WADA: Independent cycling investigation imminent
Johannesburg • Cycling is weeks away from setting up an independent commission to investigate the sport's drug-stained past, World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey said Tuesday.
Fahey will meet Wednesday with Brian Cookson, the new president of cycling's governing body, to discuss the fallout from the Lance Armstrong scandal. The outgoing WADA chief said it would take "something close to a miracle" for Armstrong's life ban to be reduced in return for cooperating with the investigation.
"There'd have to be a damn good reason," Fahey said.
WADA also has received the report into the breakdown of drug testing procedures in Jamaica before last year's London Olympics and will examine that "quite extensive" document in detail at the end of this week's World Conference on Doping in Sport, according to Fahey, after Jamaican authorities are given a chance to respond. They have until the end of the week.
"They dropped the ball. It's clear," Fahey said, referring to Jamaica's anti-doping controls.
Fahey said it is "almost certain" that the doping laboratory in Brazil whose WADA accreditation was revoked would not be ready for next year's World Cup. That means FIFA will have to make other plans to test samples during the soccer's showpiece in June and July, likely flying them from Brazil to Lausanne, Switzerland.
Fahey also used Tuesday's news conference to announce a new "steroid passport" that will come into use in 2014. The new technology will mirror the biological passport that currently tracks athletes' blood profile and will help detect steroid use, Fahey said. He said the steroid passport is "ready to run."
Fahey promised progress on cycling's future and Jamaica at the four-day summit in Johannesburg, which opened Tuesday and will be the last major task for the former Australian politician as president of the anti-doping body.
The main business for this week's meeting is to review and update the World Anti-Doping Code and elect a new president of WADA. IOC Vice President Craig Reedie from Britain is the only candidate in Friday's election to succeed Fahey. He will take over Jan. 1.
Four-year bans for intentional dopers, more emphasis on investigations to catch cheats and strengthening punishments for coaches and officials who help athletes dope are expected to be adopted and added to the international doping code on Friday when WADA votes on the proposals. The new code will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Cycling and concerns over Jamaica could dominate the behind-the-scenes discussions in Johannesburg.
That will start with Wednesday's meeting between WADA and Cookson, who made contact with the agency almost as soon as he was elected in September, Fahey said. An independent commission to investigate and shed light on cycling's dark doping history is now imminent.
"I am confident that from what UCI have indicated, and their wish to get something going, that it will happen within weeks rather than within months," Fahey said. "The goodwill appears to be there. "
Fahey said there would have to be "extraordinarily powerful reasons" for Armstrong, who was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year, to have his case re-opened and his ban reduced for cooperating with the commission. Armstrong's intention to seek a reduction in his ban from all organized sport has been the subject of major speculation with the disgraced American rider intimating in interviews that he would be willing to cooperate in return for leniency.
"As far as I'm concerned it's (Armstrong's case) done and dusted," Fahey said. "Armstrong did what he did. We all know what that is. He did not cooperate, he did not defend the charges that USADA put out there last year and he was dealt with in a proper process."
Fahey said the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency case against Armstrong and his eventual life ban were "irrefutable" and repeated the standpoint of USDADA chief executive Travis Tygart, who has questioned the "value" of Armstrong's testimony over a year after the case was brought against him.