On pages 17 and 18 of its report, the CIRC comments on its methodology.
What follows are my more general comments. I will provide more detailed comments and examples in different sections that discuss the substance of the CIRC report.
My first issue with the way that the CIRC was conducted is that, in general the CIRC’s opinions, expressed in the final report, are based on statements made by a great many unidentified interviewees (“it has been reported that…”, “UCI staff stated that…”) rather than upon documents that can be found in the UCI’s files and that can be checked and verified.
The CIRC should have been extremely wary of this. On page 90, its report states that “many interviewees spoke of conspiracy and corruption” – and yet the CIRC found no evidence of either conspiracy or corruption. It is not clear, therefore, why the CIRC then so casually accepted these statements made by its interviewees.
Indeed, there is no sign that the CIRC even bothered to find out:
As a consequence, the report contains a great many personal opinions, rather than being a rigorous investigation or analysis by the CIRC itself. In addition, many of these personal views differ greatly and are frequently contradictory. On pages 60-61 and 74-75, for example, there are a number of very different and sometimes contradictory views all on a single page.
In its report, the CIRC even warns that there may have been “people who may have lied during their interview” (on page 19). Given this admission, is it not then risky to rely so heavily on people’s personal testaments, without even trying to verify the truth of the statements. This risk is not even limited to people who may have lied to the CIRC – it extends also to those who may testify in good faith, but whose memories of what happened may be clouded by the passage of time.
This is surely a totally unacceptable methodology for a high-profile investigation, especially when people’s reputations are at stake.
My second issue with the CIRC’s methodology, is that it is not made clear which interviewees came to the CIRC spontaneously and which were invited by the CIRC. Providing a list of the interviewees that were invited by the CIRC (or by WADA, or the UCI) to speak to the CIRC would be significant. (Incidentally, I did not ask anyone to go before the CIRC.)
I would only note now that some of the interviewees that were given prominence in the CIRC’s report are long-standing and well-known opponents of mine, for example:
None of these people provided the CIRC with any information about “…a wide ranging independent investigation into the causes of the pattern of doping” or about “allegations which implicate the UCI and other governing bodies and officials over ineffective investigation of doping practices in cycling” (two key elements in the Commission’s supposed Terms of Reference). The CIRC does not reserve its judgement concerning the objectivity and reliability of these various interviewees’ statements about me, despite their highly-publicised conflict with me. On the contrary, this dubious cast of grudge-bearing witnesses was given the “red carpet” treatment in order to provide the CIRC with a host of unsubstantiated accusations against me. The proof of this is all over the report!
I know for a fact that a number of the CIRC’s interviewees said many positive things about me. But none of them is quoted in the final report.
It is clear that the CIRC was keen to give the floor to my opponents, and to them only.
My third issue with the methodology surrounding interviewees is that, when I met the CIRC on 24 November 2014, I was told that if the CIRC intended to quote me in their report, they would give me the opportunity to review the text of the quote. On 3 February 2015, the CIRC asked me whether I consented to be quoted in its report. I replied that, as had been agreed the previous November, I would like to see the quotes that the CIRC had in mind, in particular as some of the information that I gave to the CIRC was confidential.
I then heard nothing more from the CIRC and its report was sent to Brian Cookson who made it public.
It is now clear that no individual has been quoted under his or her name. I wonder why that might be. The least the CIRC could have done is to explain the reason for it taking this approach. Was none of the interviewees who threw these unsubstantiated accusations against me brave enough to do so openly? Was no one quoted by name because the CIRC felt that, in that case, I need not be quoted either (which would be an absurd and unfair line of reasoning)?
Finally, as I explain in the section titled “Unvoiced”, I was not given the chance to respond to the vast majority of the unsubstantiated statements made by other interviewees against me. These accusations were not even put to me, let alone giving me the opportunity to comment. Given the well known and longstanding antipathy of many of the witnesses to me, this was a particularly low method.
As will be shown under the other sections, this “methodology” has resulted in the final report presenting a selection of elements that fulfilled Cookson’s and WADA’s expectations, while ignoring all of the elements that give any credit to me, or to the UCI under my presidency.
The CIRC states, on page 17 of its report, that it collected “documentary, academic, statistical and visual information from a number of varied sources”.
The CIRC fails, however, to list that information. As a result, it is not known what information the CIRC had at its disposal, what information was used, what information was not, what information found its way into the report and what did not.
The report makes reference to external information for a limited number of issues only. And then only a small part of that information has been made available for the reader to check via a hyperlink. But any reader wishing to look over that information will find themselves having to pay for the privilege of having access to certain documents.
Some other information is referred to by saying that the CIRC has it on record. But the reader has no access to this information: it is not attached to the report as an annex. From some documents that are referred to, only some selected parts are quoted, while other relevant parts of these documents are not. ( I will give examples of this under the sections concerned.)
This is neither correct nor professional.
It is obviously also worrying that relevant information that was at the CIRC’s disposal has not been used or referred to, in particular the wealth of information about actions taken by the UCI that present it in a positive light. It is clear that any document that might possibly take away from the CIRC’s pre-judged negative opinions have been left out of consideration. I will provide a great many examples of this taking place.
As a result, the factual basis for many of the CIRC’s opinions and conclusions is not provided, or not given completely.
Similarly, readers are given no possibility to compare the opinions and conclusions reached by the CIRC with the relevant facts.
As a result, readers cannot see to what extent the report is incorrect, incomplete and biased. Once again, this is disgraceful by any ethical standards, in particular for a report that clearly damages people’s reputations.
And again, as I will go on to explain in the other sections, this methodology has conveniently resulted in the CIRC report focussing on elements that meet the expectations of Cookson and WADA, while totally ignoring any element that might disprove their unsubstantiated accusations, or even expose their own “wrongdoings”, as well as any elements that give credit to the UCI under my presidency.
The CIRC report also states that it was provided with electronic information by the UCI.
The CIRC fails to mention that Brian Cookson had an IT company on stand by outside the UCI premises on the morning of Friday 27 September 2013, the day of the UCI presidential election. As soon as the election result was known – even before the end of the Congress, which means before Cookson was formally UCI President as Congress’s decisions become effective only after the meeting closes – the IT company was ordered to enter the UCI buildings.
All computers in the UCI premises, whether belonging to the UCI or not, were confiscated. Office doors, even those which were locked, were forced opened. Cupboards containing private belongings were searched. All electronic data, including private data, were copied and sealed. The sealed copies were handed over to the CIRC.
Cookson’s methodology calls to my mind the sort of methods employed by a police state. To my knowledge, this is totally unprecedented in the world of sports. This incident does not, of course, present Cookson in a very flattering light – and I cannot imagine that the members of the CIRC found it very appealing either. Perhaps that is why no mention of it appears in the report.
In conclusion. The CIRC’s “methodology” deprives readers of any possibility to assess what evidence was selected, what evidence was ignored and whether the CIRC’s opinions are correct based on the evidence.
This is problematic, to say the least, in terms of neutrality and objectivity.
To the extent that the CIRC did not check the veracity of interviewees’ statements, is not transparent on its selection of statements to be reported, ignores relevant documents, did not give me any right of reply, ignores information that I provided, the CIRC’s report is below par.
The CIRC did not carry out a proper and responsible investigation. The CIRC cultivates “naming and shaming” with no foundation of evidence – something that it even laughably condemns in its report when it is done by other people.