By Tom Degun in the Sofitel Hotel at London Heathrow

John Fahey 2February 12  - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey claimed his organisation would be happy to conduct an independent inquiry into cycling following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal that has plagued the sport but warned the world governing body must stay out of it and stop dictating terms.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) were widely criticised for setting up their own Independent Commission at the end of last year before quickly disbanding it last month after key stakeholders refused to cooperate with it due to fears it was being controlled by them.

The UCI have since stated their aim to create a Truth and Reconciliation process in conjunction with WADA, with UCI President Pat McQuaid sending a letter to Fahey on the issue this week.

But Fahey claimed the letter showed the UCI are still trying to dictate the process which stops it being trusted or independent.

Fahey claimed if the UCI are serious about cleaning up the sport, they should hand over the process fully to WADA so an independent investigation can take place.

Pat McQuaid 2UCI President Pat McQuaid has tried to dictate the terms of a Truth and Reconciliation process to WADA

"We have always indicated that we have an open mind on how a cycling inquiry might go forward to the extent where the UCI said they want to work with us to create Truth and Reconciliation," Fahey told insidethegames at WADA's annual media symposium here.

"If there is a problem in cycling, and there probably is, it needs to be fixed.

"The UCI certainly thought there was a problem because they wanted an independent inquiry but they established that in a manner that was most unsatisfactory.

"They also recognised it was most unsatisfactory and then simply disbanded it.

"If they want to go forward now then they ought to ask us, as the custodian of the [World Anti-Doping] Code, to conduct the inquiry.

"We believe an independent inquiry can be instigated by WADA under the existing Code, without any changes to it, as long as the UCI agree to do three things.

"One, the UCI must pay for it, because it is their problem and not ours.

"Two, the UCI need to give a guarantee to all of their employees that there will be no retribution if they give full and frank information that they may have, including information against the UCI if it is relevant.

"Three, any inquiry has to examine the governance and management of the UCI if there is to be confidence given back to the sport of cycling.

"The UCI simply has to step back and ask an independent, international body like WADA to conduct this.

"So don't come to us, like they have been, and say we'll work up the conditions of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"They have to step back and say, 'You do it, we'll subject ourselves to it.'

"The Code currently gives a 75 per cent reduction in penalty for substantial assistance which gives real incentive for riders to come and speak out.

"So there is no problem with the Code.

"The Code is good enough to get Lance Armstrong convicted and banned for life when 11 other riders came forward so we know its strength.

"So they are the factors involved at the moment but we have been saying all this to the UCI for many, many weeks and they keep telling us - yes telling us - what they are going to do with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"But they can do nothing and why should they be allowed to do anything if they are serious about fixing their sport.

"It should be the job of someone else so that it is fully independent."

Undoubtedly one of the key witnesses in any inquiry would have to be Hein Vebruggen, the UCI President during the height of the Armstrong scandal and also a prominent International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at the time.

Hein VerbruggenFormer UCI President Hein Vebruggen, who was in charge of cycling during the Lance Armstrong doping era, will be key in any inquiry into the sport’s doping problems

The Dutchman remains the UCI Honorary President, as well as President of the influential SportAccord.

"I don't know if Hein Vebruggen should be the star witness," said Fahey.

"He was clearly head of the administration of cycling at a time when we now know there was significant cheating going on.

"He's the person who is front and centre of this period of the sport but what he knows and what he might say in an inquir, I have no idea.

"All I can say is that we can set up the independent inquiry; cycling has to release its employees from any restrictions it currently has on them and we hope that key information will be forthcoming under the incentives that the Code currently provides.

"That will allow us to get to the bottom of what is wrong with cycling, or to prove that nothing is wrong for all I know.

"But cycling seems to be constantly lurching from crisis to crisis and the UCI must fix that for the good of the sport and everyone that enjoys it."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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