U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Chief Executive Travis Tygart praised UCI (Union… (Ed Andrieski / Associated…)
An hour or so after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by UCI, cycling's international governing body, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Chief Executive Travis Tygart released a statement saying he was pleased with UCI's decision:
“Today, the UCI made the right decision in the Lance Armstrong case. Despite its prior opposition to USADA's investigation into doping on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team and within the sport, USADA is glad that the UCI finally reversed course in this case and has made the credible decision available to it.
"This determination to uphold USADA’s decision on the U.S. Postal Services case does not by itself clean up cycling nor does it ensure the sport has moved past the obstacles that allowed doping to flourish in the age of EPO [erythropoietin] and blood transfusions. For cycling to truly move forward and for the world to know what went on in cycling, it is essential that an independent and meaningful Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established so that the sport can fully unshackle itself from the past. There are many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors and the omerta has not yet been fully broken.
"Sanctioning Lance Armstrong and the riders who came forward truthfully should not be seen as penance for an era of pervasive doping. There must be more action to combat the system that took over the sport. It is important to remember that while today is a historic day for clean sport, it does not mean clean sport is guaranteed for tomorrow. Only an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission can fully start cycling on the path toward true reform and provide hope for a complete break from the past.”
PHOTOS: Lance Armstrong through the years
In its recent report detailing why Armstrong should be stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from competition for life, USADA featured claims that UCI appeared disinterested in addressing doping in the sport.
The report also noted that Armstrong’s former teammates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis said he admitted to them that “he had tested positive for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and stated or implied that he had been able to make the EPO test result go away.”
“Armstrong’s conversation with Hamilton was in 2001, and he told Hamilton that 'his people had been in touch with UCI, they were going to have a meeting and everything was going to be OK.' Armstrong’s conversation with Landis was in 2002, and Landis recalled Armstrong saying that 'he and Mr. [Johan] Bruyneel flew to the UCI headquarters and made a financial agreement to keep the positive test hidden.'
“Consistent with the testimony of both Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Landis, Pat McQuaid, the current president of UCI, has acknowledged that during 2002, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel visited the UCI headquarters in Aigle [Switzerland] in May 2002 and offered at least $100,000 to help the development of cycling. UCI vehemently denies that this meeting or payment was, as Mr. Armstrong told Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Landis, tied to a coverup of the 2001 Tour de Suisse sample. In any case, what is important for the case is that substantial parts of Mr. Hamilton’s and Mr. Landis’s recollections of Mr. Armstrong’s statements have been corroborated.”
Don Catlin, the Internal Olympic Committee medical commission member who has tested athletes for performance-enhancing substances since the 1980s, said UCI’s behavior merits an investigation.
Fallout from the USADA report, said Catlin, could be instituting a church-and-state separation between sport and testers.
Because, “it’s not in their interest to have positives,” Catlin said. “So the way you stop surprise tests is to make sure there’s no surprise.”