Cycling

Snow halts Armstrong inquiry

2013-01-21 16:32
Lance Armstrong (AFP)

London - The procedural hearing of the independent commission set up by cycling world governing body the UCI following the Lance Armstrong scandal has been postponed until Friday due to snow in London.

UCI chiefs set up the three-member inquiry, which includes 11-time Paralympic champion Tanni-Grey Thompson and whose chairperson is Philip Otton, a former judge in England's Court of Appeal, to deal with several issues notably the disgraced Armstrong's relationship with cycling's governing body.

One of the key items on the agenda, for a hearing originally due to take place in London on Tuesday until a cold snap hit Britain, concerns the issue of "Amnesty/truth and reconciliation".

VIDEO: Lance, Oprah spoof

Last week the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the United States Doping Agency (USADA) - the organisation whose investigations into Armstrong led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping offences - and pressure group Change Cycling Now all said they were withdrawing from the hearing because of the lack of an amnesty.

They argued this was vital so witnesses gave evidence "without fear of retribution or retaliation from the UCI".

Friday's rescheduled hearing, which will take place at the Law Society in central London, is set to determine whether the commission should adopt such a truth and reconciliation procedure, including an amnesty, as well as the scope of the commission's terms of reference.

The UCI has indicated it would be willing to consider an amnesty, so long as it does not contravene the WADA code.

Announcing the rescheduled hearing, a statement from the UCI Independent Commision (UCIIC) on Monday said: "Unfortunately, due to adverse weather conditions in London which have caused travel difficulties for the parties, the hearing has been postponed from Tuesday, January 22, and will now take place on Friday, January 25, at The Law Society."

Last week Armstrong finally admitted cheating, after years of denials, in a television interview with US chat show star Oprah Winfrey.

In so doing he opened himself up to court action for the return of prize money and costs from publications he'd sued for accusing him of doping offences.

For example, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, which has been asking questions about the American's record for 13 years, said it intended to get its money back after paying Armstrong 300 000 in a 2006 out-of-court settlement, where costs took its legal bill to 1 million.

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