International Cycling

Doping amnesty for cyclists

2013-09-18 11:03
Brian Cookson (AFP)

Paris - Brian Cookson, the International Cycling Union (UCI) presidential hopeful, has vowed if he is elected to offer cyclists an amnesty should they come clean about doping.

British Cycling president Cookson is challenging incumbent UCI head Pat McQuaid for the presidency in next week's elections in Florence, during the World Championships.

McQuaid has come under fire recently after a leaked dossier alleged he and his predecessor as UCI president, Hein Verbruggen, accepted bribes and covered up failed dope tests, notably by former Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.

Irishman McQuaid has described the allegations against him as "a complete fabrication" and accused his rival of indulging in "gangster politics".

However, since a number of American cyclists turned whistle-blowers and lifted the lid on the doping culture in the US Postal team, which led to Armstrong's downfall, there have been growing calls for a truth and reconciliation commission aimed at giving riders the chance to reveal all the dirty details about what really went on in the peloton.

"We need to define exactly what we mean by (truth and reconciliation) and certainly as part of that we need to have more of an incentive for people to come forward and tell the truth, so I guess there will have to be some sort of amnesty or reduction in sanction," said Cookson in a conference call.

"Let's not forget that doping in sport is actually against the law and illegal in some countries now, so (we need) to be clear about what level of amnesty and what level of offers we can make to people before we encourage them to tell the truth.

"I don't know Lance Armstrong, I've never met him but like all of us I watched the Oprah Winfrey show. It's clear he was telling some of the truth, I'd like to encourage him now to tell all of the truth.

"I'm sure we all know he was not the only rider who was guilty of doing what he did, but certainly he's the only one who won seven Tours de France so he obviously bears heavy responsibilities for some of the activities in that era.

"What I want to make sure we do is treat everybody on an equitable basis to make sure people are treated fairly, but I want to get more of the truth out and I want to get it out once and for all so that we don't have this continual drip, drip, drip of information and confessions, forced or otherwise, as we've seen through the course of this year."

After a number of his former Postal teammates told a United States Cycling investigation about the doping culture on the team during Armstrong's pomp, the Texan himself finally admitted to his sordid drug past in the Oprah interview in January, despite years of denials and defamation court cases against his accusers.

One of his former teammates, Tyler Hamilton, wrote a best-selling book last year in which he revealed the shocking extent of doping in the peloton, although few riders so far have corroborated his outrageous claims.

One who has is Floyd Landis, who like Armstrong was stripped of his Tour title from 2006 after he was caught doping in that race.

Landis it was who first accused Verbruggen of colluding with Armstrong to cover up failed dope tests.

And Cookson says if such claims prove to have foundation, no-one will be above the law.

"Let's be clear, if people have misbehaved or done things they shouldn't have done, (such as) anything illegal or 'collusional', then there is no hiding place," he warned.

"It's absolutely right that public authorities, the police or judicial authorities should treat all those things in the appropriate way.

"I hope that's not the case, I like to think there hasn't been anything like that but clearly we need to investigate that."

Read more on:    uci  |  brian cookson  |  cycling


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