Monday 29 December 2014

Dubliner Pat McQuaid under increasing pressure after Lance Armstrong inquiry shut down

Martyn Ziegler

Published 29/01/2013 | 17:04

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) President Pat McQuaid (2nd L) arrives for an Independent Commission hearing in London January 25, 2013. The procedural hearing is being held to discuss the Terms of Reference for its enquiry into the UCI, its dealings with Lance Armstrong/US Postal team and the subsequent doping case. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

PRESSURE is mounting on the International Cycling Union's (UCI) leadership with the governing body plunged into fresh controversy for disbanding its own inquiry into the Lance Armstrong drugs scandal.

The independent commission today said neither the UCI nor other stakeholders had provided sufficient co-operation to allow it to function.

Meanwhile, the World Anti-Doping Agency has accused the UCI's leaders of deceit and arrogance for scrapping its inquiry, and the row puts Pat McQuaid, the Irish president of cycling's governing body, once more in the firing line.

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

The central issue of the inquiry 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.

The UCI yesterday announced it was scrapping the inquiry in favour of a 'truth and reconciliation' process. McQuaid claimed WADA had agreed to this - something denied by the agency.

WADA president John Fahey said: "The UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility to the sport of cycling in completing such an inquiry and has determined to apparently deflect responsibility for the doping problem in its sport to others.

"UCI has publicly announced that WADA has agreed to work with it on some form of truth and reconciliation. This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful.

"WADA has not and will not consider partaking in any venture with UCI while this unilateral and arrogant attitude continues."

A statement from the commission also pointed the finger at McQuaid.

It said: "Pat McQuaid stated that the UCI 'will co-operate fully with the commission'... and urged all other interested stakeholders to do the same. Neither the UCI nor interested stakeholders have provided sufficient co-operation to enable the commission to do its job. This failure to co-operate makes our task impossible."

The pressure group Change Cycling Now (CCN) has also weighed in and called for the UCI's leadership including McQuaid to be removed.

A CCN statement read: "The 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."

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".

He added: "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."

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