive samples from the Tour de France. According to the CIRC, the UCI then conspired to allow what was sold to the public as an 'independent' report to be re-written by Armstrong’s own lawyer and sports agent in order to conceal Armstrong’s doping," Tygart said, adding that  "USADA will work with the current UCI leadership to obtain the evidence of this sordid incident to ensure that all anti-doping rule violations related to this conduct are fully investigated and prosecuted, where possible."

The CIRC report's findings of the UCI's role in attempting to derail USADA's investigations was further evidence of the governing body protecting Armstrong according to Tygart.

"The CIRC has also confirmed that during USADA’s case against Armstrong in 2012, and under the direction of former UCI President Pat McQuaid, the UCI intentionally adopted an inaccurate position on its own anti-doping rules in order to try to derail USADA’s case against Armstrong and his co-conspirators. Here again, McQuaid’s actions were intended to prevent the truth about Armstrong’s doping and the UCI’s complicity in it from being exposed," Tygart said in the USADA release.

Tygart made special mention of current UCI president Brian Cookson for the creation of CIRC and illustrating the past deeds of the governing body.

"We commend President Brian Cookson for his resolve and for promptly taking steps upon his election to secure the UCI’s servers and electronic data to preserve this important evidence of the UCI’s wrongdoing. We applaud President Cookson for publishing the CIRC Report uncensored," Tygart said. "As noted by the CIRC report, under President Cookson’s leadership the UCI is engaged in promising reforms of its anti-doping operations. We are encouraged by President Cookson’s commitment to strong partnerships with independent national anti-doping organisations whose only mission is to ensure a level playing field for all athletes.

"The clear message of the CIRC Report is what we have always said – sport cannot effectively both promote and police itself, without the support of independent anti-doping organisations. As the past story of the UCI demonstrates the race for power and profit by sport leaders can overrun integrity, fair play, and the rights of clean athletes."

While welcoming of the CIRC report, Tygart noted that the implementations of the findings is ultimately what will lead to a cleaner future for the sport.

"USADA has been working closely with the UCI this year to implement a series of reforms that we believe hold promise for the future of clean cycling. Ultimately, the success of cycling’s transformation will be measured by how successfully the UCI implements these reforms to bring about new accountability, independence and transparency into its processes," Tygart said.

"The CIRC Report is a strong first step in moving past the failures of the past, and USADA remains committed to working with the UCI to bring about a brighter future for clean cycling."

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