UCI seeks special ‘truth and reconciliation’ hearing
An independent commission set up by the ruling cycling body UCI looking into the Lance Armstrong era aims to hold a public hearing in order to launch a "truth and reconciliation process."
The committee said in a statement on Wednesday that the hearing is to take place "as soon as possible after January 21" in London and that it has written to the UCI to reconsider its opposition to the process.
"The Commission is of the view that ... such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the Commission at its hearing in April 2013 ... Such a process would be in the interests not only of the Inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole," the statement said.
The statement came amid an announcement from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) that it will not partake in the commission, and severe criticism from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as well.
Wada and USADA want a partial amnesty for those who come forward with knowledge on doping without having to fear repercussions from the UCI. They also question the independence of the commission from the UCI.
"UCI's refusal to agree to allow a limited opportunity for riders to come forward and be truthful without fear of retribution or retaliation from the UCI obviously calls into question the UCI's commitment to a full and thorough investigation and creates grave concern that the UCI has blindfolded and handcuffed this Independent Commission to ensure a pre-determined outcome," USADA boss Travis Tygart said.
Wada president John Fahey said: "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."
Fahey said "the UCI has had too much influence over the terms of reference, which calls into question the Commission's independence," named the probe "too focused" on Armstrong and dismissed the June deadline for the commission report as "wholly insufficient."
Armstrong, 41, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all results since 1998 by the UCI after USADA said in a report that he led "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen."
Armstrong, who has not failed a doping test, has reportedly admitted to substance abuse in a television interview to be broadcast on Thursday.
There is speculation that Armstrong may implicate the UCI as part of the cover-up of his doping practices, with former UCI leader Hein Verbruggen and current president Pat McQuaid possibly in trouble then.