Sir Philip Otton to Chair Independent Commission Reviewing UCI

By Community | November 30, 2012

An Independent Commission, initiated by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and chaired by Sir Philip Otton, will hold a hearing in April 2013 in London.

The Commission will look into issues and allegations arising out of the Reasoned Decision of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), of 10 October 2012, in relation to Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service Team. Following this hearing the Commission will provide the UCI with its report and recommendations.

The sport’s global governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), appointed John Coates, President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport, to put forward the names of three people to comprise the independent panel. His selection has now been appointed. A hearing has been scheduled in London between April 9-26 2013, with the commission’s report published by June 1 2013.

Sir Philip Otton, formerly a court of appeal judge, will chair the commission. He and UK House of Lords Peer and Paralympic Champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC will study all of the evidence presented by USADA to the UCI in its ‘Reasoned Decision’ that concluded that Armstrong was part of an organised doping programme at US Postal during his seven Tour de France wins.

“The appointment of these three eminent figures demonstrates clearly that the UCI wants to get to the bottom of the Lance Armstrong affair and put cycling back on the right track,” said UCI president Pat McQuaid in a statement issued on Friday.

“Rather than simply attacking the UCI, our critics now have an opportunity to be part of the solution. I would ask them, therefore, to make their representation to the Independent Commission – and to start to put cycling first.”

Armstrong was stripped of his wins by USADA, a decision later upheld by the UCI. Aside from the issues of doping, the report also contained several allegations directly related to the UCI’s activities, including the cover-up of alleged positive anti-doping tests originating from Armstrong, and a payment made by Armstrong to the UCI. Both current UCI president McQuaid and former president Hein Verbruggen were named in the report.

Much of the report was based on the testimonies of current and former professional riders who served as team-mates of Armstrong.

Since the USADA report, the UCI’s credibility has taken a severe knock, the appointment of the independent commission will – hopes the UCI – restore its credibility and that of professional cycling as a whole. Cycling has been dogged by repeated, high-profile doping scandals over the past two decades, and the overwhelming feeling among cycling fans and, more crucially, sponsors is that enough is enough.

“The Commission’s report and recommendations are critical to restoring confidence in the sport of cycling and in the UCI as its governing body,” said McQuaid.

“We will co-operate fully with the Commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their inquiry and we urge all other interested stakeholders to do the same. We will listen to and act on the Commission’s recommendations.”

Although the composition of the commission was suggested by Coates rather than the UCI, there have been some questions levelled at the UCI about the actual independence of the panel.

McQuaid tried to allay fears on this point in his statement: “Some of our critics have suggested that this Commission would not be fully independent. They were wrong. The UCI had no influence on the selection of the Commission members.”