UCI at loggerheads with Independent Commission over Armstrong inquiry
Friday, 25 January 2013
January 25 - Friction between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Independent Commission set up to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping scandal emerged publicly here today as their confrontational procedural hearing was adjourned until next week.
The hearing saw the three-member Commission, made up of chairman Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes, locked in fierce debate with the UCI's chief legal aid Ian Mill QC for the vast majority of the public hearing.
The hearing saw Mill call for the Commission's investigation into the doping scandal to be suspended or even stopped permanently due to the fact that the UCI want a body with wider remit to investigate the issue.
Sir Philip said that no decision would be made on the matter until next week, with the hearing adjourned until next Thursday (January 31).
The Commission also admitted "huge concern" over the UCI's dealing with the situation so far.
"It is blindingly obvious that there is immense public interest in determining why and how Lance Armstrong and his US Postal Service team were able to engage in systematic doping for so long without detection or sanction," he said.
"We understood that was also a concern of the UCI.
"But, cards on the table, the UCI's attempts to delay this process are of huge concern."
Mill angrily reacted as he said: "We're not the bad guys, we're not trying to kill this enquiry, we set you up."
But this promoted a sharp response from Sir Philip as he said: "Now you want to knock us down."
The Commission also expressed huge concern at not having received any documentation requested by the UCI.
"It amazes me that we've had no documents whatsoever," said Baroness Tanni, despite Mill insisting that the UCI had "no desire to suppress or conceal any documents".
Mill continued that the proposed truth and reconciliation public April hearing will now almost certainly not go ahead with so many delays to the investigation and that the report of the findings of the Commission will not be ready for the June 1 deadline following objections to the process from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The Commission had originally called on WADA, USADA and pressure group Change Cycling Now (CCN) to participate in the truth and reconciliation public hearing, under a full or partial amnesty, but all three declined under the current terms of reference, stating their fears that the UCI are controlling the Commission and blocking moves for amnesty.
Mill said the UCI was open to a truth and reconciliation process but subject to changes to the WADA Code to allow an amnesty to be offered to those testifying.
"The UCI has accepted that a truth and reconciliation process was one they wish to engage with, notwithstanding that it was limited to the problems of doping in the sport of cycling," he said.
"WADA has accepted that its Code would require to be changed so as to enable the sort of amnesty to be offered which would be likely to result in important evidence being made available.
"We have asked WADA to tell us how and when such a change to the Code can be achieved."
Mill added that the Commission appeared to envisage such a truth and reconciliation process forming part of their enquiry, but that might not be the case.
"That was not what this [independent] enquiry was designed to do," he said, pointing out that the UCI had spent a considerable sum on the Commission and funding another longer and broader one was beyond the resources of the UCI alone.
"If others, in particular WADA, are being asked for help to fund the process then they have to have the opportunity to discuss and agree with us the process itself and we envisage that.
"It therefore does not follow that this commission will ultimately be involved in that process."
UCI President Pat McQuaid, who was in attendance, spoke outside afterwards about how funding the Commission "had been very expensive" but tried to play down the rift.
"There was friction there but I think the Commission understands what cycling needs," he said.
"This is an unprecedented situation and we are trying to work through it."
McQuaid also backed himself yet again as UCI President as he said: "I have no intention of resigning, I have done nothing to warrant that."
It appears McQuaid will now push for the Commission to close down before a jointly-funded Commission is set up with a wider remit to investigate doping.
January 2013: UCI Independent Commission procedural hearing in London postponed due to snow
January 2013: UCI is controlling Independent Commission, insists Change Cycling Now
January 2013: UCI Independent Commission face opposition in plans for truth and reconciliation public hearing
December 2012: Exclusive - Group dismissed by UCI President as "agitators" given top status by Independent Commission
December 2012: UCI Independent Commission faces threat of WADA boycott