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UCI and WADA agree on doping inquiry

ESPN staff
November 13, 2013 « Keane 'good cop' of Ireland bosses | Chartbeat test »
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The World Anti-Doping Agency and cycling's governing body have agreed the formation of an independent commission to investigate the sport's drug-stained past - and Lance Armstrong will be asked to testify.

UCI president Brian Cookson has confirmed that the two organisations have an agreement in principle to join forces.

"We've agreed that we will cooperate," Cookson said. "We will have a commission of inquiry which the UCI will manage and run. We will agree on the detailed terms and conditions of that over the next few days, hopefully."

Cookson reached the agreement after holding a private meeting with WADA president John Fahey at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg.

Armstrong has said he would be "happy to talk" to the commission, but hinted that he would only do so if his lifetime ban was reduced. Armstrong was handed the sanction and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year following a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into what they termed "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen."

Cookson did not say whether Armstrong would be granted his wish. The disgraced rider has recently claimed USADA had a "vendetta" against him, with other riders receiving lesser punishments for doping.

"He has admitted to cheating to win seven Tours de France," Cookson said. "Whether other people cheated or not is perhaps irrelevant. I can't see him getting the same sanctions (for) people who have previously given evidence."

The new UCI chief, elected in September on promises to clean up the sport, admitted the commission will need to provide "incentives" for riders to testify.

"Some people will come forward and give evidence because they simply want to get it off their chest. Others will not want to do that," Cookson said. "So, there has to be some form of incentive and that is one of the things we are working on in the detail with WADA."

The commission will be set up before the end of the year, with work expected to begin in early 2014. Cookson said there will be no "firm deadline" for how long the investigation will take, but hopes to see it completed within a year.

Cookson is hoping Armstrong will testify over allegations he colluded with UCI officials during his Tour wins, and received protection from the governing body's leadership.

"What I am really interested in, I have to say, is the allegations he has apparently made ... about the way in which he was given special treatment by the UCI. If that was true, I'd like to know about it," Cookson said.

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