Analysis: Why McQuaid’s commitment to a UCI enquiry falls far short of what is needed
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Analysis: Why McQuaid’s commitment to a UCI enquiry falls far short of what is needed

by Shane Stokes at 5:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping, Opinion
 
Tygart: “If that is what they are trying to do, it stinks to high heaven”

Pat McquaidWith exactly thirty days until the UCI presidential elections, the candidates Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson are planning their final build-up to what will be a crucial vote for cycling’s future.

That approach will include representations to the various federations and delegates who will determine the outcome of an election. Both candidates will lay out their visions for the future, drawing on their manifestos as the blueprint for what they promise to achieve.

Cookson unveiled his manifesto on June 24th and laid out a series of goals, with the rebuilding of trust with the UCI at the top of that list.

He also prioritised the transformation of anti-doping in cycling [via the establishment of a fully independent body – ed.], the growth of cycling across the globe and the development of women’s cycling.

In addition to that he has two more goals: the overhaul of elite road cycling and measures to strengthen the sport’s credibility and influence within the Olympic movement.

Cookson argues that the sport needs a clear fresh start in order to move on from the scandals of the past, saying that gaining credibility necessitates the removal of McQuaid as president. Without the election of a new leader for the sport, he says, confidence will not be restored.

As expected, McQuaid rejects the latter notion. He trumpets what his said is a strong track record in the sport, highlighting the measures he says he has introduced, and lists four main manifesto goals of his own.

The Irishman wants to preserve the new culture and era of clean cycling, to ensure equality in cycling through the development of women’s cycling, to modernise the way that cycling is presented as a modern sport and to foster the global development of cycling.

As regards Cookson’s claim that the sport will only be credible once McQuaid is gone, the incumbent UCI leader dismisses the suggestion.

He insists that he has done nothing wrong during his time at the top, and that he has zero to hide in relation to the Lance Armstrong scandal. McQuaid says that his behaviour has been beyond reproach.

He also says that once he is elected, he will work towards an independent audit of the UCI’s dealings with Armstrong and others.

Sounds good? Well, not exactly. Let’s explain why.

Seven months since Independent Commission was dismissed, and where are we now?

Pat McQuaidOn October 26th, 306 days ago, Pat McQuaid pledged that the UCI would do its utmost to restore confidence. Its credibility and that of the sport was at arguably the lowest point in history, and big promises were needed to get the media, the fans and the anti-doping bodies off the UCI’s back.

The way to gain some breathing space and to help ease the pressure was with a needed commitment of transparency. The UCI had nothing to hide, said McQuaid, and it would go to great lengths to prove that.

“As I said on Monday, UCI is determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport,” he stated then, speaking after a crucial management committee meeting in Geneva. “We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the Independent Commission and we will put cycling back on track.”

That promise led on to the establishment of an Independent Commission, chaired by the former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton, and also being comprised of the UK House of Lords Peer and Paralympic Champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and the Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC.

However, exactly seven months ago today, the UCI scrapped that same Independent Commission. Now, over half a year on, the sport appears no closer to finding the truth about what took place during Armstrong’s career.

When that commission was closed down in January of this year, the UCI cited snowballing costs as being one reason. It also sought to blame USADA and WADA for withdrawing their cooperation, although those agencies’ requests for an amnesty for witnesses and a truth and reconciliation-style approach were agreed with and echoed by the commission itself.

On January 16th that commission said that the demands of those agencies were in the best interests of getting at the truth.

“The Commission is of the view that a Truth and Reconciliation process is desirable for the purposes of this Inquiry, and that such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the Commission at its hearing in April 2013,” it said then.

“The Commission is of the view that such a process would be in the interests not only of the Inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole.

“The Commission, via the Solicitors to the Inquiry, has written to the UCI’s solicitors, urging the UCI to reconsider its position.”

Instead, rather than accepting that and acting to make it happen, the UCI closed down the Commission.

It seemed a case of, ‘if in doubt, chuck it out.’ However McQuaid said otherwise, pledging that it would not be the end of the matter.

“We will now focus our efforts on establishing a TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission – ed.], with which we expect WADA to be fully engaged, to look at doping in professional cycling, as well as the allegations contained in the USADA reasoned decision,” he promised. “The work that has so far been undertaken by the Independent Commission will be shared with the TRC.”

Yet in the seven months since then, nothing has happened to advance that investigation. The TRC remains a vague commitment, the notion of an independent review an election promise.

But if McQuaid is held to his word, and if he does ultimately deliver on his manifesto commitment, that’s enough, right?

Not if you look at the details.

What is promised, and how does it differ?

Pat McQuaidAfter the Independent Commission was established, the three individuals concerned drew up the terms of reference.

These terms set out to determine:

1. Whether the allegations against the UCI set out in the Reasoned Decision are well founded.

2. Whether, between 1998 and 2012, the UCI realised that Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team were collaborating to avoid detection in the use, possession, administration and trafficking of performance enhancing drugs and methods, and:

(i) if the UCI did realise, whether it failed to respond appropriately; and (ii) if the UCI did not realise, whether it ought to have done so, and what steps (if any) it should have taken to inform itself of the actions of Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team in order to act appropriately.

3. Whether, and if so, to what extent the UCI’s anti-doping policies and procedures between (i) 1998 and 2005 and (ii) 2005 and 2012, were inadequate or were not enforced with sufficient rigour; and if so, whether the UCI was at the time aware, or ought to have been aware, of such inadequacy or lack of enforcement

4. Whether there was, between 1998 and 2012, any reliable evidence or information in the possession of or known to the UCI regarding allegations or suspicions of doping by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team; and if so, whether there was any failure by the UCI to act appropriately in regard to such information.

5. Whether, when Lance Armstrong returned to racing in 2009, there was a failure by the UCI to detect signs of doping by him, and whether it was appropriate for him to return to and continue racing.

6. Whether payments were made by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team to the UCI, between 1998 and 2012, and if so whether it was appropriate for the UCI to have accepted such payments, or to have accepted them on the basis (explicit or implicit) upon which they were made.

7. Whether the UCI inappropriately discouraged those persons with knowledge of doping by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team from coming forward with such knowledge, and whether the UCI should have done more to encourage such persons to come forward sooner.

8. Whether the UCI adequately co-operated with, assisted in and reacted to the USADA USPS Team Investigation.

9. Whether any persons previously convicted of doping, or voluntarily admitting to doping, or supporting riders in doping, should be able to work within the world of cycling in the future; and, if not, how such a prohibition could and should be enforced.

10. Whether the UCI had a conflict of interest between its roles in promoting the sport of cycling and in investigating or making adverse findings against Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team.

11. Whether the current doping controls of the UCI are adequate and compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and whether those controls can be improved.



Summarising those terms, the Independent Commission sought to extensively examine the UCI’s conduct over the fifteen year timeframe between 1998 and 2012.

It included a commitment to examine the adequacy of the UCI’s anti-doping policies and procedures between 2005 and 2012 [as well as the earlier period], to examine if the UCI knew, or should have known, that Armstrong was doping, if it failed in allowing Armstrong to return in 2009 and if it failed to detect signs of doping by him after this return.

In addition to that – and relating largely to the period after his return – the Independent Commission wanted to determine if the UCI discouraged witnesses from coming forward with knowledge of doping by Armstrong and the US Postal Service team, and if it co-operated with USADA’s US Postal Service investigation.

Contrast that, if you will, with Pat McQuaid’s commitment to an investigation, as pledged in his manifesto.

“I remain committed – as does the UCI Management Committee - to conducting an independent audit into the UCI’s actions during the years when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France. The UCI’s invitation to WADA to work with the UCI on this stands,” said McQuaid.

“If WADA will not, however, work with us, the UCI will press ahead itself and appoint independent experts to carry out this audit.”

In addition to being far shorter on detail, consider the timeframe pledged: ‘…the UCI’s actions during the years when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France.’

In other words, 1999 to 2005.

In other words, just seven out of the fifteen years laid out as necessary to examine by the Independent Commission.

In other words, ending in 2005, the year that McQuaid took over from Hein Verbruggen as UCI president.

Going by the manifesto pledge, the commitment to an independent audit doesn’t actually include the period of time after Armstrong returned, a period when USADA’s Reasoned Decision concluded there was just a million to one chance that he was racing clean.

It doesn’t include the period of time that Michael Ashenden proved that the UCI’s biological passport experts didn’t actually get Armstrong’s data to examine, despite the UCI’s prior insistence that this was the case.

And, most importantly, it doesn’t actually include the timeframe that McQuaid had been in control of the UCI.

Essentially, the UCI president’s commitment to transparency in his manifesto neatly removes the entire eight years that he has been in office from scrutiny.

In changing the timeframe from the 1998 to 2012 span specified by the Independent Commission and limiting it to 1999 to 2005, it effectively frees his presidency of the UCI from examination by outside bodies.

‘If that is what they are trying to do, it stinks to high heaven’

Pat McQuaidContacted by VeloNation about the difference between the pledge and what the Independent Commission itself determined what was necessary to adequately audit the UCI’s handling of the sport, Grey-Thompson said that she did not agree with limiting the timeframe of any investigation.

“I was personally disappointed that the IC wasn't able to complete its work and still believe it is important that UCI and cycling as a whole tackle its past in order to move forward,” she said. “Having an arbitrary cut-off date is not what the sport needs.

“While cyclists are still consistently being asked to justify their performance, it shows that fans and journalists take this matter seriously and it cannot be brushed under the carpet.”

USADA CEO Travis Tygart was even stronger in his reaction to the limitation of an investigation from 1999 to 2005 only.

“If that is what they are trying to do, it stinks to high heaven,” he told VeloNation. “That is right at the point of the retesting of the samples from the AFLD occurred, the Vrijman report, the doping that we demonstrated and the disqualifications in 2009 and 2010. This has to be a broad enquiry going from 1999 onwards from then.”

He said that during the course of USADA’s investigation, the agency determined multiple areas that it felt had to be assessed.

“There were a whole host of questions that needed to be answered. The IO [WADA Independent Observer – ed.] report from 2010 points out a host of them as well. Most importantly, the UCI’s involvement has to be adequately addressed, and their lack of oversight and their approach to this issue.

“That includes right up until the time of our decision [the Reasoned Decision released in October 2012], and the fact that they attempted to obstruct us at every turn. They did what they could do to ensure that the depth of the doping culture, the drug culture in the sport, didn’t see the light of the day.

“Until a full examination of all of that and of all of the action and inaction taken by the UCI is done, no-one should have confidence in the sport going forward.”

McQuaid has said that he is fully committed to an investigation, and that he has nothing to hide. Yet, the seven month void in action since the scrapping of the Independent Commission plus the removal of his entire two terms from the period which would be examined are both deeply worrying.

Both those points raise a number of questions.

Why the difference between what his manifesto promises and what the Independent Commission targeted?

Why have eight years been dropped from that range of dates?

Why has the period of his presidency been excluded from the commitment?

Why is the entire period of Armstrong’s return not covered by McQuaid’s pledge for an audit of the UCI’s behaviour?

How can this stripped-down investigation restore confidence to the sport, and help it move on from before?

The UCI election takes place in precisely thirty days time. McQuaid may well be elected to a third term there, providing he doesn’t fall down in the difficult area of his actual nomination by national federations.

If so, what happens then? What faith can we have that after the delegates have made up their minds, after the dust has settled and after the candidates’ manifestos have moved into the rear view mirror, that the full period of Armstrong’s participation in the sport will be fully – and independently – investigated?

Even if he follows his manifesto to the letter, it seems we can have no faith at all.

In looking at 1999 to 2005 only, ‘the years when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France,’ Pat McQuaid is effectively promising zero transparency for his time as president.

 

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