WADA withdraws cooperation from UCI Independent Commission in protest
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

WADA withdraws cooperation from UCI Independent Commission in protest

by Shane Stokes at 5:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Agency says lack of amnesty for witnesses, terms of references and timeframe are of concerns

WADAFollowing a meeting today amongst the three members of the Independent Commission looking into allegations concerning the UCI’s handling of the Lance Armstrong situation, doping in cycling and other matters, the World Anti Doping Agency has announced that it will not play any part in the enquiry.

As reported earlier this week, WADA, USADA and also the Change Cycling Now pressure group had all requested changes to the terms of reference laid out by the commission, with a broadening of those terms to facilitate a more thorough investigation being demanded.

While the UCI Independent Commission told VeloNation today that it was not yet in a position to comment on the outcome of that meeting, it appears clear that WADA was not sufficiently reassured to remain part of the process. It said that requests made to the Commission have not been addressed, and that it will play no further part in the enquiry.

WADA has released a statement saying that it does not have sufficient faith that the commission will be able to adequately investigate the UCI’s role and also be able to fulfil its task without interference.

“Following communication with lawyers representing the Independent Commission set up to look into doping issues that have plagued the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the sport of cycling, WADA has informed the UCI that it has decided not to partake in the inquiry,” the agency stated.

“Over the course of several communications, WADA has shared a number of serious concerns as to the Commission’s terms of reference and its ability to carry out its role without undue influence.

“In particular, WADA is concerned that the scope of the inquiry is too focused on sanctioned former cyclist Lance Armstrong - especially as his case is closed and completed with there being no appeal - and will therefore not fully address such a widespread and ingrained problem.”

It also said that it was concerned about the timeframe laid out for the commission, with the June deadline being described as ‘wholly insufficient,’ and one which will ‘result in a lost opportunity to properly investigate the problem.’

While the Independent Commission members drew up the terms of reference, WADA states that it is troubled by what is laid out in this framework, and also questions the requirement for the UCI to see the results first.

“There is further concern that the UCI has had too much influence over the terms of reference, which calls into question the Commission’s independence,” WADA stated. “The terms of reference were signed off by the UCI and the Commission without consultation with anti-doping authorities, while the requirement for the Commission to deliver its report to the UCI before any other party is unacceptable.”

However perhaps the most worrying aspect is WADA’s assertion that witnesses had no protection against punishment if they did volunteer information.

“Because the Commission does not offer immunity there is no incentive for witnesses to come forward, or to even give witness statements,” it said. “An approach that does not allow individuals to give evidence without the fear of retaliation will merely perpetuate the ‘omerta’ that has been an obstacle to cycling investigations in the past.”

WADA, USADA and Change Cycling Now had requested that these areas all be addressed, but the agency makes clear that it considered those requests to have been ignored.

“Despite these concerns, WADA has been informed that the Commission and UCI are not willing to change the terms of reference and timetable, and for this reason WADA has declined to spend money and dedicate resources on an inquiry that has such obvious limitations,” it said.

It added that it would only reconsider its decision if those concerns are fully met.

Also see: USADA also withdrawing from Independent Commission’s investigation into UCI


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