WADA President Fahey blasts UCI over impeding of Independent Commission’s investigation
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

WADA President Fahey blasts UCI over impeding of Independent Commission’s investigation

by Shane Stokes at 5:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Disagrees with UCI, says there is no barrier to granting an amnesty to riders who are providing evidence

John FaheyWADA president John Fahey has said that the UCI is resorting to attack others rather than deal with the ‘obvious problems’ which exist in the sport of cycling, and that the governing body is deliberately dragging its heels in relation to the Independent Commission’s enquiry.

The Australian was responding to yesterday’s press release by the UCI, which called into question the legality of the Truth and Reconciliation and amnesty which WADA, USADA, Change Cycling Now and indeed the Independent Commission itself had called on the UCI to implement.

Those groups had all pointed out that the threat of punishment meant that many witnesses were afraid to come forward, but the UCI refused to yield on the matter. It claimed that WADA’s own Code would compel the UCI or others to take action against those who admitted to doping; this is something that Fahey describes as inaccurate in a long statement issued today.

“WADA has always been ready and available to discuss any program,” he said, referring to an amnesty for witnesses. “WADA is on record stating this as far back as October 2012. No approach has been made by the UCI to WADA either in the aftermath of the USADA decision, in the establishment of the Commission, nor having heard of the USADA proposal. Now WADA reads of an approach - which never actually happened - through the UCI press release.

“Had the UCI approached WADA to discuss such an amnesty then it would have been advised that such a process would be possible to implement with the approval of WADA’s Foundation Board. The President of the UCI [Pat McQuaid – ed.] was present in his capacity as a then member of the WADA Foundation Board at its meeting in November 2012 and did not raise the issue.”

WADA, USADA and CCN withdrew their cooperation from the Independent Commission this week over the UCI’s refusal to allow a Truth and Reconciliation process. Each suggested that they might re-engage if the UCI allowed a proposed structure in this regard – which would be paid for by WADA and USADA – but the governing body turned down that request yesterday.

Fahey explains the reason why his agency is walking away. “WADA has decided not to take part and invest its limited resources into such a questionable and useless exercise,” he said. “Having announced that on Tuesday WADA was surprised to see the UCI reaction and attacks on WADA. It has again become apparent that rather than deal with the obvious problems that exist within the sport of cycling, the UCI once again would like to avoid its responsibilities and instead seek to blame WADA and others.

“This is not the first time that the UCI has acted in this way. In 2005 when an opportunity arose to address an allegation of doping by Armstrong, the UCI commissioned a so-called independent report – the Vrijman Report - which totally failed to address the substance of the allegations against Armstrong.”

The Vrijman report was set up to investigate a report stating that a reanalysis of Lance Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France samples had provided firm proof that he had used EPO to win the race. That report ended up absolving Armstrong of all blame and criticising WADA and others.

Yesterday’s release by the UCI followed a similar tack in that it appeared to try to shift the blame for Armstrong’s long-term doping on the sport to USADA, WADA and other agencies which were unable to detect his use of banned substances.

Fahey points out that the USADA Reasoned Decision included allegations that the UCI or others with prior knowledge of tests may have warned Armstrong and his team about imminent controls, allowing them to evade detection.

Indeed, UCI testers allowed the Astana team almost an hour before following through on what should have been a surprise test during the 2009 Tour de France. The testers arrived at the team hotel but then had coffee with staff, enabling the riders to have considerable time before having to provide samples.

“It has become typical of the UCI to point fingers at others when yet another doping controversy hits the sport of cycling,” Fahey blasted. “WADA has recognized for some years the limits of science, but science is not the only element in an effective anti-doping program. The way controls are undertaken by the responsible anti-doping organization (in this situation the UCI), the alleged insider information provided in this sport to the cyclists, the suggestion of warnings being given to cyclists before the testers arrive, and many other matters raised by the USADA report, and by others, can clearly reduce the effectiveness of a testing program and lead to negative test results.”

He concluded that the Independent Commission is being hamstrung by the UCI’s approach to the situation, and that the transparent investigation it said it would undergo is not being allowed to happen.


The full statement is below:


WADA response to UCI press release on Independent Commission: Statement from WADA President John Fahey:

WADA is compelled to respond to a number of misleading statements in the UCI press release of January 16, 2013.

It is first necessary to point out that it was the UCI which in December 2012 set up a so-called Independent Commission to inquire into allegations and statements made in the USADA decision on Lance Armstrong concerning the complicity of the UCI and its officials in doping, and generally the manner in which the UCI has conducted its anti-doping program.

The UCI set up its Independent Commission without any consultation with WADA, or USADA, settled the Commission’s terms of reference, and fixed the timetable for the Commission to report.

After careful review of the terms of reference and the Commission’s proposed work program, WADA reached the conclusion that the UCI was not allowing the Commission to conduct a proper and independent investigation.

Therefore, WADA has decided not to take part and invest its limited resources into such a questionable and useless exercise. Having announced that on Tuesday WADA was surprised to see the UCI reaction and attacks on WADA. It has again become apparent that rather than deal with the obvious problems that exist within the sport of cycling, the UCI once again would like to avoid its responsibilities and instead seek to blame WADA and others.

This is not the first time that the UCI has acted in this way. In 2005 when an opportunity arose to address an allegation of doping by Armstrong, the UCI commissioned a so-called independent report – the Vrijman Report - which totally failed to address the substance of the allegations against Armstrong.

The shortcomings of the Vrijman Report were obvious at the time, and more so today. This new Commission had a chance not to repeat that mistake but regrettably is not being permitted to do so.

The Independent Commission itself acknowledges the need for the UCI to agree to some form of truth and reconciliation in order for the Commission to properly carry out its work. This alone will incentivize witnesses to appear without fear of the zero tolerance approach clearly indicated by the UCI to any person acknowledging doping. The UCI is in effect stopping any individual from freely giving evidence through fear of providing the truth, and thereby losing a job, a contract or any future in the sport. The UCI should regret that.

It is not WADA that initially proposed an amnesty but USADA. USADA, on request from the Independent Commission, drafted a protocol on how this could be achieved. This was submitted by the Independent Commission to the UCI and subsequently rejected by the UCI. WADA was never approached by the UCI to discuss how it could be achieved and only recently received a letter from the UCI counsel indicating that the UCI would not consider it for this Commission, and would only consider taking part in such a process if it was to involve all endurance sport.

In the same letter the UCI indicated that it was not changing the timelines of the Independent Commission. This means that any attempt to adopt a form of amnesty as proposed by USADA would be practically impossible.

The timing for the end of April 2013 seems obviously to be dictated by the UCI electoral calendar and not by any willingness to remedy issues which prevail in the sport of cycling.

WADA has always been ready and available to discuss any program. WADA is on record stating this as far back as October 2012. No approach has been made by the UCI to WADA either in the aftermath of the USADA decision, in the establishment of the Commission, nor having heard of the USADA proposal. Now WADA reads of an approach - which never actually happened - through the UCI press release.

Had the UCI approached WADA to discuss such an amnesty then it would have been advised that such a process would be possible to implement with the approval of WADA’s Foundation Board. The President of the UCI was present in his capacity as a then member of the WADA Foundation Board at its meeting in November 2012 and did not raise the issue.

It has become typical of the UCI to point fingers at others when yet another doping controversy hits the sport of cycling. WADA has recognized for some years the limits of science, but science is not the only element in an effective anti-doping program. The way controls are undertaken by the responsible anti-doping organization (in this situation the UCI), the alleged insider information provided in this sport to the cyclists, the suggestion of warnings being given to cyclists before the testers arrive, and many other matters raised by the USADA report, and by others, can clearly reduce the effectiveness of a testing program and lead to negative test results.

There is no question that the system put into place by Armstrong and others was sophisticated, but the USADA decision raises many other questions that remain unanswered. For the UCI to say it knew nothing about the systemic doping in its sport and could do nothing more is precisely what the Independent Commission should be inquiring into, provided all the evidence is made available to it. WADA has no confidence that this will occur.

By suggesting a wider truth and reconciliation process, the UCI is again attempting to deflect attention from its own responsibilities, which are for those of cycling.

WADA has already announced that it will not be taking part in the Independent Commission, and the UCI’s failure to address the concerns raised by WADA and other invited parties is further proof of the Commission’s lack of independence and limited terms of reference.

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