By Tom Degun

Pat McQuaid head and shouldersJanuary 29 - Pat McQuaid, President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), has been accused of being "deceitful" by the head of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after the decision to scrap the Independent Commission it set up to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The claim by John Fahey, President of WADA, puts the Irishman under unprecedented pressure as his decision to replace the Independent Commission with a "truth and reconciliation process" brought almost universal condemnation from those involved in the process. 

"WADA is dismayed by the press release issued by UCI yesterday, both in terms of its content and its deceit," said Fahey.

"The Independent Commission established by UCI was intended to review the allegations of complicity of UCI in the Lance Armstrong doping conspiracy as raised by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) in its thorough decision.

"Instead UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility to the sport of cycling in completing such an inquiry and has determined to apparently deflect responsibility for the doping problem in its sport to others."

The UCI had announced late last night that the Independent Commission was being disbanded and replaced by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after WADA and the USADA declined to speak with the body over fears that it was being controlled by the sport's world governing body.

The move came after the three-member Commission, made up of chairman Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes, were locked in fierce debate with UCI lawyers at a confrontational procedural hearing in London last week.

"It has decided to terminate its own Commission on the grounds that others refuse to participate, and not for any reason that the Commission was precluded from operating transparently and without fear," said Fahey.

"WADA was not part of the decision to establish such a {Independent] Commission, it was not even consulted.

"When asked to participate, WADA was at pains to point out the inadequacies of the terms of reference and the timelines.

"The Commission's lawyers agreed to point those out in order to remedy them.

"These were not addressed by UCI or the Commission so WADA declined to participate."

John Fahey in front of WADA logoWADA President John Fahey has launched a bitter attack on UCI chief Pat McQuaid

Among the issues that WADA raised, Fahey said, were that the Armstrong case was decided and could not be re-litigated, the timelines for the evidence were unrealistic,the process for hearing witnesses and receiving evidence had to be such that none feared retribution and the findings of the Commission were to be made public immediately and not subject to any prior scrutiny and editing by UCI.

"These were all rejected by UCI without discussion," said Fahey. 

Fahey claimed that even then WADA were prepared to continue discussions.

"However, instead of any continuing professional dialogue with WADA's President, UCI has publicly announced by way of a press statement that WADA has agreed to work with it on some form of truth and reconciliation," he said.

"This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful.

"The fact is that WADA was awaiting a reply to the correspondence when the UCI release was delivered."

Fahey also sent a coded message that they will refuse to cooperate with the UCI while McQuaid remains in charge.

"WADA has not and will not consider partaking in any venture with UCI while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues," he said. 

The decision to scrap the Commission, which was only set up last November, has also been attacked by Change Cycling Now (CCN), the high-profile pressure group that was formed last year in a bid to rid the sport of doping and had been invited to take part in the process by the Independent Commission. 

"The UCI statement is an odorous mishmash of self-serving misinformation," said CCN founder Jaimie Fuller.

"It's a severe and disgusting manipulation of the truth.

"It is disgraceful and frankly ridiculous that the UCI now suggests it is saving the whole process by organising its own review of itself and suggesting that it is merely complying with the wishes of others.

"That is not the case and it is further evidence that the UCI has never had any intention of wanting to get to the truth.

"Cycling's future prosperity can only be assured by an administration that cares about the sport rather than itself.

"There can surely be no doubt that the President and his senior colleagues must now be removed from office."

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart has also expressed huge concerns about the UCI's handling of the affair.

travis-tygartUSADA chief executive Travis Tygart has expressed concerns about the UCI’s handling of its Independent Commission

"We support a well-structured truth and reconciliation process but the UCI cannot be allowed to script its own self-interested outcome in this effort," said Tygart.

"The UCI blindfolded and handcuffed its Independent Commission and now hopes the world will look the other way while the UCI attempts to insert itself into the investigation into the role it played in allowing the doping culture to flourish."

The Commission itself released a short statement today in which they took a parting shot at the UCI for obstructing their work

"The Commission remains concerned as to WADA's and the UCI's ability to agree the scope, timing and structure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also whether the Truth and Reconciliation process is sufficiently advanced to justify the UCI's termination of this Inquiry," said the Commission's statement.

"When this Commission was announced, Pat McQuaid stated that the UCI 'will cooperate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their inquiry' and urged 'all other interested stakeholders to do the same'.

"Neither the UCI nor interested stakeholders have provided sufficient co-operation to enable the Commission to do its job.

"This failure to cooperate makes our task impossible.

"Therefore, the proposed hearing on 31 January 2013 will not take place.

"The evidence which has been gathered by the Commission will be retained by Macfarlanes for use by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission once established."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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