Monday, December 3, 2012

UCI Armstrong Investigation off to an Impressive Start

The International Cycling Union has announced an investigation of its role in the Lance Armstrong affair. The NY Daily News reports:
The International Cycling Union has appointed a British judge, a British lawmaker and an Australian lawyer to investigate the role the sport’s governing body played in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

UCI officials announced on Friday that judge Phillip Otton will chair the three-member panel that includes Tanni Grey-Thompson, a member of the upper chamber of Britain’s Parliament who has won 10 Paralympic gold medals in wheelchair racing, and attorney Malcolm Holmes. The panel is scheduled to meet in London for 17 days in April and issue a report by June 1.

“The appointment of these three eminent figures demonstrates clearly that the UCI wants to get to the bottom of the Lance Armstrong affair and put cycling back on the right track,” UCI President Pat McQuaid said in a statement.

UCI had asked Court of Arbitration for Sport board president John Coates to recommend candidates for the panel. McQuaid said the cycling federation had no part in choosing the three officials, who will determine the parameters of their investigation. The panel is expected to look into the relationships between Armstrong and McQuaid, who was elected UCI president in 2005, and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen.
The panel (chaired by Sir Phillip Otton) and the investigation's terms of reference are both very strong, with a sweeping mandate. Here are the subjects of the investigation:
1. Whether the allegations against the UCI set out in the Reasoned Decision are well founded.

2. Whether, between 1998 and 2012, the UCI realised that Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team were collaborating to avoid detection in the use, possession, administration and trafficking of performance enhancing drugs and methods, and: (i) if the UCI did realise, whether it failed to respond appropriately; and (ii) if the UCI did not realise, whether it ought to have done so, and what steps (if any) it should have taken to inform itself of the actions of Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team in order to act appropriately.

3. Whether, and if so, to what extent the UCI’s anti-doping policies and procedures between (i) 1998 and 2005 and (ii) 2005 and 2012, were inadequate or were not enforced with sufficient rigour; and if so, whether the UCI was at the time aware, or ought to have been aware, of such inadequacy or lack of enforcement.

4. Whether there was, between 1998 and 2012, any reliable evidence or information in the possession of or known to the UCI regarding allegations or suspicions of doping by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team; and if so, whether there was any failure by the UCI to act appropriately in regard to such information.

5. Whether, when Lance Armstrong returned to racing in 2009, there was a failure by the UCI to detect signs of doping by him, and whether it was appropriate for him to return to and continue racing.

6. Whether payments were made by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team to the UCI, between 1998 and 2012, and if so whether it was appropriate for the UCI to have accepted such payments, or to have accepted them on the basis (explicit or implicit) upon which they were made.

7. Whether the UCI inappropriately discouraged those persons with knowledge of doping by Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team from coming forward with such knowledge, and whether the UCI should have done more to encourage such persons to come forward sooner.

8. Whether the UCI adequately co-operated with, assisted in and reacted to the USADA USPS Team Investigation.

9. Whether any persons previously convicted of doping, or voluntarily admitting to doping, or supporting riders in doping, should be able to work within the world of cycling in the future; and, if not, how such a prohibition could and should be enforced.

10. Whether the UCI had a conflict of interest between its roles in promoting the sport of cycling and in investigating or making adverse findings against Lance Armstrong and the USPS Team.

11. Whether the current doping controls of the UCI are adequate and compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and whether those controls can be improved.
The report is due June 1, 2013 and a hearing will be held in London in April. That really does not leave very much time for an investigation of this magnitude. There is, understandably, a lot of skepticism -- Paul Kimmage, an investigative journalist, has doubted the worth of the effort

However, if the investigation is anywhere as comprehensive and as sound as the USADA's "reasoned decision" then it stands a good chance of setting a very important precedent in the governance of sport, including the jurisprudential role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in such controversies that go beyond anything covered by national or international laws. Of course, if the investigation does not live up to these high expectations, the fallout will likely be severe.


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