UCI Independent Commission faces threat of WADA boycott

Thursday, 13 December 2012
By Duncan Mackay

John Fahey London 2012December 13 - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have threatened to refuse to cooperate with the International Cycling Union's (UCI) Independent Commission investigating the sport's doping problem.

A three-member panel, chaired by Former British Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton and assisted by House of Lords Peer and 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes, was set-up last month.

But WADA warned that they have "concerns" about the Commissions's terms of reference.

"I can confirm that WADA has been contacted by lawyers representing the independent commission established by the UCI, cycling's governing body, and has agreed to meet with them in the near future to discuss WADA's possible involvement in the process that has been proposed by the UCI," said WADA President John Fahey.

"However, WADA has some significant concerns about the Commission's terms of reference and has alerted the lawyers representing the commission of its concerns.

"If WADA's concerns cannot be resolved as a result of this meeting, WADA will consider seriously whether it can take part in the Commission's process.

"WADA will make no further public comment on the matter until after the meeting."

If WADA carry through their threat and refuse to cooperate it would be a major blow to the creditability of the UCI's President Pat McQuaid, who has staked his future on the independence of the panel, which has been set-up following the scandal which saw Lance Armstrong banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005.

The fears raised by WADA have coincided with Paul Kimmage, the former Sunday Times journalist who is McQuaid's most outspoken critic, backing the Independent Commission and its composition.

Paul Kimmage at Change Cycling Now press conference December 2012Paul Kimmage claims that the UCI Independent Commission is compsed of "good people...honest people" despite the concerns of WADA 

"I think there's been so much heat on them [the UCI] now that they have to be seen to be doing it right," the former Irish cyclist said in an interview published on the website NY Velocity.

"And when you look at the people they've got there now - Tanni Grey-Thompson and the two guys - they're good people, they're honest people, and they can do a really good job.

"They don't know very much about cycling and they've been given these terms of reference, which I hope are not fixed in stone, so that when it's suggested to them that they need to be broadened, they can be broadened, to include things like the Tour of Switzerland 'positive', and to bring on board a forensic accountant to examine the UCI books, but also outside of that McQuaid and [UCI Honorary President Hein] Verbruggen's finances.

"If they can address those issues, I'll be very, very happy with the Commission."

Kimmage is a member of Change Cycling Now, a pressure group which met for the first time earlier this month and whose main aims are to get McQuaid and Verbruggen to step down at the head of the UCI.

Greg LeMond in front of Change Cycling Now logo 3Greg LeMond's offer to step in as interim President of the UCI has been dismissed as a "PR stunt" by Pat McQuaid

Greg LeMond, the three-time winner of the Tour de France, who is probably the group's most high-profile member, has offered to replace McQuaid on an interim basis.

That suggestion has been publicly riducled by McQuaid, 

"It is a little bit arrogant of Greg to come along and be used - and he is being used - as a PR stunt," McQuaid told Associated Press.

"In all seriousness, this is not the time to be pulling stunts.

"The last 25 years, where has he been?

"Nowhere.

"Not involved in cycling.

"He is outside cycling, shouting at it looking in."

McQuaid claimed he is determined to resist calls for him to resign and that he plans to stand for another four-year term at the next UCI elections in September 2013.

"We had a big crisis," McQuaid told Associated Press.

"We have a perception problem, I know that, but I don't see me stepping down is going to change that perception.

"I need to oversee the action that is going on at the moment."

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


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