David Howman, Director General of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has said his agency would welcome any approach from Lance Armstrong in relation to information he can share on his career and doping in cycling.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by USADA in October of last year but told Cyclingnews that he was willing to cooperate with WADA under the umbrella of a truth and reconciliation amnesty. While WADA have welcomed the sentiment, they have told Cyclingnews that it’s far too early to discuss particular aspects but stressed that an independent commission could be set up.
“I’m happy to talk to Mr Armstrong at any time,” Howman told Cyclingnews.
“If Mr Armstrong is prepared to talk to me in that regard then the sooner the better. That’s my reaction to the interview on Cyclingnews.”
Asked what he would expect Armstrong to share with him and WADA, Howman added: “I would have no expectations from talking to Mr Armstrong. You need to first have the meeting and then listen to what the person has to say. Nor have demands. You deal with it on the moment and see what happens. You shouldn’t confuse emotion with process. The first thing that has to happen is sitting down with Armstrong, then you see what comes. You don’t express expectations and you don’t show emotional attachment. You’ve got to do these things according to what comes from the other person’s mouth.”
Armstrong told Cyclingnews that while he would be willing to talk to WADA, he was not looking for an immediate reduction in his life-time ban. USADA handed the ban to him after their Reasoned Decision which stated that Armstrong and his US Postal team had run the most sophisticated doping programme.
Asked if WADA or an independent commission could have the capacity to reduce Armstrong’s ban, Howman said: “That has nothing to do with me. That has to go back to the tribunal that looks at the issue and then rehear it and then possibly reconsider. That’s up to USADA but they would do it in conjunction with WADA.”
Howman was also concerned with the terms 'truth and reconciliation'.
“Those words bother me a little bit because we’re using words that don’t have meaning in the WADA Code. I’m not comfortable with them, and I’m not comfortable with amnesty. What I am comfortable with is words like substantial assistance which are in the code. And I would think that if you ran a formal commission there are ways with dealing with information that the commission receives to ensure confidentially. What we need in any event, in how it would be paid for or structured, how the information would received and used, you just have to cover all those aspects before you press any green button.”
“There are a few things that need to be done in advance. I’m always thinking but I’m not in a position to talk about my thoughts. Anything is possible. “
As for the structure of any possible commission, WADA hopes that it would independent of the UCI, USADA and themselves. Howman explained that a number of factors needed to be considered with the ideal scenario involving an independent commission based on integrity and for the good of clean athletes.
There is no time frame for such a commission to be convened nor any confirmed location.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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