Cookson states progress is being made with WADA over truth and reconciliation commission
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cookson states progress is being made with WADA over truth and reconciliation commission

by Shane Stokes at 11:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
UCI president believes investigation into doping will start early next year

Brian Cookson Pat McquaidSeven and a half weeks after he was elected UCI President, Brian Cookson has confirmed that the planned Truth and Reconciliation Commission is moving closer, with talks on the matter progressing well between the UCI and the World Anti Doping Agency.

Cookson confirmed that negotiations about the format of the inquiry were being ironed out and finalised.

“We are very anxious that we agree those terms and conditions with WADA. We're pretty close to agreement now,” he said today from WADA’s World Conference on Doping in Sports, according to AFP.

“I'm very anxious that we do all of this sooner rather than later.”

The UCI originally stated just over a year ago that it would appoint an Independent Commission to look into claims that Lance Armstrong was shielded by the governing body during his career, and also said that it would be able to assess the work of former president Hein Verbruggen, the then-UCI chief Pat McQuaid and others.

A three-member Commission comprising the chairman Sir Phillip Otton plus Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malcolm Holmes QC was announced on November 30th. It began working on the investigation, but was unexpectedly closed down by the UCI in late January.

The UCI sought to blame WADA and USADA for what it said was a lack of cooperation, but the Independent Commission had echoed the two agency’s calls for an amnesty. Without that, there was a serious lack of witnesses coming forward.

McQuaid said that another commission or investigating body would be established, but nothing was finalised before the UCI presidential election on September 27th.

McQuaid was defeated there by Cookson, who had pledged during his election campaign that he would launch an Independent Commission or another similar body to investigate the UCI.

Cookson stated today that he and the UCI believe that something could be in place sooner rather than later.

“I'm hoping to make an announcement in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping that the whole thing will be up and running early in the New Year,” he stated.

He agreed with current WADA president John Fahey that the possible reduction of sanction for Armstrong would depend on USADA, which would ultimately make the decision. It was the agency with jurisdiction over the Texan and handed him a lifetime ban last year after Armstrong indicated he wouldn’t contest the charges.

“He's been sanctioned by the United States anti-doping agencies and the penalties he got from that have been accepted by the UCI and by the wider sporting world," said Cookson.

“And really it's in the hands of the United States Anti-Doping Agency whether they would look at any reduction in that for any further information that he might volunteer.”

Armstrong has recently been pushing for a reduction in sanction, but has still refused to talk to WADA or USADA. They both want him to provide evidence about doping in cycling, plus any other relevant information.

WADA president John Fahey stated yesterday that it would take ‘something close to a miracle’ to see his ban reduced.

However Cookson told AP today that witnesses may need a reason to speak out.

“Some people will come forward and give evidence because they simply want to get it off their chest. Others will not want to do that,” the Briton stated. “So, there has to be some form of incentive and that is one of the things we are working on in the detail with WADA.”

He confirmed that Armstrong would be asked to contribute, referring to claims that Verbruggen, McQuaid and others helped him as being of importance.

“What I am really interested in, I have to say, is the allegations he has apparently made ... about the way in which he was given special treatment by the UCI. If that was true, I’d like to know about it,” he stated.

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