UCI critical of USADA after Tygart alleges it protected Armstrong
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Friday, April 26, 2013

UCI critical of USADA after Tygart alleges it protected Armstrong

by Shane Stokes at 6:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Claims it deserves credit for US Postal investigation as it sanctioned Landis and Hamilton

UCIThe UCI has blasted the US Anti Doping Agency after the latter’s CEO Travis Tygart said that cycling’s governing body protected Lance Armstrong, and that the Texan had evidence of that complicity.

Tygart’s comments were made yesterday during a hearing before the French Senate in relation to the fight against doping. He claimed that he had ‘evidence of the UCI's involvement’ in the Lance Armstrong doping case.

Tygart said that he had been given indications by the Texan as to possible collusion. "Armstrong led us to believe — during the course of our interaction with him — that he had evidence of their complicity in this situation, and of course we've developed additional information that will come out through our process, that I can't comment on right now," he told AP.

At least two of Armstrong’s former team-mates told USADA that the Texan had informed them that he had tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, but that the UCI would ensure that the EPO result would not be a problem.

He paid at least two large donations to the UCI, prompting claims by some that the money could have been a bribe.

The UCI denied this, saying that while the level of EPO detected was close to the threshold and thus very suspicious, that it was not high enough to trigger a sanction. It has rejected any suggestions that the money paid by him was a bribe.

Responding to Tygart’s Senate appearance and his interview with AP, the UCI said today that it ‘categorically rejects allegations of collusion made by USADA CEO Travis Tygart at a French Senate hearing Thursday, and states categorically that it has nothing to hide.’

It said that Tygart was seeking to make headlines and had used a conversation with Lance Armstrong to do so.

“He should establish the facts before jumping to conclusions. The UCI welcomes any assistance and clarification that Lance Armstrong may wish to give Mr Tygart on the matter.”

In the statement it issued today, the UCI rejected Tygart’s statements about the UCI’s abandonment of the Independent Commission it had itself set up to explore its relationship with Armstrong and its handing of the US Postal Service affair.

“It’s all very well Mr Tygart talking about cooperation, but let’s not forget that the Independent Commission was only disbanded because of USADA’s and WADA’s point-blank refusal to cooperate with it. Simply, the UCI was left with no choice but to close it down; it made no sense to go forward without the participation of these two bodies,” said a UCI spokesperson today.

However while WADA and USADA had said in January that they would only cooperate if an terms of reference were broadened and if an amnesty was given to witnesses, their requests for an amesty were also echoed by the Independent Commission members themselves.

They too requested the UCI approve an amnesty for witnesses, saying that the Commission believed it was necessary if it was to be able to do its job correctly. It would protect witnesses and also satisfy the concerns expressed by WADA and USADA.

Despite that Independent Commisison request, the UCI decided to shelve the enquiry.

Now, commenting today, it seeks to portray USADA as the ones with something to hide. “One can only assume that their refusal to cooperate with the Independent Commission was due to their fear that their own shortcomings would be exposed. After all, USADA and WADA also tested Armstrong over many years and also failed to catch him. It was only with the benefit of the US Federal Investigation that USADA was finally able to gain evidence of Armstrong’s doping.

“No attempt by Travis Tygart to rewrite history will change the fact that USADA failed to catch Lance Armstrong having tested him just 49 times during his career. The UCI by comparison tested Armstrong 189 times.”

The UCI itself carried out testing at races such as the Tour of California and some other US events. When USADA attempted to take over that role in 2011, the year Armstrong retired, the UCI initially agreed but then did an about-turn days before the race.

It carried out no blood tests during the race, something that USADA said it had been prepared to do.

In its statement today, the UCI appeared to see credit for the investigation that ultimately saw Armstrong be given a lifetime ban.

“As Mr Tygart himself admitted Thursday in other media reports, it was the UCI in its campaign against doping, not WADA or USADA, which caught Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.

“And it was the UCI catching these two high-profile riders which ended up with them confessing and so enabled the investigation to move against Armstrong.”

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