January 16 - The Independent Commission investigating the doping scandal surrounding the International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced plans for a truth and reconciliation public hearing to aid their inquiry but have been met with fierce opposition by key parties involved.
The Commission, chaired by former British Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton (pictured above), have called on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Change Cycling Now (CCN) and the UCI to participate in the truth and reconciliation public hearing but all four have declined under the current terms of reference.
The three-member Commission, which see Sir Philip assisted by House of Lords Peer and 11-time Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes, says the truth and reconciliation public hearing would see "a full or partial amnesty being offered to riders, team management, or others involved in professional cycling, who confess to past involvement in doping."
The Commission says such a hearing would provide crucial evidence for them and that it is of "great regret" that their request has been denied.
"It is of great regret to the Commission that the UCI, WADA and USADA have not been able to reach agreement to a Truth and Reconciliation process, and that WADA, USADA and CCN have indicated to the Commission that they do not wish to participate in the Inquiry on the present terms of reference," said a statement from the Commission.
"The Commission is of the view that a Truth and Reconciliation process is desirable for the purposes of this Inquiry, and that such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the Commission at its hearing in April 2013.
"The Commission is of the view that such a process would be in the interests not only of the Inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole.
"The Commission, via the Solicitors to the Inquiry, has written to the UCI's solicitors, urging the UCI to reconsider its position."
In the meantime, the Commission has announced plans to hold a public procedural hearing in London in the near future where the issue will be addressed with the UCI.
The date, venue and time of the public hearing will be confirmed shortly while the Commission will use it to consider the scope of the Terms of Reference generally and the current state of the timetable.
"The Commission is of the view that the participation of USADA, WADA and CCN in the Inquiry would assist the Commission, and it hopes that they will give further consideration to participating, and will continue to explore the possibility of a Truth and Reconciliation process directly with the UCI," added the statement.
"In the meantime the Commission encourages any person who does not need the benefit of an amnesty to come forward and give evidence by contacting Geoff Steward of Macfarlanes at [email protected]"
Since being formed in November last year, the Commission has had a series of problems in gaining the cooperation due to their terms of reference.
WADA claimed that they had some "significant concerns about the Commission's terms of reference" but the Commission will hope to solve the problem at their public hearing.
The latest announcement comes after Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his professional cycling career in his exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The disgraced American forced the doping scandal under the spotlight last year when he was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after USADA released a damning, 1,000-page report, claiming he had been involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".
Winfrey said that "the most important questions and answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered" in the interview - which is due to be aired tomorrow.
The interview is set to put the UCI under increased pressure, although they have been vague on the issue.
"The UCI will not be making any further comments on matters concerning Lance Armstrong until it has had the opportunity to view his much publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey," said a UCI statement.
"The UCI notes the media speculation surrounding the interview and reports that he has finally come clean and admitted doping during his cycling career.
"If these reports are true, we would strongly urge Lance Armstrong to testify to the independent commission established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the recent USADA reasoned decision."
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and former WADA President Dick Pound has suggested that cycling could actually be dropped from the Olympics if Armstrong implicates the UCI in a cover-up.
"The only way it [cycling] is going to clean up is if all these people say 'hey, we're no longer in the Olympics and that's where we want to be, so let's earn our way back into it," Pound said.
"The IOC would have to deal with it [because the UCI] is not known for its strong actions to anti-doping."
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