By Gregor Brown
Cycling's governing body, the UCI, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) formally announced they will work together on the UCI's inquiry into its past. Overnight, they issued a joint statement after the bodies' presidents met in Johannesburg.
UCI President Brian Cookson and WADA President John Fahey "agreed the broad terms under which the UCI will conduct a Commission of Inquiry into the historical doping problems in cycling," read a statement. "They further agreed that their respective colleagues would co-operate to finalise the detailed terms and conditions of the Inquiry to ensure that the procedures and ultimate outcomes would be in line with the fundamental rules and principles of the World Anti-Doping Code."
It added that the presidents want to work to help cycling "move forward in the vanguard of clean sports."
The UCI's freshly elected president travelled to Johannesburg to meet with Fahey yesterday at the World Conference on Doping in Sport. Cookson pledged in his campaign to investigate cycling's chequered past, which includes allegations of cover-ups and corruption. In his manifesto, he promised a quick and effective process and to work with WADA.
The anti-doping agency welcomed cycling's call after the previous administration led by Pat McQuaid appeared to create barriers. Followers called for change after last year's US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) case that stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life. McQuaid's administration created its own commission but, under fire from USADA and WADA, disbanded it three months later in favour of a truth and reconciliation commission. The truth and reconciliation commission never truly began.
McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen defended a $125,000 donation in 2002 from Armstrong. They said the money went to help buy anti-doping equipment but came at a time when Armstrong was being accused of cheating. Former team-mates, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, explained Armstrong told them that he failed an EPO test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and that the UCI helped him conceal it. McQuaid and Verbruggen deny the story.
Cookson wants to put the allegations to rest by working with WADA, USADA and even Armstrong so that cycling can go forward with a clean slate. According to the AFP news agency, Cookson explained the commission should be up and running by next year. He said, "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."
The Briton also met with USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart and Chairman Ed Moses in Johannesburg. According to the Associated Press, he said the US agency will be an "important partner" in the commission. He also hopes that Armstrong will testify.
"What I am really interested in is the allegations he has apparently made... about the way in which he was given special treatment by the UCI," Cookson told the Associated Press. "If that was true, I'd like to know about it."
Cookson wrote in his manifesto that he wants the commission's findings published within the first six months of his presidency, by March 27. Yesterday he told the Associated Press that he wants its work completed within a year but the he is not setting "a firm deadline."