WADA states that Armstrong ban could potentially be reduced to less than eight years
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

WADA states that Armstrong ban could potentially be reduced to less than eight years

by Shane Stokes at 6:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Full cooperation necessary before any such concession could be considered

Lance ArmstrongAlthough the WADA Code states that sportspeople with a lifetime ban can have that sentence reduced to no less than eight years in the case of substantial assistance, the agency has said today that there could be scope to provide a further reduction in certain cases.

The rules regarding lifetime bans are in the spotlight at present amid reports that Lance Armstrong’s confession to doping and apparent willingness to provide testimony against others is due to a desire on his part to be able to compete once again.

The New York Times reported earlier today that the Texan is willing to testify against officials from cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, in relation to doping in the sport.

He is yet to comment on the matter, but talk show host Oprah Winfrey has said that he spoke for two and a half hours about a range of topics in the interview carried out on Monday and due to be broadcast on Thursday and Friday.

In that interview, he admitted doping for the first time and ended years of lying about the matter.

Whether or not that interview includes details about others, WADA has said today that is not enough for him to only speak on television.

“WADA has read with interest media reports suggesting a television “confession” made by Lance Armstrong,” WADA director general David Howman said in a statement today.

“While WADA encourages all athletes to come clean about any doping activities they have been involved with or know about, these details must be passed on to the relevant anti-doping authorities.

“Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath – and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities – can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence.”

Several media reports have pointed out that the WADA Code limits the amount of time that can be granted in the event of substantial cooperation. “The extent to which the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended shall be based on the seriousness of the anti-doping rule violation committed by the Athlete or other Person and the significance of the Substantial Assistance provided by the Athlete or other Person to the effort to eliminate doping in sport,” states the Code. “No more than three-quarters of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended. If the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility is a lifetime, the non-suspended period under this section must be no less than eight (8) years.”

However speaking today to VeloNation, WADA spokesman Terence O’Rorke said that there may be further room for manoeuvre.

“Under the WADA code, a lifetime ban can be reduced to eight years. However Mr Howman has said in the past that there may be other ways in the code where it can be reduced further,” he said. “But it is something that the various authorities would have to agree on.”

If Armstrong does indeed provide crucial evidence to advance the fight against doping and is given a reduction, the decision is certain to be a divisive one. While the Texan undoubtedly has information that could prove very important, he has lied for many years, intimidated many within the sport, coerced others to use banned substances and caused considerable damage to cycling.

As a result WADA, USADA and others will likely be very careful in weighing up all the factors and in deciding what incentive could be extended to entice Armstrong to speak. Too little and he may refuse to cooperate; too much and those agencies will be criticised for allowing him back into the sporting arena.

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