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Doping Report Scorches|International Cycling Union

(CN) - The International Cycling Union ignored blatant reports of doping for years, primarily to protect pro cycling's biggest star, Lance Armstrong, according to a report commissioned by the Cycling Union itself.

The Union Cycliste Internationale established a Cycling Independent Reform Commission to investigate doping in pro cycling, and whether the UCI and other governing bodies ignored or obstructed doping investigations.

It did, the Commission said in a scorching, 228-page report released Sunday.

The Commission said that though Armstrong donated $25,000 to the UCI after allegations were made that he had tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, "there is no evidence that the two were linked."

It said that though Armstrong volunteered to donate another $100,000 to the UCI's anti-doping campaign in 2005, after L'Equipe reported that he had tested positive for EPO during the 1999 Tour de France, and that Armstrong did buy the UCI a Sysmex machine in 2007, again, "the timing indicates that the two were not related."

The report on this investigation was known as the Vrijman report.

However, the Commission said that the UCI "consistently failed" to apply its own anti-doping rules for so-called therapeutic exemptions. "Two clear examples of this were the cases of Laurent Brochard (1997) and Lance Armstrong (1999), when both riders were permitted to provide backdated prescriptions to avoid sanction," the report states.

The Commission said quite clearly that the UCI gave Armstrong preferential treatment.

"Numerous examples have been identified showing that UCI leadership 'defended' or 'protected' Lance Armstrong and took decisions because they were favourable to him. This was in circumstances where there was strong reason to suspect him of doping, which should have led UCI to be more circumspect in its dealings with him. UCI exempted Lance Armstrong from rules (see above), failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping, even as late as 2012 when UCI threatened to challenge USADA's {U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] jurisdiction. In addition, requesting and accepting donations from Lance Armstrong, given the suspicions, left UCI open to criticism."

In the case of the Vrijman report, the Commission says, the UCI bent over backward for Armstrong.

"UCI purposely limited the scope of the independent investigator's mandate to procedural issues contrary to what they told stakeholders and the public and against Emile Vrijman's own suggestion. UCI, together with the Armstrong team, became directly and heavily involved in the drafting of the Vrijman report, the purpose of which was only partly to expedite the publication of the report. The main goal was to ensure that the report reflected UCI's and Lance Armstrong's personal conclusions. The significant participation of UCI and Armstrong's team was never publicly acknowledged. In the CIRC's view, based on an assessment of documents in its possession, UCI had no intention of pursuing an independent report; UCI's approach

prioritised the fight against WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] and the protection of its star athlete."

The Commission said the UCI and its officials had been aware of the widespread use of banned drugs in professionally cycling since at least 1991.

"The emphasis of UCI's anti-doping policy was ... to give the impression that UCI was tough on doping rather than actually being good at anti-doping," the Commission said. In the final pages of the report, it makes recommendations on how the UCI could improve its anti-doping policies.

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