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UCI's drugs report loses WADA support

ESPN staff
January 16, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will take no part in an independent commission into drugs use in cycling proposed by the sport's governing body because it is too focused on Lance Armstrong.

WADA's withdrawal threatens to undermine the credibility of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) investigation as the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has also voiced its concerns.

As well as the worry that the study gives too much space to Armstrong, both WADA and USADA are not happy that the commission will offer no immunity to cyclists willing to come forward and give evidence on doping.

It was USADA's report that labelled Armstrong as the head of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" which, in turn, led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

Up until now, Armstrong has always claimed to be innocent but in an interview with American television host Oprah Winfrey, which is due to be aired on January 17, the Texan has reportedly confessed to some of his doping charges.

Delving further into the Armstrong case is therefore a waste of time according to WADA president John Fahey as he explained his agency's decision to withdraw support for the UCI's commission.

"WADA is concerned that the scope of the inquiry is too focused on sanctioned former cyclist Lance Armstrong - especially as his case is closed and completed with there being no appeal - and will therefore not fully address such a widespread and ingrained problem," Fahey said.

"WADA also has concerns over the timeframe agreed for the Commission. A June deadline for the commission's report is wholly insufficient and will result in a lost opportunity to properly investigate the problem.

"Finally, because the Commission does not offer immunity there is no incentive for witnesses to come forward, or to even give witness statements. An approach that does not allow individuals to give evidence without the fear of retaliation will merely perpetuate the 'omerta' that has been an obstacle to cycling investigations in the past."

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