Thursday, July 10, 2014

USADA criticizes cycling body for lack of action

May 17. 2013 4:26PM
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BRUSSELS — The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency criticized cycling’s governing body for failing to take decisive action to clean up the sport since the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Travis Tygart said after Friday’s meeting with European Union sports officials that “all those who cherish the Olympic values, particularly fair play and a level playing field, deserve more.” The discussions were also attended by UCI President Pat McQuaid.

Tygart listed only one measure by cycling authorities — shutting down an independent panel looking into the relationship between cycling leaders and Armstrong. Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

The independent commission had been established to examine claims UCI had accepted financial donations from Armstrong as well as covering up samples.

“They disbanded the independent commission that was set up at the very time it began to actually act independent,” Tygart said.

When UCI shut down the panel two months after its start, it said it wanted an amnesty-style “truth and reconciliation” commission instead.

UCI has said it had tested Armstrong 189 times and caught top riders Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, which proved helpful in the investigation against Armstrong.

Still, Tygart said UCI was moving too slowly to reform a sport that has been hit hard by doping scandals. He said the lack of action came in the face of promises to reform after USADA produced its report on Armstrong in October.

“We have seen nothing. It has been over seven months since our report and their declaration that they needed to take decisive action,” he said. “So, of course, we are frustrated.”

In Europe, cycling’s biggest scandal has been the Operation Puerto blood-doping case in Spain. A judge ruled last month that key evidence that could implicate more athletes should be destroyed, preventing sport agencies from uncovering other cheaters.

Tygart called it an “obvious setback,” but was heartened by appeals to keep hundreds of blood bags available for analysis.

And he pointed out that the Armstrong case proved that even if such clear evidence doesn’t exist, that “cannot stop anti-doping agencies … from doing the job,” since proof could also be obtained from teammates and other officials.

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