Cycling may enter 2013 with a greater acceptance towards dopers. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will discuss an amnesty in a meeting next week in a bid to help its sport move ahead.
"I think there's room for it and I think the UCI could do well to [introduce it]... It's something which we would look into possibly doing," UCI President Pat McQuaid told the Associated Press.
"It would need to be examined as to how it could be introduced, what would be the parameters of it, what would be the framework in which it's worked, what would be the results afterwards. We have to work in the world anti-doping rules and sanctions."
McQuaid said he would propose an amnesty at a management committee meeting next week in Holland during the World Championships. In the article he did not specify, but the idea would seemingly allow current and former pros to speak openly to help the UCI and national federations in investigations.
Current pros George Hincapie (BMC Racing), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) are said to have testified in the Lance Armstrong investigation. Hincapie retired this month, but the riders may face sanctions even if they have volunteered information freely.
Garmin's general manager, Jonathan Vaughters indicated last week that Vande Velde, Zabriskie and Tom Danielson all doped in the past when they were with other teams.
"If those three help the prosecutor to understand the system then it could make sense. We want to understand the system in which the cyclists are the ones who always pay," the UCI's vice-president, Renato Di Rocco told Cycling Weekly.
Di Rocco also heads the Italian cycling federation (FCI), which is dealing several doping cases. Italy has already offered deals to cyclists who help with investigations. Di Rocco indicated that Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini) helped with known doping doctor, Michele Ferrari.
An amnesty "would help understand the system that's fixed on the cyclist, but also may involve managers, coaches, doctors... The cyclist always pays, though. It could be a way out of this situation."
Some disagree with the UCI's amnesty proposal, including Cédric Vasseur. The Frenchman won two stages of the Tour de France before retiring and presided over the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA). He now commentates for French-speaking television.
"I am totally against that," Vasseur told Cycling Weekly after reading about the UCI's proposal. He said the rules also need to strip riders of their winnings.
"What is important is to follow the rules during the career and respect the others at the time. It makes no sense to flick the others, take the money, the honours, and years after tell everybody that you were a cheater because you are having no other choice."
The rules of a possible amnesty deal will be known after September 19 and 20, when the UCI will hold its a committee meeting.
Doping revelations: Cycling at a turning point
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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