9 March 2015

WADA Director General Statement on the Cycling Independent Reform Commission Report

WADA Director General, David Howman:  “Report makes interesting observations and calls for action to end doping in cycling”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has read with interest the Cycling Independent Reform Commission Report (CIRC) published today by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).  The Commission, which was established by the UCI in January 2014, completed a 13-month investigation, independent from the UCI, into “the causes of the pattern of doping that developed within cycling and allegations that implicate the UCI and other governing bodies and officials over ineffective investigation of such practices.” The Commission should be commended for their extensive investigation into the historical problems relating to the sport of cycling and for the thoroughness of their Report.

The Commission made a number of interesting observations, and included in their Report some helpful information that we at WADA will examine in greater detail as we look to enhance our support of the clean athlete globally. In relation to suggestions and recommendations in the report, WADA will:

  1. Examine the UCI’s past failures to apply Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) effectively;
  2. Address the need to enhance the process for allocating research funds; details of the WADA Special Research Fund will be announced in the coming days;
  3. Continue to advance the new investigative powers permitted by the revised World Anti-Doping Code (as evidenced through the Independent Commission’s investigation into allegations of doping) and also work with the UCI to advance their own information gathering techniques;
  4. Continue the implementation of a new Compliance process which includes a newly-appointed independent Compliance Review Committee to ensure efficient and effective anti-doping programs from all Code signatories.

The Report makes a series of recommendations concerning how cycling can address issues of governance and enhance its anti-doping efforts in the future.  It acknowledges that doping continues to exist in cycling and therefore recommends that the UCI carries out prevalence studies to determine the current level of doping in cycling in different countries, teams, levels and disciplines.  The Report also makes serious allegations that riders made payments to officials in order to avoid testing and/or analysis – a so called “anti-doping tax”. WADA is certain that the UCI will address these matters as soon as practicable; and, we will work closely and cooperatively with the UCI to implement the necessary changes.

The Report also makes it clear that, under its previous leadership, the UCI prioritized the protection of the heroic image of cycling and of its star athletes such as Lance Armstrong, ahead of the protection of clean cyclists and the promotion of clean sport. At the time, the UCI leadership did not hesitate to deliberately conceal the truth and attack those who raised concern about doping within their sport, including WADA.  WADA invested a great deal of time and resources defending itself against what have now been proven to be completely unfounded and unjustified attacks by the then UCI leadership.

WADA is also shocked to read that the so called “Vrijman Report” - which the UCI had publicly claimed to be independent - was in fact partially written by the then UCI President himself with the assistance of Lance Armstrong’s legal team. This also raises questions over the ethics and values in place at the highest levels of UCI governance at the time.

Finally, WADA wishes to commend UCI’s current President, Brian Cookson, for his courage in opening up his organization, and the sport of cycling, to such a high level of independent and transparent scrutiny.  I have confidence that many of the Reports’ findings will propel the sport to move beyond an unfortunate and disturbing time in its history.