Panel to study UCI-Armstrong 'collusion'

May 23, 2013, 11:21 AM EDT
The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Travis Tygart addresses the media at the EU Council in Brussels on Friday, May 17, 2013. Tygart is bitterly complaining that the UCI world cycling federation has failed to take any decisive action to clean up the sport since the Lance Armstrong doping scandal over half a year ago. He said after Friday’s meeting with European Union sports officials that "all those who cherish the Olympic values, particularly fair play and a level playing field, deserve more."
(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

GENEVA (AP) — An independent panel will examine allegations that cycling's governing body was complicit in Lance Armstrong's doping, UCI President Pat McQuaid said Thursday.

Senior UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency officials will meet in Russia next week to discuss potential appointments to a three-member expert panel, McQuaid told The Associated Press.

Long-standing claims about the UCI and Armstrong's relationship "absolutely will be addressed" by the commission, he said.

They include allegations of collusion over suspicious test results at the 1999 Tour de France and 2001 Tour of Switzerland, plus cash donations to UCI totaling $125,000 from the now disgraced rider.

"I would be very sure that the audit will show that there's nothing untoward ever been done with Armstrong," McQuaid said in an interview on the day the UCI published a report it commissioned to consult cycling stakeholders and fans after the Armstrong affair.

McQuaid said the UCI will send the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency the laboratory results it requested of samples given by Armstrong during his career.

Among six "critically important" points in the report by consultants Deloitte, the UCI was told to work more closely with WADA and the USADA. The U.S. body had testy relations with the UCI during the investigation that detailed systematic doping by Armstrong and his teams.

The UCI should act quickly and clearly in deciding how to probe "historic doping cases," which could involve offering amnesties to riders and officials, Deloitte said after processing 6,369 survey responses and conducting a series of working groups.

"Any ultimate decision should be made only after consultation with WADA and USADA," Deloitte said in a report summary published by the UCI.

The UCI appears to be rebuilding relations with USADA by meeting a request to provide laboratory results of urine and blood samples given by Armstrong during his career.

McQuaid, who met USADA chief executive Travis Tygart last week in Brussels, said the UCI and WADA-accredited labs were searching their archives for information.

"From what I am told, in the coming weeks it should come to USADA in batches," he said.

The independent panel should take shape next week in St. Petersburg, on the sidelines of an Olympic gathering attended by UCI director general Christophe Hubschmid and WADA counterpart David Howman.

McQuaid said the two organizations, which have sparred in public, have met regularly since committing in January to an independent audit of the UCI's anti-doping program and decision-making during the period of Armstrong's career.

"The UCI and WADA are talking about names of who might do that (work)," said McQuaid, who in January closed down a previously appointed commission that was investigating if cycling leaders protected the American rider from scrutiny during his 1999-2005 run of Tour de France wins.

The latest panel will likely include two officials experienced in anti-doping science and sports law.

"Experts in this field who therefore know what they are looking for, and what they are looking at and understand all the files they will be reading," McQuaid said. "The UCI will maintain that any decisions we took at the time were taken within the rules at the time, with all the knowledge we had at the time.

"I think it's important that an audit can show that."

McQuaid plans to announce the panel members after a scheduled June 12-13 meeting of the UCI's management board in Bergen, Norway. Their audit report is expected within several months.

"After that, we will discuss what further measures we need to take in relation to looking at the past and dealing with the past," he said.