Despite initial December deadline, UCI Independent Commission invites further witnesses to speak
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Despite initial December deadline, UCI Independent Commission invites further witnesses to speak

by Shane Stokes at 12:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Meeting tomorrow will consider requests by WADA and others to broaden Terms of Reference

UCI Independent CommissionAlthough it initially set a deadline of December 31st for witnesses to get in contact in relation to its assessment of the UCI’s role in relation to Lance Armstrong, the USADA investigation and other matters, the UCI Independent Commission has confirmed that it is still inviting people to come forward at this point in time.

“The commission is still very willing to receive evidence from witnesses,” Geoff Steward of Macfarlanes, the legal adviser to the Commission, told VeloNation. “The important thing is that the Independent Commission gets all of the evidence. If witnesses are out there and have information, we’d like to speak to them.”

He confirmed that such information would be treated in confidence. “As laid out in the procedural guidelines that were released before, all evidence is received as confidential and will only be used to the extent that permission has been given by the witness.”

Evolution of enquiry:

On October 26th the UCI confirmed that Armstrong would lose his seven Tour de France titles when it said that it wouldn’t contest USADA’s sanctions against the American. It also announced then that it would set up an Independent Commission ‘to look into the various allegations made about UCI relating to the Armstrong affair.’

Then on November 7th it then announced that it had invited John Coates, President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), to give recommendations as regards the composition and membership of the independent commission.

He duly did so, and on November 30th the three individuals to act on the commission were named. They are former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton, who is chair, UK House of Lords Peer and Paralympic Champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and the Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC.

In the provisional timetable laid out on December 4th, the 31st of that month was initially listed as the deadline for witnesses to come forward. Other important dates were also laid out, including a projected submission date of the report of June 1st, or shortly thereafter.

The first of those dates has now been relaxed somewhat, with witnesses invited to contact the commission by either email or post and to provide any relevant information which they may have.

Push to modify terms of reference:

The three commission members will hold a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss a range of topics. While Steward was reluctant to go into details, VeloNation understands that one of the subjects on the agenda is the terms of reference laid out by the commission, plus requests by WADA, USADA and also the Change Cycling Now group to see those terms modified.

All have been in discussion with the Independent Commission’s lawyers about this topic. While those groups declined to comment at this point in time, WADA president John Fahey already made his feelings clear on December 13th.

“WADA has some significant concerns about the commission’s terms of reference and has alerted the lawyers representing the commission of its concerns,” he said then. “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.”

It is thought that the terms of reference are seen by the three groups as too restrictive in some areas. The Independent Commission members drew up those terms but VeloNation understands that even if they agree that modificiations would help make the investigation a more effective one, the UCI will likely still need to give a green light to such changes.

In that light, tomorrow’s meeting, its outcome and the events which follow may prove important in relation to the future involvement of WADA and others in the process, and ultimately the credibility of the investigation.


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