Lance Armstrong's chances of securing a reduction to his life-time ban for doping appear to have taken a blow as a consequence of the UCI announcing the creation of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) to investigate how doping became so prevalent in the so-called 'EPO-era'.
Armstrong has tried to swing public opinion in a series of interviews in recent months, claiming he would be 'first through the door" at any investigation but he has demanded he is given a similar treatment to other riders who have confessed to doping. "My punishment is a thousand bigger than the ‘crime’ I committed," he told Gazzetta dello Sport when in Rome in December.
However the UCI has moved away from creating a full blown 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' and only said it was 'in the final stages of discussions with WADA to agree how best to incentivise people to co-operate with the Independent Commission."
According to the Telegraph newspaper, the Commission will have the powers to give 'a free pass' to people who testify but not those who have already been convicted of doping offences.
The British newspaper suggests Armstrong could eventually be contacted by the Commission and perhaps get his ban reduced to eight years but only with the approval of USADA, who has always questioned Armstrong's motives and conviction to fully revealing what he knows about doping in the sport.
Armstrong told Cyclingnews via email that "We've had no contact from any of their side, so I have no idea what this is about."
On Twitter he wrote: "my position remains unchanged. I plan on cooperating openly & honestly w/ ANY UCI commission that contacts me."
"I can also confirm that neither myself nor anyone on my team has been contacted by the UCI or the independent commission."
However USADA has always claimed they gave Armstrong numerous opportunities to speak to them about what he knows of the 'EPO-era' but he always refused to fully co-operate.
The Telegraph reported that USADA has now suggested that Armstrong has missed his chance, with any useful information he may have been able to provide, having already been uncovered.
"Despite Mr Armstrong publicly claiming he wants to help, privately since June 2012, he has repeatedly rejected the opportunity to do so and has shut the door on his chance," USADA said.
"Much of the information we understand that Mr Armstrong could have provided is of little, if any, value now, as it has already been uncovered through other avenues or soon will be."
In an email to Cyclingnews, USADA CEO Travis Tygart commented on the commitment to end a culture of doping in cycling. "“From day one our investigation into cycling has been focused on dismantling the culture of doping that infiltrated the sport, so we are glad the new UCI leadership is now moving forward to attempt to unshackle itself from this corrupt culture for the good of the sport and clean athletes," Tygart said.
"We are pleased to see the named commissioners come from appropriate and distinguished backgrounds, and we are hopeful they will continue the effort to uncover the system of doping that took over this sport so that this level of dangerous fraud never happens again."
UCI President Brian Cookson said the Cycling Independent Reform Commission has been created to understand the past and avoid similar mistakes in the future.
“This Commission will investigate the problems cycling has faced in recent years, especially the allegations that the UCI has been involved in wrongdoing in the past — allegations which have done so much to hurt the credibility of the UCI and our sport,” Cookson said in a UCI statement.
“Their work will also be focused on understanding what went so wrong in our sport and they will make recommendations for change so that as far as possible those mistakes are not repeated.”
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