UCI Independent Commission “blindfolded and handcuffed”, says USADA

USADA chief Travis Tygart (R) shakes hands with Senator Arlen Specter at a 2009 hearing in Washington, DC about screening dietary supplements for illegal steroids.

USADA chief Travis Tygart (R) shakes hands with Senator Arlen Specter at a 2009 hearing in Washington, DC about screening dietary supplements for illegal steroids. (Image credit: AFP)

The UCI’s sudden decision to disband the independent commission it created to investigate its anti-doping efforts has come under harsh criticism from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart.

The UCI Independent Commission (UCIIC) was founded in response to the publication of USADA’s reasoned decision on its ban of Lance Armstrong - documents which revealed systemic doping issues in the sport that went unchecked for years by its governing body.

The UCI decided to scrap the investigation on Monday, purportedly in favour of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (TRC), but Tygart questioned the UCI’s commitment to an independent process.

“As we previously said, the UCI blindfolded and handcuffed its Independent Commission and now hopes the world will look the other way while the UCI attempts to insert itself into the investigation into the role it played in allowing the doping culture to flourish,” Tygart said.

Tygart objected to the concept of the UCI’s involvement in running the TRC.

“We have always fully supported a well-structured truth and reconciliation process in order to clean up the sport and protect the rights of athletes but it is clear that the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome in this effort.”

USADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) refused to take part in the UCIIC until the UCI agreed to include the TRC in the process, among other objections. UCI president Pat McQuaid was reportedly in negotiations with the WADA president John Fahey to establish a TRC, but on Monday announced the UCI would be in charge of creating it.

WADA called the UCI's actions "unilateral and arrogant", and sought to appear before the UCIIC and discuss the matter, but the UCIIC announced today that its January 31 meeting would not occur.

The UCIIC also issued a statement supporting the creation of a TRC, but expressed reservations.

“The Commission remains concerned as to WADA’s and the UCI’s ability to agree the scope, timing and structure of the TRC and also whether the T&R process is sufficiently advanced to justify the UCI’s termination of this Inquiry.”

The statement took the UCI to task for failing to work with the Independent Commission.

“When this Commission was announced, Pat McQuaid stated that the UCI ‘will co-operate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their inquiry' and urged 'all other interested stakeholders to do the same’. Neither the UCI nor interested stakeholders have provided sufficient co-operation to enable the Commission to do its job. This failure to cooperate makes our task impossible.”

“The evidence which has been gathered by the Commission will be retained by Macfarlanes for use by the TRC once established.”

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