UCI Independent Commission contacts potential witnesses

Pat McQuaid answers questions

Pat McQuaid answers questions (Image credit: AFP)

Potential witnesses have now been contacted on behalf of the UCI's Independent Commission which is set to examine whether the sport's governing body acted appropriately or not during the Lance Armstrong era. Witnesses have been called to submit any relevant evidence by December 31, 2012 and have been asked if they are willing to testify at the Commission's hearing which will take place in April of 2013. Cyclingnews understands that the potential witnesses extend to individuals the UCI has previously taken legal action against.

The Commission was initiated in October with the UCI selecting the President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), John Coates as the individual in charge of selecting the three-person panel.

The Commission will be chaired by former Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Philip Otton, assisted by House of Lords Peer, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and Australian lawyer, Malcolm Holmes QC.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles through USADA's reasoned decision and while several other riders were handed six-month suspensions for their own doping illegalities, the UCI were alleged to have acted in a corrupt fashion by several of USADA's key witnesses. The UCI has always denied the allegations with both Pat McQuaid, the current president and Hein Verbruggen, McQuaid's predecessor, denying that the UCI covered up a test for Lance Armstrong. The UCI have already admitted that they accepted several donations from Armstrong though but have stated that the funds were used to fund their own anti-doping tests.

A legal team, acting on behalf of the Independent Commission has now reached out to potential witnesses and requested them to give written witness evidence, or provide documents to the Commission ahead of their London hearing. In a letter obtained by Cyclingnews from an unnamed witness, dated December 6, one potential witnesses is asked to come forward and assist with "its investigators."

The letter continues, stating that the "purpose of the Commission is not to determine whether Mr Armstrong, his teammates, or any other racers or cyclists did engage in the use, administration and trafficking of performance enhancing drugs and methods. The Commission is investigation the role of the UCI, not Mr Armstrong, his teammates, or any other racers or cyclists."

The letter adds that the Commission will base its inquiry on the assumption that Armstrong and several of his banned US Postal teammates did engage in doping and the other doping related charges that USADA levelled against him in their reasoned decision.

The Commission's remit presides over eight key elements, each tied to the accountability of the UCI.

1. Whether the UCI did realise, or ought to have realised, what Mr Armstrong and the USPS Team were doing

2. the adequacy of the UCI's anti-doping policy from 1998 to 2012

3. whether Mr Armstrong or the USPS Team made inappropriate payments to the UCI

4. whether the UCI inappropriately discouraged people who had evidence of the activities of Mr Armstrong and the USPS Team, from coming forward

5. whether the UCI adequately co-operated with the USADA investigation

6. whether the UCI the UCI had a conflict of interest between its roles in promoting the sport of cycling, and investigating Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team

7. whether the UCI's current anti-doping controls are adequate and

8. whether people previously involved in doping should be permitted to continue to work within the sport of cycling.

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Daniel Benson