UCI allows for independent investigation and suspends libel case

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The UCI ended one of its darkest weeks by giving its seal of approval to an independent commission to look into corruption allegations. It announced today that it will also suspend its defamation case against journalist Paul Kimmage pending the commission's findings

Following an emergency Management Committee meeting today, President Pat McQuaid said in a communiqué, "We have listened to the world's reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and have taken these additional decisive steps in response to the grave concerns raised."

He went on to say that the UCI today agreed to a "fully independent external commission to look into the various allegations made about UCI." It said that the purpose of the commission would also be to find ways to "ensure that persons caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage."

Following next week, the UCI's Management Committee will announce which sports body will nominate the commission's members and start to agree on the terms.

The commission's formation will appease several critics. Yesterday, the Dutch Federation's president, Marcel Wintels wrote the UCI demanding a commission be formed. Wintels wrote, "More than ever, the UCI must dare to act forcefully."

"It is Critical to everyone involved in the sport, including the UCI itself. An authoritative, independent international truth and inquiry committee with adequate legal measures can thereby serve as an important starting point. Only if we as an international cycling community are willing to take a very critical look to the 'own system', we will be able to build a clean, sportive and credible future."

The International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) and Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) made similar calls.

On Monday McQuaid gave the UCI's approval of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Reasoned Decision, which stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins and banned him for life. It found the Texan doped throughout his career and had the help of a network, including Doctor Michele Ferrari and his teams, US Postal Service and Discovery Channel.

The testimonies gathered by the agency, 11 from Armstrong's former team-mates, contained allegations of corruption. Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton claimed that Armstrong told them that the UCI helped cover up a positive EPO test from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. Claims the UCI has always strongly denied.

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