Last updated: March 17. 2013 3:25AM - 186 Views
ROB HARRIS, AP Sports Writer

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LONDON — Cycling's governing body agreed Friday to introduce a truth and reconciliation commission with the World Anti-Doping Agency, effectively undermining the independent panel investigating the Lance Armstrong scandal.

The UCI established an independent three-person panel to investigate accusations that its leaders covered up suspicious doping tests given by Armstrong during his 1999-2005 run of Tour de France victories and improperly accepted donations totaling $125,000.

The panel had demanded earlier Friday that it must be allowed to implement a form of amnesty program that allowed riders and officials to come forward with info on doping without fear of retribution, citing a struggle to persuade witnesses to speak openly.

UCI President Pat McQuaid said the federation would work with WADA to develop the amnesty commission. The UCI said it would update the independent panel on the talks before a second public hearing next Thursday.

The truth and reconciliation process is the best way that we can examine the culture of doping in cycling in the past, and can clear the air so that cycling can move forward, McQuaid said after the panel's initial hearing.

McQuaid said he will hold talks with WADA President John Fahey this weekend about how the truth and reconciliation process would operate.

The independent panel also wants to broaden its investigation into Armstrong's role as the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on the U.S. Postal Service team, which was exposed in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last year. Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life, admitted to doping in an interview last week.

There has been a culture of doping in cycling, McQuaid said. But we hope through this truth and reconciliation commission which we are going to put in place, once it has done its work, we have drawn a line in the sand finally … and our sport can move on and be the great sport around the world it should be.

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