Thursday 22 February 2018

UCI doping panel includes war crimes investigator

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong

Martyn Ziegler

The international cycling union UCI has appointed three people including a war crimes investigator to sit on an independent commission to look into allegations of wrongdoing in the past.

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) will be chaired by Switzerland's former state prosecutor Dick Marty and will include Peter Nicholson, an Australian who has investigated war crimes for the United Nations.

Professor Ulrich Haas from Germany, a specialist in anti-doping rules who works for the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is the third person on the commission, UCI president Brian Cookson has announced.

The investigation will centre on the UCI's dealings with doping findings and allegations during the late 1990s and early 2000s, including its handling of claims against Lance Armstrong who has since admitted to doping.

Cookson, the former head of British Cycling who beat Ireland's Pat McQuaid in an election for the presidency in September, said he wants the commission's investigation to be completed this year.

The key to the commission's success may hinge on whether Armstrong, McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, UCI president at the time of the Armstrong's seven Tour de France wins, agree to give evidence.

Armstrong said on Twitter that he planned "on co-operating openly and honestly" with any commission that contacts him, adding: "I can also confirm that neither myself nor anyone on my team has been contacted by the UCI or the independent commission."

Cookson said the commission would look into allegations of wrongdoing by the UCI.

He said: "This commission will investigate the problems cycling has faced in recent years, especially the allegations that the UCI has been involved in wrongdoing in the past - allegations which have done so much to hurt the credibility of the UCI and our sport.

"Their work will also be focused on understanding what went so wrong in our sport and they will make recommendations for change so that as far as possible those mistakes are not repeated."

The commission will be assisted by Aurelie Merle, appointed by Cookson in November as the investigation's project director. Merle, who worked for the London 2012 Olympics, has also worked with the IOC and the United Nations.

Cookson said the commission will be given complete access to the UCI's files and electronic data that was seized by private investigators at his instigation within minutes of his election.

He added: "We have agreed a budget for the commission, which the UCI will cover in full, and we have also expressed our wish that its work be concluded this year.

"Other than that, the independent commission based in Lausanne will operate completely independently of the UCI and will organise its work as it chooses."

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