sport

Critics unhappy with UCI

The decision by the International Cycling Union to disband its own inquiry into the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has been criticised.

The UCI's decision to terminate the independent commission - whose members include Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson - followed weeks of wrangling over its powers and whether those who testified could receive an amnesty.

The central issue concerned two donations by disgraced drugs cheat Armstrong to the governing body, and whether there was any complicity by the UCI in covering up his doping.

Change Cycling Now (CCN), the pressure group set up in November, called for the UCI's leadership including president Pat McQuaid to be removed.

A CCN statement read: "The UCI's unilateral decision to disband the independent commission set up to review the UCI's own management of anti-doping procedures, is a rank and disgraceful manipulation of power by a governing body concerned only with self-preservation.

"Change Cycling Now today calls on the general sport of cycling, its national federations and other global stakeholders to enforce the removal of a manipulative and contemptible administration that is content to drag cycling further into disrepute in order to safeguard the positions of its leaders.

"As soon as it became apparent that the commissioners had escaped its covert control, the UCI simply dismantled the whole process rather than risk being unmasked."

The UCI insist it has switched its focus to a truth and reconciliation commission after the World Anti-Doping Agency and US Anti-Doping Agency said they would take no part in the commission unless an amnesty was offered to witnesses: something the UCI said could not happen.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said last night that WADA's refusal to participate had made the decision to scrap the commission necessary.

He added: "We 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.

"We have therefore decided to disband the independent commission with immediate effect."

CCN founder Jaimie Fuller called the UCI's statement "an odorous mismash of self-serving misinformation".

Fuller, the head of sportswear giant Skins, said: "It is disgraceful and, frankly ridiculous that the UCI now suggests it is saving the whole process by organising its own review of itself and suggesting that it is merely complying with the wishes of others.

"Cycling's future prosperity can only be assured by an administration that cares about the sport rather than itself. There can surely be no doubt that the president and his senior colleagues must now be removed from office."

Independent commission member Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson called on the UCI to disclose all the evidence.

She said: "It was evident early on that the lack of cooperation that the independent commission experienced from key stakeholders would make significant progress difficult and that a wider amnesty was necessary to give cycling a genuine chance for change.

"Having urged the UCI to engage in truth and reconciliation, I am glad that it now publicly acknowledges the need for such action.

"However, I do not believe the creation of a truth and reconciliation process in itself answers the concerns that have been raised.

"I also maintain that is essential that the final process addresses the accusations against the UCI that the independent commission was first appointed to investigate, and which have now been placed indefinitely on hold.

"Confidence in the integrity of the UCI is vital for the sport of cycling. It is essential that they make full disclosure of all documentation and evidence to allow the sport to move on and regain its standing and reputation.

"My hope for cycling is that its key stakeholders can work together in a way that has not been the case in the past as they seek to make the necessary changes to the sport."

The UCI responded by claiming WADA had issued "blatant and aggressive untruths".

McQuaid accused Fahey of having a "personal vendetta" against cycling.

He said: "I am very saddened that it has come to this, but I cannot allow the latest blatant and aggressive misrepresentations contained in WADA's most recent press release to go unchallenged. Mr Fahey is saying one thing in public and quite the opposite in correspondence with me.

"The UCI is perplexed that WADA has now chosen to rebuff and attack the UCI's willingness to establish a truth and reconciliation commission, having just demanded that the UCI establish exactly such a commission.

"We have now reached this sorry juncture because WADA publicly questioned the independence of the independent commission.

"I would therefore urge the president of WADA one more time to try to set his personal vendetta and crusade against cycling aside and to support the UCI in doing what is right for cycling. Our aims are the same: to rid cycling and indeed all sports of the scourge of doping."