By Nigel Wynn
Cycle sport's global governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), has disbanded the Independent Commission set up to investigate the allegations made against it by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in its report on doping within Lance Armstrong's US Postal team.
The USADA report had said that the UCI had been involved in covering up positive dope tests and had not done all it could to prevent widespread doping within professional cycling.
The move to disband the Independent Commission (IP) comes after its investigation stalled due to the non-co-operation of both USADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The IP had been due to produce a report of its findings in June.
The UCI will instead create a new Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that will seek to gather information about doping and come up with a way to prevent it.
"We have listened carefully to the views of WADA, USADA and cycling stakeholders and have decided that a truth and reconciliation process is the best way to examine the culture of doping in cycling in the past and to clear the air so that cycling can move forward," said UCI president Pat McQuaid.
"Over the weekend I spoke to John Fahey, President of WADA. He confirmed WADA's willingness to help the UCI establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as saying that WADA had no confidence in the existing Independent Commission process.
"Given this development, the UCI Management Committee today decided that the federation could no longer fund a procedure whose outcome is likely to be rejected by such an important stakeholder. We have therefore decided to disband the Independent Commission with immediate effect."
Last week the UCI had handed over 16 lever arch files of evidence to the IP during a hearing held in London. However, the IP panel of Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malcolm Holmes QC had stated during the hearing that not only had they been unable to gain the co-operation of USADA and WADA, but they had struggled to get a response from many of the riders they contacted due to the lack of an amnesty. In other words, they were finding it hard to gather any sort of meaningful information.
The UCI management committee stated that it decided to disband the IP before this week's second hearing "when it was clear that WADA and USADA would not co-operate with it and thus any final report would be dismissed as not being complete, or not credible". It also said that the 'six-figure sum' saved from legal fees could be put to better use.
The big question still remains as to how the TRC will be funded by the UCI now that WADA has apparently refused to contribute. "This is something that will be discussed fully at the management committee meeting on Friday. I would stress that, while I am committed to a TRC, it needs to be a process which is in the best interests of our sport and our federation - and which also does not bankrupt it," said McQuaid.
After the failure of the IP, the UCI could face further embarassment if they cannot muster the funds to form an effective Truth and Reconciliation process to take a major step forward in both cleaning up cycling for good and restoring the credibility of the organisation.
The UCI's full statement can be found on its website.
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