Cookson says Independent Commission members are being finalized, WADA also involved in process
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cookson says Independent Commission members are being finalized, WADA also involved in process

by VeloNation Press at 9:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Says names will be announced in early 2014, whole process could take a year

Brian cooksonUCI president Brian Cookson has said that the governing body is moving ever-closer to finalising the Independent Commission which will look into the sport, and that the names of those who will be part of that commission will likely be released early in the new year.

“We are very close to reaching an agreement with the three members of the commission,” the Briton told Marca. “I will not pre-empt anything, I'd rather make sure first. We have studied people and have chosen them for the position. We are still negotiating and I am confident they will accept.

“We are in continuous contact with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to move in unison. If not, we would return to the situation twelve months ago.”

Cookson’s words are reassuring, given that the UCI’s previous attempt to have an Independent Commission investigation was stymied by a clash between the UCI under former president Pat McQuaid, WADA and the US Anti Doping Agency.

That previous commission was set up after McQuaid pledged last October to have a completely independent audit of the UCI’s actions during the Lance Armstrong era. However it came under pressure due to differences between the UCI and WADA/USADA, with one of the big concerns being an amnesty for the witnesses in order to ensure that they could speak out without fear of punishment.

The UCI refused that request, despite the Independent Commission itself saying that it considered it necessary. The UCI then scrapped the Commission altogether in January of this year.

Cookson made the establishment of a new commission one of his main election promises and, thus far, things appear to be going as anticipated. His statement about working closely with WADA is encouraging given the at-times difficult relation between it and the UCI in the past, and also because it suggests that this time round, the UCI might indeed enable a proper invesetigation to take place.

“It is important that all three are supported by WADA and other anti-doping agencies around the world,” said Cookson, speaking about the three individuals who will form the commission. “I would like to announce them before Christmas, but I think it will have to wait for the new year to know their names. I want them focused exclusively and for this aim, a part of the budget of the UCI will be set aside for it [the investigation].

“That said, it will have its own administration and independence from the UCI. We hope that it will also get support from the media and all the stakeholders.”

Cookson previously said that he didn’t want the Commission to take too long to reach a conclusion, but he now appears to suggest that the final outcome could be as long as twelve months after it gets underway.

“You can’t predict it [how long it could take], it is a process. The most important step is the formation of an independent commission to look into whatever happened in the last ten or fifteen years in our sport. An important role is to investigate allegations that the UCI obstructed positive tests. That may not be true, but we want to make it so that people can believe in this sport.

“I think it can reach a conclusion in a year. Restoring the reputation takes more time. You know that cycling has a big problem with doping, but is not the only sport that has it. Cycling takes its responsibility very seriously and for my part, I will too. Nothing will be left under the carpet.”

Cookson’s words are encouraging, but he sees them as logical. He suggests that many others are also of the same believe, knowing that lasting change is necessary.

“There is a new reality,” he said. “In part, it’s because people are seeing that if this sport is not clean, sponsors or television or the press will not come to it. Everyone is in the same package: without sponsorship, there are no profits; without an income, there is no job. People are beginning to understand this. It is not only moral and ethical: there is an economic part.”

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