At the Procedural hearing of the
Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Independent Commission at the Law Society today (Friday, January 25), it was decided that they would adjourn and meet again on January 31 to see if the UCI and WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, could come up with a solution to the problem of a rider amnesty which would allow a Truth and Reconciliation process to take place. In other words, there were no dramatic outcomes in Chancery Lane today.
So, what’s the problem?
The UCI set up and underwrote an Independent Commission to investigate claims in the USADA Reasoned decision into the US Postal Servce team doping practices that it, the UCI, had been involved in cover-ups and been negligent in trying to eradicate doping.
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That sounds fair enough. The UCI didn’t select the legal eagles on the Independent Commission panel then?
No, the Right Honorable Sir Philip Otton (chairman), Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Aussie barrister and IOC member Malcolm Holmes QC were free to ask what they wanted to whom they wanted and set their own terms of reference which the UCI agreed to. At which point they and their legal team went off to ask USADA and WADA for evidence and help. Which, perhaps surprisingly, was not forthcoming. Not from either party and not from any of the riders they contacted “many of whom failed to respond at all”.
Why not? What was WADA’s problem? Why were USADA upset with the Independent trio of truth seekers?
It wasn’t that, rather, those two bodies insisted that it was essential there was an element of Truth and Reconciliation involved in the process, otherwise the report would come up short, with riders and other witnesses refusing to come forward. And, unless there was a Truth and Reconciliation component in the Independent Commission’s report, neither party was willing to participate. The UCI’s trio bought into the idea of Truth and Reconciliation, but the UCI wasn’t so keen.
So the UCI refused to get involved with Truth and Reconciliation?
Yes. And no. The UCI is funding the whole process and says it can’t afford an open-ended Commission which includes a Truth and Reconciliation element. “We’re not as rich as FIFA,” noted UCI president Pat McQuaid, which is true. The UCI is in favour of a new, separate Truth and Reconciliation Commission – working with WADA and other anti-doping agencies – so long as it is part-funded by WADA. The UCI said it wanted a swift result on the USADA accusations and the prospect of a long, complicated and expensive Truth and Reconciliation element would make that impossible. USADA reasoned report first, Truth and Reconciliation later.
So what’s going to happen about the UCI IC report into the USADA accusations?
Ah, yes. The UCI legal team is going to speak to the WADA and USADA legal eagles to try to come up with a compromise this week and, in the meantime, has handed over 16 lever arch files of evidence to the UCI IC trio to examine in the hope that it can come to a conclusion over the USADA Reasoned Report accusations. Given that Lance Armstrong has told the world via Oprah that the UCI wasn’t involved in any cover-ups, you rather imagine that will help pull the curtain down on this, Act I. All of which would clear the way for Act II, in which WADA and the UCI and the rest come up with an amnesty format and riders and managers can talk freely, will – please god – put an end to Generation EPO.
Yes, yes, that’s great, but what happens next? As in, right now?
Well, the barristers and QCs and the rest all get to earn more cash; McQuaid talks to WADA president John Fahey this weekend, they come up with a workable amnesty plan and we meet again on January 31 to see if we really will get a lid put on Act I – the UCI IC report into USADA allegations, by June. I bet you can hardly wait…