UCI urged to fully fund probe of Armstrong links
GENEVA (AP) - The International Cycling Union must give enough resources for an independent commission to investigate allegations linking the governing body to the Lance Armstrong doping case, according to former board member Sylvia Schenk.
Schenk, the sports adviser for anti-corruption experts Transparency International, told The Associated Press the panel will need help to fulfill the task asked by the UCI, which is seeking to regain credibility within the sport.
"The commission will not be able to do everything itself,'' Schenk said in a telephone interview. "It must outsource some of the things that need to be done.''
UCI President Pat McQuaid acknowledged last month that professional cycling was in its biggest crisis after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency set out in devastating detail how Armstrong's teams cheated during his 1999-2005 run of Tour de France wins.
After accepting last week that Armstrong should be banned for life and stripped of his race results, the UCI moved to restore its own reputation.
McQuaid said it would create a commission to examine allegations about the governing body's conduct raised by the USADA report, including that Armstrong donated $125,000 in exchange for covering up suspicious doping tests. The UCI wants a report and recommendations delivered by June 1.
Schenk said past explanations about the donations - including exact amounts and when they were paid - had been "contradictory.''
"If the UCI discloses everything then it really has a chance to look into details to see who has been involved, and to take measures to kick out those who have been involved,'' said Schenk, who was an elected member of the UCI board for five years through 2005 under then-president Hein Verbruggen.
Schenk said there is a mood within cycling to change and end the culture of doping.
"Whether it will really happen, that depends in the next four, five, six weeks - whether such a commission is really independent and having resources,'' the former German cycling federation president said.
The UCI has said it will announce next week which "independent sports body'' will nominate the investigation panel members.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport's ruling board is the best candidate for that job, Schenk said.
"WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) is not really independent,'' she said. "It is part of the whole system, as part of the USADA report, and it would be better to have an institution like CAS.''
The commission panel needed experts in sports law, anti-doping and investigations, Schenk said. Cycling representatives could include a national federation president, race organizer and a female rider, plus a compliance expert from a major sponsor.
The UCI has taken a similar path to FIFA, which responded last year to allegations of high-level corruption by appointing Swiss law professor Mark Pieth to assemble an expert panel advising on reforms.
FIFA also asked Transparency International to contribute, and Schenk submitted a report urging President Sepp Blatter to probe unresolved corruption claims as a fundamental step to rebuilding credibility. She opted out of the reform process last November after questioning its independence.
Schenk said the not-for-profit group could consider making a submission to the cycling commission, which the UCI said will be asked to "find ways to ensure that persons caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage.''
"The more you read in the USADA report, the more questions are coming up,'' she said. "It's still an awful lot of work to do.''
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