Verbruggen could be called before doping inquiry

Brian Cookson and his Independent Commission of Inquiry could invite former UCI head Hein Verbruggen to answer questions after Lance Armstrong alleged that the Dutchman had encouraged a doping cover up in 1999.

Armstrong returned a positive sample for corticosteroids during that year’s Tour de France – his first of seven victories – and provided a back-dated medical certificate in order to cover up doping.

The former rider told the Daily Mail that "the real problem was, the sport was on life support. And Hein just said, 'This is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina, so we've got to come up with something'. So we backdated the prescription."

Verbruggen has always strenuously denied that he facilitated or covered up doping within the sport but he went further and in 2011 claimed that Armstrong ‘never, never, never”  took performance enhancing drugs. In 2012 Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and in January of this year he admitted to using drugs for much of his career. He was served with a lifetime ban by USADA.

The Dutchman has continued to serve as an honorary president of the UCI since 2008, but despite attempting to step away from the sport Armstrong’s allegations could lead Cookson to call his predecessor to an independent – but not legally binding – commission.

"The UCI's Independent Commission of Inquiry is in the process of being set up and we are in advanced discussions with stakeholders on its terms of reference to allow full investigation of any allegations relating to doping and wrongdoing at the UCI," a UCI statement said on Monday.

"The commission will invite individuals to provide evidence and we would urge all those involved to come forward and help the commission in its work in the best interests of the sport of cycling.

"This investigation is essential to the well-being of cycling in fully understanding the doping culture of the past, the role of the UCI at that time and helping us all to move forward to a clean and healthy future."

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