UCI president Brian Cookson's selections for the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, announced today, go far beyond the insular world of sport, bringing in three individuals with extensive experience in investigating international crimes.
The trio will be tasked with digging into the UCI's past, and finding out if there is any substance to the allegations that the former administration was involved in covering up doping, allowing the era of rampant doping to go virtually unchecked.
Heading up the CIRC is Dick Marty, a Swiss politician and former state prosecutor who holds a doctorate in law. During his time as prosecutor, Marty specialized in organized crime and drug legislation. As part of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Marty took on the CIA over its alleged illegal detention centers in Romania and Poland that were part of the 'war on terror'. He also investigated illegal human organ trafficking in Kosovo.
The second member is Peter Nicholson, an Australian former military officer. Nicholson served as the chief investigator for the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission, investigating war crimes. He was involved in the inquiry into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Completing the three-man panel is Ulrich Haas, an arbitrator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and advisor to the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention.
Haas is the most experienced of the three in sports law and doping. He chaired the German Anti-Doping Commission from 1999 to 2002, and was involved in the revision of the World Anti-Doping Code in 2006-2007. Haas was the chair of WADA's independent observer team at the 2004 Olympic Games.
Haas is also the only one of the three directly familiar with doping in cycling, having served as an arbitrator for the CAS case the UCI took against Alberto Contador in relation to his 2010 Tour de France clenbuterol positive, and in the failed appeal by Riccardo Ricco against his 12-year ban from the sport.
It isn't the first time that doping in cycling caught the attention of international investigators: until a US Federal investigation into the US Postal Service Team met its untimely demise, the FDA's Jeff Novitzky (who headed up the BALCO case) travelled across Europe, reportedly meeting with the French Anti-Doping Agency, Italian police and Interpol.
The Italian police confirmed that the investigators were focussing on drug trafficking in relation to the US Postal case, but the line went silent after the federal investigation was abruptly closed in January, 2012.