Cookson in contact with WADA over independent investigation into UCI
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Cookson in contact with WADA over independent investigation into UCI

by Shane Stokes at 7:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Video
Gaudry says that independent anti-doping body is a priority and will be implemented as soon as possible

Brian CooksonTwo weeks after he became the new UCI president, Brian Cookson has said that discussions have begun with the World Anti Doping Agency about an independent investigation into how the governing body acted in the past.

Cookson made the commitment to an external audit into the UCI’s handling of anti-doping matters as part of his manifesto, saying that it was needed in order to move on from the Lance Armstrong affair and general questions over how the governing body acted.

A fortnight after he defeated former president Pat McQuaid, the process to facilitate that review has begun.

“We have started the work of establishing a high level dialogue with WADA to plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI’s past,” said Cookson, speaking from China where he is attending the Tour of Beijing.

“We have also been making contact with other key stakeholders in this area, including USADA, other national anti-doping organisations and the French Sports Ministry.”

He also confirmed that he had contacted Paul Kimmage this week to tell the journalist that he was ending legal action against him that was launched last year by McQuaid and the previous president, Hein Verbruggen.

Kimmage spoke about that in a long interview yesterday, and said that after receiving clarification from Cookson on the matter, that he wished him well in his new role.

“My only reservation about endorsing him [before the election – ed.] was the fact that hadn’t clarified his position on the decision to sue,” he said. “Given he hadn’t clarified that, I wasn’t going to endorse him…absolutely not.

“It goes without saying that I am absolutely thrilled that McQuaid was beaten, and that I am hopeful that Brian can do a proper job.”

Meanwhile Tracey Gaudry, one of three vice presidents appointed to the UCI on the same day as the UCI election, has said that the review plus Cookson’s commitment to handing over anti-doping protocols to a fully independent anti-doping body should be in place within six months.

“'They were important prior to the election and they remain vitally important,” she said of those commitments, which also included the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation-style process. “We will convey our approach as soon as we are able.”

Gaudry was speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald and said there was a matter of urgency to act on the pledges, which should boost the credibility of the sport.

“It's quite fair and reasonable that the cycling community can expect we will prioritise this and we will have the tight processes put in place as soon as we can,” she said. “We do not want to see another six months go by.”

Cookson underlined the importance of knuckling down to what he promised before the election. “These early days are very important for the UCI. We have embarked on the process of implementing our manifesto commitments so that we can re-establish our International Federation’s reputation and make it the best and most respected in the world. I believe that we have made a good start,” he said.

“In Florence, the cycling family clearly demonstrated its desire for change. Not only in voting me as President, but also in electing three excellent Vice-Presidents, including the first woman to occupy this position, as well as a high-quality Management Committee. And we have quickly got down to work.”

He said that many of the new presidents of the UCI Commissions had been appointed, and pointed out that the UCI had now scrapped a strange rule limiting the number of riders over 28 who could form part of teams.

Days after Cookson took up his role, it emerged that the services of long-standing UCI legal counsel Philippe Verbiest would no longer be required. The Briton said today that Antonio Rigozzi of Levy Kaufmann-Kohler has taken up the position of external legal counsel. He also stated that former Director General Christophe Hubschmid had left the UCI.

Both Verbiest and Hubschmid had been seen as close to McQuaid, and appeared to try to help him win the election.

Cookson made a wide number of pledges in his manifesto and appears serious about implementing those. He stated today that an extraordinary meeting of the UCI management committee would be held in eighteen days time, on October 29th, when the progress in implementing those pledges would be assessed.

The meeting will also serve to plan ahead, and will enable the new committee members to meet the staff in the UCI.

He stated that he planned to meet the new IOC president Thomas Bach within the coming weeks, as well as Carlos Nuzman, the president of Rio 2016. He has already talked with Andrew Ryan, the Executive Director of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

“It’s been a busy time but very constructive and I am grateful to all the support I have received from the cycling family in setting out on this new path,” he stated.

Wants McQuaid to cooperate fully with investigation:

Any enquiry into the UCI will be enhanced if McQuaid speaks frankly about their time at the top. Cookson has called on him to do that, stating on the day of his election victory that he wanted him and others to come forward and talk honestly.

“I would urge Pat, as anyone else, to cooperate fully in any investigation that is put underway,” he said then (see video of the conference below). “I am sure that Pat will want to cooperate as fully as possible.”

McQuaid was reported as being the subject of a dossier commissioned by management committee member Igor Makarov before the election. This dossier was never publically released, but was claimed to include proof that McQuaid and the UCI helped shield Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador from doping allegations.

However Makarov and fellow management committee member Mike Plant refused to hand over the dossier to the UCI ethics commission when requested, with the duo claiming that it was not sufficiently independent.

Cookson was asked about this on the day of the election, and said that he believed a rethink on the composition of that commission was necessary.

“To take your first question, yes I do think the ethics commission needs a major review,” he stated then. “We will do that as part of the constitutional review. Clearly I think there was something lacking today. I don’t want to be critical of any individuals, I think people are doing their best, but clearly we need a new structure for that.”

He said that appointing a fully independent anti-doping body was also crucial. Cookson had been asked about the fact that Makarov was a member of the UCI management committee and also head of the Katusha team, and the potential conflict of interest that caused for the UCI in investigating any claims against the Russian squad.

He said that the new anti-doping body would solve any questions about the proximity of the UCI to other entities in the sport.

“In terms of investigating any team, that is exactly why we have to have a totally independent non-UCI body,” he said. “We will still have responsibilities as the international federation and that is exactly why the conducting and the case handling and the selection of events and riders and so on must be handled by an independent body.”


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