Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson to join Commission to investigate UCI

Friday, 30 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Sir Philip OttonNovember 30 - Britain's Sir Philip Otton is to chair the Independent Commission, which includes Paralympic legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, investigating the role of the International Cycling Union (UCI) in the Lance Armstrong scandal, it was announced today. 

Sir Philip and Baroness Tanni, arguably Britain's best ever known Paralympian, will be joined on the Commission by Australian lawyer, Malcolm Holmes.

Sir Philip (pictured above), a retired Court of Appeal judge, will hold a two-week hearing in London next April that will examine issues and allegations raised in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report that saw them ban Armstrong for life for taking performance-enhancing drugs and stripping him of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005. 

Following this hearing the Commission will provide the UCI with its report and recommendations.

The UCI had announced in October that they would establish a fully independent external Commission to investigate allegations contained in the USADA report on Armstrong, including that they covered up a positive drugs test involving the American cyclist in 2001.

Lance Armstrong indicating seven Tour de France titlesLance Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles following an investigation by USADA

Australia's John Coates, the President of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), had been asked by the UCI to put together the Commission. 

The Commission will hold its hearing between April 9 and April 26 and hopes to submit its report to the UCI by June 1. 

London law firm Macfarlanes LLP will act as legal advisors to the Commission, and they have instructed Guy Morpuss as its lead counsel.

They will also be instructing a firm of forensic accountants and medical experts to act as expert advisors to the Commission.

The Commission will have the right to gather evidence from whoever it wants, including current and former UCI employees.

In theory it could even ask Armstrong to appear before them, although he would be under no obligation to do so and it is extremely unlikely he would be willing to cooperate. 

Sir Philip has plenty of experience in the field of sports law.

He is a judge of the International Court of Appeal for cases relating to Formula One and he has served as an arbitrator in disputes involving English Football Premier League players and clubs, chaired Football Association disciplinary proceedings, and has served as sole mediator in disputes relating to Formula One racing companies and the 2007 America's Cup.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson addressing audienceBaroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is now a Peer in the House of Lords, where she has widespread respect

Grey-Thompson has no formal legal training but is one of the most revered figures in British sport having won a total of 16 medals in the Paralympics, including 11 gold, between Seoul in 1988 and Athens 2004.

In 2009 she chaired a wide-ranging review doping review of UK Athletics, which led to a toughening of sanctions for British athletes who failed drugs tests. 

The 43-year-old Grey-Thompson currently sits as a crossbencher in the House of Lords, where she has earned wide respect. 

Holmes, who is based in Sydney, has acted as an arbitrator with the CAS for Sport since 1995 and was a member of the Ad Hoc Division of CAS at the Olympics in Athens 2004 and Turin 2006.

A special website for the Commission is also to be set up and is due to become live at www.UCIIC.org on Sunday (December 2). 

The UCI plans to appoint a team of lawyers to represent them at the hearing, which could determine the future of its Irish President Pat McQuaid, who is under increasing pressure from critics to resign as head of the organisation.

Pat McQuaid leaving press conference 2
Pat McQuaid's position as President of the UCI is under pressure because of the Lance Armstrong scandal


"I am grateful to John Coates, President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport, for assembling such a high calibre and truly Independent Commission," said McQuaid.

"The wide ranging Terms of Reference demonstrate the Commission's determination to review fully the issues contained in the USADA report and I welcome that.

"As I have said previously, the Commission's report and recommendations are critical to restoring confidence in the sport of cycling and in the UCI as its governing body.

"We will cooperate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their Inquiry and we urge all other interested stakeholders to do the same.

"We will listen to and act on their recommendations."

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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