Page 98-115 of the CIRC report is a section that writes about “UCI and anti-doping”. I could easily write a hundred pages in response to this section, but I will not comment on each and every point. Instead, I will only highlight a few points that, in my view, illustrate the extremely biaised approach adopted by the CIRC.
Health and doping
One of the allegations that the CIRC seeks to reinforce is that, for the UCI, the issue of health took priority over the issue of doping. The CIRC seeks to substantiate this false allegation by gathering different elements that used together aim to create a pseudo-medical argument.
On page 98, the CIRC states that at that time (ie before 1992), doping was perceived to be primarily a health issue. But this was precisely what the entire world of sport believed at the time – and indeed is still considered to be the case for some international federations.
Until 1999, the IOC’s anti-doping rules were found in the IOC Medical Code. The preservation of health is still listed as the second primary goal of the anti-doping rules under the World Anti-Doping Code and it is the second element of the “spirit of sport”, the preservation of which is the fundamental rationale for the Code. The risk to the health of athletes still is one of the three grounds on which a substance, or method, will be placed on the list of prohibited substances and methods (Article 4.3.1 of the Code).
Similarly, the CIRC writes on page 99 that the separation originally planned between medical and anti-doping at the UCI was “blurred” by making a doctor (Lon Schattenberg), the (de facto) head of antidoping. This bizarrely suggests that a doctor, perhaps because of his or her medical expertise, could not therefore be an expert in anti-doping and the head of an anti-doping unit. In fact, for many federations, the head of antidoping is indeed a doctor as they also are in many NADOs.
On the other hand, the CIRC makes no comment about the fact that Dr. Mario Zorzoli was also active in both the medical monitoring and anti-doping. On page 103, the CIRC even refers to the coordination between the anti-doping program and the health program and the advantage of the UCI doctor (Dr. Zorzoli) participating in doping control. I will return to this in more detail later.
On page 102, the CIRC links the creation of the “health program” in 1997 with riders’ deaths in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is false (and rather despicable), as providing the bare minimum of background facts would have shown. However, these facts would have contradicted the CIRC’s premise. The CIRC ignores the actions in the 1990s, especially those of the Medical Commission, before the health program was introduced in 1997 starting with the haematocrit tests. What the CIRC calls the “health program” was in fact just one additional instrument in the fight against doping.
Indeed the health programme was at the service of anti-doping as it sought to fight the use of undetectable prohibited substances via health controls or haematocrit tests that could show blood values that might have been caused by the use of doping, but which could not actually prove that doping was the cause. Health problems detected through medical monitoring might also provide an indication of doping. But naturally this program was also favourable to the riders’ health.
It is malicious to suggest, as the CIRC does, that the UCI’s approach gave precedence to health over anti-doping.
This attitude also explains why there is no word in the CIRC report on an important part of the health program: the “health booklet” that was introduced in 2000. In this booklet, the riders and their doctors had to note all obligatory health examinations (four a year); the therapeutic justification for the use of insulin; the use of inhaled corticosteroids and beta 2-agonists for asthma; and the authorized use of otherwise prohibited substances (local anaesthetics and corticosteroids). This system also enabled longitudinal monitoring of the use of authorized substances, which is useful both for health and anti-doping purposes.
The health booklet was a comprehensive and practical instrument to tackle the complex problem of riders using normally prohibited substances, but ones which could be authorized in certain methods of administration or under medical prescription. The health booklet, although a medical record, was an important tool in the fight against doping, in particular given that the UCI put stricter conditions on the use of otherwise prohibited substances than the IOC, or other sports.
The health booklet also put an end to the difficulties and controversies raised by Article 43 of UCI’s then anti-doping regulations, such as in the cases of Laurent Brochard (1997) and Lance Armstrong (1999). (More on these two cases elsewhere.)
The health booklet is an example of a health instrument being introduced mainly for anti-doping purposes, similar to the haematocrit rule, and, to a lesser extent, to the medical monitoring.
It should not be used to accuse the UCI of making the health of riders its main concern, rather than doping. On the contrary, these health measures were also intended to be deterrent instruments in the fight against doping and were mainly introduced because of doping concerns.
But of course they could not be specifically called “anti-doping” tools, or be part of the anti-doping rules, as by themselves they could not establish with the necessary scientific rigour the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method.
On page 103 of the CIRC report, there is a statement that I believe (with some hesitation) is a positive one:
Some coordination also occurred through the fact that the UCI doctor participated along with the DCO in the taking of the sample. This provided a good opportunity for the exchange of information between the UCI doctor and the athlete and his/her support personnel, because the UCI doctor was, unlike the DCO, not perceived as a “prosecutor.” Information that might be relevant to doping that was obtained by the UCI doctor in the field was then passed on to the ADU.
Here the CIRC confirms implicitly that information obtained by the UCI doctor (this was for the most part Mario Zorzoli who played an important role in UCI’s anti-doping programmes) was used for anti-doping purposes. It is another example of UCI’s health programme being instrumental in the fight against doping. Note also the sympathetic role that is given to the UCI doctor while the CIRC confirms that the DCO was seen as a “prosecutor”. This confirms that the UCI’s fight against doping was perceived by riders as being a “persecution” (which was also the view of the advocate-general in the Festina case heard by the court of Douai), and not as a form of “tolerance” as the CIRC suggests elsewhere in its report.
This coordination between UCI and the DCO also highlights the usefulness of the health program for the anti-doping program, however the CIRC leaves to reader to draw this conclusion without any assistance. It cannot bring itself to write that, nor can it give Lon Schattenberg any credit for it.
Lon Schattenberg and Mario Zorzoli
Part of the CIRC’s considerations on “health taking precedence over anti-doping” is the negative framing of Dr Lon Schattenberg. The CIRC has no problem – and rightly so – with Mario Zorzoli, also a doctor, who worked almost full-time on both health and anti-doping at the UCI for 15 years. A kind and helpful colleague, he was heavily involved in the operational side of anti-doping and in the medical aspects of results management. For riders and teams, Dr Zorzoli was the face of anti-doping of the UCI. It is a shame that the important role that Dr Zorzoli played in the fight against doping of the UCI gets so little mention in the CIRC’s report, despite him being one of the CIRC’s main interviewees who met the Commission several times. If my information is correct, Dr Zorzoli was very cooperative with the CIRC – and the CIRC even intervened with Cookson who was trying at the time to fire Dr Zorzoli.
The CIRC refers to “UCI staff” reporting that “trying to catch the cheaters amounted to a witch hunt in Lon Schattenberg’s opinion”. Anyone who knows Lon Schattenberg would also know that this is absolutely not correct. I truly wonder which member of staff could have said something like that and what their motivation for saying that was. I also cannot imagine (and I have certainly never known) Schattenberg to prevent anyone from the ADU going after cheaters.
I simply don’t understand why the CIRC would depict Dr. Zorzoli as a ‘good guy’ and credit him for all he did and then make Dr. Schattenberg out to be a ‘villain’. This is simply not at all consistent in view of the roles and activities that the two men played in anti-doping at the UCI.
Of course it is a pity that for personal reasons, Lon Schattenberg is no longer in a position to defend himself. It adds cowardice to the character assination that the CIRC has committed here, by making so vague a reference to a totally unsubstantiated opinion of “UCI staff”.
A section that directly concerns me is the passage on the “UCI leadership”, on pages 103 – 106.
It is however not always clear who the CIRC considers to be the UCI ‘leadership’. The CIRC totally ignores the role of successive UCI Directors-General.
Apart from that, I consider it to be completely normal that the leadership of an anti-doping organisation such as the UCI would take decisions about anti-doping. The CIRC cites “funding, organisation, recruitment of staff”. In the same way, I consider it to be completely normal that the leadership of an anti-doping organisation such as the UCI would be “informed and aware of, as well as involved in, decisions in relation to all important anti-doping matters on an operational level”. These sorts of important matters are extremely relevant for the leadership in terms of legal responsibility, finance and policy-making.
As the CIRC confirms when writing about another subject (on page 114) it is the World Anti-Doping Code that confirmed the role of anti-doping organization on all IF – as well as holding the IFs accountable for all the obligations placed on them by the World Anti-Doping Code.
This does not mean that an IF leadership should run the show at an operational level, but that the leadership should be involved in important issues that are submitted to them for advice or guidance.
(A side remark: in different places throughout its report, the CIRC accepts that the doping problem in other sports is as big, or even bigger, than in cycling. But nowhere is there any word about the role of the leadership of those IFs in anti-doping, nor about whether or not these Ifs have an independent entity similar to the UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation).
Also the CIRC’s observations and conclusions about the “flow of information” and the “flow of decisions” regarding anti-doping operations under my presidency are simply not serious (pages 103-104).
Of course the CIRC makes reference only to its interviewees – and who they are, only they know – and it also frequently uses the noncommittal phrase “it appears…”. These are general statements and the CIRC has clearly not checked the substance of them, not even with the persons directly involved.
Perhaps, in the eyes of the CIRC, it was none of my business what people told them. It certainly seems that way: opinions are given far more credence than facts, in particular any opinion that might meet a predetermined expectation. However, at the same time the CIRC creates an impression that these are actually facts being reported, something that is absolutely not the case.
Anyone who worked with me while I was President of the UCI knows that my door was always open and that any member of the staff could walk in and see me, or call me. This happened all the time and was how we worked. I will not contest, though, the fact that staff members would discuss anti-doping issues first with Lon Schattenberg, or Philippe Verbiest, with whom they worked on a regular basis – and then Schattenberg or Verbiest would contact me if they thought it was appropriate in view of the importance of the matter. However, that does not mean that, at the same time, there was no direct contact between me and the UCI staff.
Any number of people can confirm this, if they had only been asked.
An equally vague and unsubstantiated allegation is the reference the CIRC makes to “opinions” that, on the one hand I would rarely interfere with anti-doping unit (ADU) operations directly, but on the other hand, I would go via Lon Schattenberg, or Philippe Verbiest, to implement operational decisions in order that I would have “a firm grip on the ADU decisions”.
The reality, however, is that I did not interfere with the ADU operations unless I was asked for advice, or instructions, and then only when the ADU people deemed it necessary to ask me.
Unlike the CIRC, the ADU people may have felt that I was entitled to be involved in anti-doping, not just because I was the president, but because I was someone who had long experience of the doping problem in cycling and could therefore offer insights or advice – as well as being the person ultimately responsible for what they did. Perhaps they sought my guidance and trusted my opinion.
Finally, where the CIRC talks about the “involvement”of the leadership, or possible “undue influence” or “inappropriate influence”(page 113), the CIRC signally fails to report even a single case where, in its opinion, my “involvement” or “influence” was “undue” or “inappropriate” or obstructed anti-doping and why. For the record, I have never given instructions not to test, not to target, or not to appeal to CAS.
In order to try to create an impression of covert wrongdoing, the CIRC refers (on page 104) to “secret meetings” between Lon Schattenberg, Philippe Verbiest and myself that have been reported to the Commission. I have no idea what it means with this observation. I was certainly not asked by the CIRC about these meetings, nor was Philippe Verbiest.
It is typical that the CIRC alludes to “secret meetings” involving three people, without bothering to ask a single question of any of the three people involved (even if only in writing), or indeed informing any of these three people that they had been accused of holding “secret meetings”.
Of course there were probably hundreds of meetings between Lon Schattenberg, Philippe Verbiest and myself – and hundreds more meetings with one or more UCI staff members that other staff members did not attend. My meetings with Schattenberg and Verbiest were no more or less secret than my meetings with any other people.
And, of course, the CIRC refers to the three of us as the ‘Dutch’ or ‘Flemish’ connection, simply because we speak the same language. Gosh! It all sounds so conspirational… so it must certainly therefore be included the CIRC report, which I am afraid in this instance is no better than a gossip magazine.
Instead of reporting gossip and innuendos, a serious investigative commission would not only have heard from all of the people concerned, in particular those that are accused, but would have examined:
As the CIRC reports that the decisions were “important”, then the CIRC must know what these decisions were – otherwise how did it reach that conclusion? So why does the CIRC not report these decisions?
My best guess is that the CIRC has no idea what these so-called decisions were – and indeed has no idea what they are talking about at all. Perhaps it does know what the decisions were but, because they were ‘good’ decisions, the CIRC did not feel able to report them. You can be certain of one thing: if they had been bad decisions, the CIRC would have had no hesitation in writing about them in great detail.
For the CIRC it is obviously not important what the subject matter is. The most important thing for the CIRC is to throw as many unsubstantiated allegations at me, even if by doing so there is unjustified collateral damage for other people who were innocently involved.
This includes my successor Pat McQuaid, who is “reported” to have remained under my “umbrella”. What nonsense! It is completely normal for any new president of an IF to consult with his predecessor and benefit from his experience. And that being said, there were many issues on which Pat McQuaid and I disagreed. But the CIRC didn’t bother to look into what was really going on – its concern was to report opinions that were pleasing to the ears of Brian Cookson and WADA.
And yes, I kept an office at the UCI, but only during the period of my Vice-Presidency. It is definitely not true that I was in that office “a lot of time”, as I had many occupations outside UCI and also, finally, a private life. If the CIRC had bothered to ask, I would have been able to give them all of the details, but of course they didn’t.
Conflicts of interests
On page 106 of the CIRC report, there is a section on “Conflicts of interest”.
It is only three and a half lines in the original text and reads as follows:
UCI leadership kept very close ties with some of the riders that were highly suspected of doping. This was seen as a source of conflict of interests, because UCI leadership regularly interfered with anti-doping operations. Conflicts of interests were present in particular in relation to Lance Armstrong as discussed in more detail below.
One would have expected that a serious investigative commission would have explained what those “very close ties” were and which riders were “highly suspected of doping”. This sort of conspiratorial mud slinging is worthy only of the popular press. A serious investigative commission would also have indicated who had viewed this as a conflict of interest and what alleged interference with anti-doping operations had created the conflict. But there was no such investigation. There is simply an statement that these conflicts of interests existed.
Apparently, the statement that “the UCI leadership kept very close ties with some of the riders that were highly suspected of doping” is based only on the sole case of Lance Armstrong. From one alleged case, the CIRC makes a hugely generalized statement, as if it were a common practice that had been investigated and found to be widespread.
I categorically deny that that I had very close ties with riders, whether “highly suspected of doping” or not. This includes Lance Armstrong. There have been riders with whom I had more contact (not “ties”) than I had with Armstrong.
Needless to say, the CIRC did not bother to ask me about this.
Conflicts with other stakeholders
Yet another example of the CIRC’s very biased approach is the section entitled “Constant fights with other major stakeholders”.
The CIRC declares that the UCI “wasted a lot of its time and resources fighting other important stakeholders in the sport”, taking “real or, often only, perceived conspiracies as an excuse”.
In other words, in the eyes of the CIRC, these fights were always the UCI’s fault, which is what the creators of the CIRC who were (or still are) in conflict with me wanted to hear.
But of course the CIRC does not bother to examine how and why these conflicts originated. The CIRC totally ignores all the details of these conflicts, details that I had presented to them. Nor does it examine whether the actions or defense undertaken by the UCI was justified or not. It does not examine whether it was the UCI, or the other party, that was responsible for the conflict, or whether the conflict was understandable and justified on both sides, as some conflicts may be. It does not state that the courts upheld the UCI’s claims that were not settled through agreement: the case against Mr Pound, who retracted the statements he made that caused the litigation, and the case against Floyd Landis.
The bias of the CIRC is further illustrated in footnote 106, where it quotes the (unjustified) criticism by AFLD concerning the testing program in the 2009 Tour de France. The CIRC mentions that this criticism prompted a strong reaction by the UCI, but it does not bother to quote the reaction, in particular the rebuttal of the AFLD criticisms. All the way through the report, the CIRC does not report what the other party says, if that party is the UCI under my Presidency.
The bias is also demonstrated in the CIRC statement saying that “there was some kind of battle between AFLD and UCI to get or stay in control of anti-doping performed at the Tour” of 2009. The CIRC – and in particular Ulrich Haas who worked extensively on the World Anti-Doping Code for WADA – knows perfectly well that, under the Code, the UCI and not AFLD was responsible for testing at an international competition such as the Tour de France in 2009 (article 15.1 of the Code). So if there was a battle, it is not the fault of the UCI. There should not even be a discussion: the Code is crystal clear on this issue.
It is also not correct that, in 2008, AFLD was “basically” in control, as the CIRC writes in footnote 160. AFLD was simply in complete control and the reason was that the 2008 Tour de France was organized by ASO as a national race, outside of the UCI calendar and therefore outside the UCI’s jurisdiction in anti-doping. (In the years prior to 2008, and from 2009 onwards, the Tour de France was an international race) The CIRC should have known this! This was one of the most important issues in the conflict between UCI and ASO. However, despite having the audacity to make opinionated statements about this conflict and blaming the UCI, the CIRC does not even know this basic fact. Or perhaps they did know it but did not feel comfortable mentioning it? Anyway, it demonstrates once again that the CIRC report is based on one-sided opinions and biased assumptions, not on facts.
Conflicts between WADA and UCI
The CIRC then outlines the so-called “battle” between the UCI and WADA (page 107).
This section omits a great deal of relevant information – and even provides disinformation, perhaps not so surprisingly – which shows both a lack of effort by the CIRC to get its facts right as well as a complete lack of objectivity.
The CIRC writes that “the relationship between WADA and UCI was from the beginning tense and is evidenced through several examples”.
The CIRC then proceeds to take individual incidents as “examples” of a tense relationship between the two organisations over a period of 13 years, while totally ignoring all of the positive aspects of the relationship between UCI and WADA. It is, after all, a fact of life that there are always incidents in any good relationship.
As the CIRC does throughout its report, a single negative element (or one that might only be perceived as negative) is conflated into being somehow representative of a whole set of elements, without bothering to examine any of the other elements, many of which are even positive.
The UCI supported the creation of WADA. I served on the board of WADA and invested a great deal of time in WADA until I resigned in 2002 for reasons that I explained in a letter to the WADA board.
In the meantime – and also following my departure from the WADA board – the UCI also contributed to WADA via its legal counsel, Philippe Verbiest who was a member of WADA’s legal committee (2000-2001), of the first WADA ad hoc list committee (2001-2003) and of the WADA legal working group (2005-2008). Verbiest made also contributions to the drafting and the revisions of the World Anti-Doping Code and of International Standards. WADA has more than once expressed its appreciation for his contributions to its work.
There has always been an excellent working relationship between Philippe Verbiest and WADA leadership, counsels and staff. They also worked together on a number of major doping cases (such as Valverde and Contador).
The same applies to Mario Zorzoli (and, later on, under Pat McQuaid) to Francesca Rossi, who was delegated by the UCI to participate in several WADA projects and activities.
In general, there has always been a good working relationship between WADA staff and UCI staff (and not just when Ann Gripper was on the staff, as the CIRC alleges on page 109).
The CIRC fails to note any of this excellent cooperation between UCI and WADA in its analysis.
UCI and the World Anti-Doping Code
The next example the CIRC quotes concerns the “WADA Code” (or rather the World Anti-Doping Code: WADA has always stressed that it is not WADA’s Code, but the Code of the entire sports world).
The CIRC offer the following statement: “…from the beginning, UCI in the shape of Hein Verbruggen and Philippe Verbiest strongly opposed the standard sanction of two years of ineligibility in case of a first ADRV that was advocated by most stakeholders of the Olympic Movement. Instead UCI lobbied for much lower sanctions as has been standard practice within UCI. … In 2004 the UCI leadership strongly criticized the WADA code sanctioning regime” (page 107).
The sole evidence for this simplistic and biased misrepresentation of the UCI’s position is based on a media quote attributed to me, saying that “…a two-year blanket ban will not work, and the judge will seek arguments not to give it. You may be guilty, but there may be circumstantial evidence to say two years is a lot of time for this. The result is the guilty might go totally unpunished.”
What Verbiest and I were opposed to was indeed (as stated by the CIRC) a standard sanction, or a blanket ban, of two years.
Our “opposition” was over the issue of imposing too rigid sanctions, which we believed would be put under threat from national legislation because of the principle of proportionality.
Furthermore, the UCI was not the only organisation to disagree with the sanctioning system proposed in the Code. For example, Michel Boyon of the French NADO said at the Copenhagen Conference of 2003 that the Code’s sanctions needed to be reviewed. Also, Professor Denis Oswald, the Dutch National Olympic Committee, Germany’s Minister of the Interior, CAS President Judge Mbaye, IOC Medical Commission President Alexandre de Merode, the Advisory Group on Legal Issues of the Council of Europe’s Anti-doping Convention, FIFA and others all criticized the rigidity of the sanctions system under the Code – not to mention the many academics that reject the strict liability principle adopted by the Code.
The detailed and substantiated argumentation in the UCI’s papers and letters on this issue, which have been ignored by the CIRC, show that the UCI’s opposition was not to defend dopers, as the CIRC suggests, but was out of concern for proportionate sanctions that would be upheld if challenged before national courts. This would both avoid costly litigation, as well as the risk that cheaters might get away with their actions.
The Code is about much more than just sanctions. Criticizing the sanctions system in the Code should not be viewed as opposing the Code as a whole; in fact, as outlined above, the UCI contributed significantly to developing the Code, as well as its revisions – and several of the Code’s clauses were inspired by the UCI anti-doping regulations.
I refer to the statement that the UCI made at the Copenhagen Conference. It shows that the UCI’s position was much more favorable to the Code than the CIRC wants to make readers believe. As usual, the CIRC makes no mention this document. The first and the two last paragraphs say:
The UCI welcomes the World Anti-Doping Code.
The Code is like a new house. It is an architectural masterpiece that is attractive and creates enthusiasm by itself. But only time will tell how practical and comfortable it will be to live in for all stakeholders.
The UCI feels quite confident and will, in the interest of its sport and its athletes, use all opportunities that the Code provides to improve, wherever possible, its own doping and health control system that still stands as a recognised example for many.
Comparing the 2003 Code with the updated 2015 Code, which has a far more flexible sanctioning regime, it is clear that these statements were not as negative as the CIRC would like to make out.
It is also unfair for the CIRC to criticize the UCI sanctions but then omit to mention what these sanctions actually were. Since 1994, the UCI’s sanctions have been gradually and steadily increased. From 1 July 2001 – in other words three years before the Code – the standard sanction for a first anti-doping rule violation was a suspension for at least two years. Under the Code, it was (and still is) two years. For a second offense, or for a first offense of intentional doping, the UCI’s sanction was a suspension for a minimum of four years up to and including suspension for life (Article 130). This is much harsher than under the 2003 Code.
The difference between the UCI’s rules and the Code was that, under the UCI rules, the sanctions could be reduced on a sliding scale by up to 75%, taking into account any relevant facts and particular circumstances. The aim of this was to ensure whatever sanction was imposed was proportionate to all of the circumstances (as is the case in national legislation), while under the Code the reduction is limited up to 50% and can only be based upon non-significant fault, or negligence. In this context it should not be forgotten that (since 1 November 1994) it was CAS and not UCI that has the authority to make rulings in the final instance and therefore set the sanction.
It is also noteworthy that the 2015 Code contains a far more flexible sanctioning system than the 2003 Code and that the changes introduced in the updated Code confirm that the UCI was correct in defending the principle of proportionality. In particular, by expanding and softening the regime of the specified substances, it is possible to impose much more lenient sanctions under the 2015 Code than under the 2001 UCI anti-doping regulations.
Some people criticized the UCI for included the following clause in its rules adopted in July 2004:
“…These Anti-Doping Rules concerning sanctions and consequences shall be construed and implemented in compliance with human rights and general principles of law, among which proporitionality and individual case management” (Article 255).
(For the avoidance of all doubt, and also to rebut the CIRC’s attempt to portray the Code a cause of conflict between UCI and WADA, I would add that this clause was accepted by WADA as Code-compliant).
I would then draw attention to the following clause that has been added to the definition of the World Anti-Doping Code in its 2015 edition:
“The Code has been drafted giving consideration to the principles of proportionality and human rights.”
This is not the only echo of the UCI’s (pre-Code) anti-doping rules in the Code.
The UCI was in favour of sanctions being set by the hearing body (which is CAS in the final instance) between a minimum-maximum range, as is the legal norm in Western Europe – nor was the UCI the only organization to favour this position.
I believe it is shameful, therefore, that the CIRC presents the UCI’s position as somehow being ‘lenient towards doping and as opposing WADA and the Code. This is just another echo of Dick Pound’s anti-UCI diatribe.
Once the Code was adopted at the Conference in Copenhagen in 2003, the UCI adopted and applied anti-doping rules that were completely Code-compliant. WADA has always recognized that fact.
So this brings me onto the statement, made in the CIRC report (and which also echoes the sneaky accusations trumpeted by Dick Pound) that “the UCI was one of the last federations to accept the WADA Code”.
This parroting of Pound’s sneaky allegation is not really a surprise, but it nevertheless remains completely unacceptable given that the CIRC had all of the information about how the UCI had proceeded, not only in accepting the Code, but also in implementing it.
Under the UCI constitution, the adoption of new anti-doping rules in compliance with the Code is the exclusive jurisdiction of the UCI’s management committee (MC).
After the Code was accepted at the Copenhagen Conference of 2003, the UCI carried out research into the implications of the Code for UCI’s anti-doping rules. This was necessary for the MC to be able to make an informed decision on the acceptance of the Code. This study was presented to the MC at its meeting in January 2004. WADA was informed about this. Based upon this study, the MC accepted the implications of the Code and asked Philippe Verbiest to draft new anti-doping rules. The new anti-doping regulations were submitted to the MC at its subsequent meeting on 22-23 July 2004, well within the deadline set by the Code. At that meeting, the MC adopted both the new anti-doping rules as well as the Code that was incorporated in those rules.
For UCI, it was logical that the Code should be accepted in complete knowledge of all the rules that resulted from that Code.
The CIRC report does not mention how many Federations accepted the Code before (or after) the UCI. In any case, this would be totally irrelevant as long as the IFs accepted the Code within the stipulated deadline.
More important, the CIRC does not say how many International Federations also implemented the Code by adopting completely Code-compliant regulations, either before or after the UCI.
I am pretty certain that the UCI was one of the first IF’s to adopt fully Code-compliant anti-doping rules, but naturally you won’t read that in the CIRC’s report. What I do know for certain is that, even in 2012, there were still a number of International Federations whose anti-doping rules were still not Code-compliant.
The CIRC simply ignored all the information that was available to them – and instead simply copy-pasted Dick Pound’s biased diatribes, presenting them as facts.
Other conflicts with WADA
On page 107 of its report, the CIRC mentions the salbutamol case involving Gonzalo de Galdeano in the 2002 Tour, but it then fails to explain what it was all about. WADA publicly claimed that the rider had committed an anti-doping rule violation. In fact, this was not the case. In a nutshell, WADA was wrong, but was naturally unwilling to admit its failure. There is nothing so wrong in WADA making a mistake. But what was completely unacceptable is that WADA publicly accused the rider of being guilty of doping and reproached the UCI for not prosecuting him. Of course, the CIRC does not mention that WADA was wrong. Instead, the story is, as usual, framed as the UCI fighting other organisations and wasting time and money.
The CIRC mentions the Independent Observer Report of the 2003 Tour de France. That report contained a number of unjustified remarks that have since been rebutted by the UCI. In addition, as the CIRC notes, the report was leaked to the press before the UCI had the opportunity to review it and to correct errors where applicable. It was only normal, therefore, that the UCI did not want to repeat the experience (nevertheless UCI invited another Independent Observer mission at the 2010 Tour de France).
WADA never did answer the UCI’s comments on the Independent Observer Report, a fair indication that these comments were justified. However, to be fair, WADA published the UCI’s comments on its website in the form of annotations in the original report.
The CIRC, on the other hand, does not even behave that fairly – it completely fails to mention the UCI’s comments at all, as well as the reasons why the UCI rejected the IO report. It does not even provide a link to the annotated report. In footnote 163, the CIRC provides a link to the original version only, the version that does not contain the UCI’s comments.
Hein Verbruggen and Dick Pound
Pages 107-109 of the report are worth examining in more detail, as they provide an excellent example of the CIRC’s misleading rhetoric.
The section starts as follows: “A crippling impacting factor for the relationship between WADA and UCI was, besides a personal conflict between Hein Verbruggen and Dick Pound…”
But then, the personal conflict between Pound and me is brushed aside, apart from the following passage on page 93:
“…In 2001, Dick Pound was a candidate to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch but he was beaten by the Belgian Jacques Rogge, who was supported by Hein Verbruggen. It was reported to the CIRC that this was the main reason and starting point of the conflict between the two men.
As will be explained below, it is the CIRC’s view that the conflict between these two men as well as their very different philosophies of fighting doping in sport soured the relationship between UCI and WADA, which adversely affected the fight against doping.”
The CIRC offers no more information about the issues underpinning this personal conflict. Is this because they knew nothing about them? Or sloppiness perhaps? Or is it to shield Dick Pound?
I explained to the CIRC at great length the reasons why I believe Pound has been obsessively pursuing a long campaign against me in revenge for my support to Jacques Rogge – and even revenge on Jacques Rogge by attacking me and cycling, a sport that Rogge supported, including for its efforts against doping. In addition, Pound has used his position as WADA President to conduct this campaign.
This personal campaign waged against me constituted an important part (attachment 10a) of the report that I submitted to the CIRC on 13 August 2014. The CIRC has not deigned to investigate this. No surprise, because it is not so favourable for Pound or WADA.
Then the CIRC states that “…it was the UCI’s opinion that WADA should not interfere with internal matters and affairs of cycling”. My question here is: what is so wrong with that opinion? Who, among WADA’s other stakeholders, would disagree?
I can’t imagine that this opinion was not shared by WADA itself – and I don’t recall that, at any time during my presidency, WADA interfered with the internal affairs of the UCI, apart from one instance during the conflict between UCI and ASO, when Pound indelicately held a meeting with ASO.
The only other instance I am aware of (which took place after my presidency) when WADA interfered with the internal affairs of the UCI is when WADA attended a meeting of a group named “Change Cycling Now”, which was coordinating and financing opposition to Pat McQuaid prior to the 2013 UCI presidential elections. This not mean, however, that there were no other “indelicacies”, such as inviting notorious anti-UCI people like Greg Lemond to a WADA Board meeting, while refusing to allow Pat McQuaid to be heard on the Armstrong affair.
As “evidence” for this bizarre statement by the CIRC (that the UCI believed that WADA should not interfere with its internal affairs), the CIRC refers on page 108, in footnote 165, to a press quote. (Media quotes appear to be the CIRC’s preferred form of evidence, rather than the thousands and thousands of pages contained in the UCI files).
Anyone reading that press quote will look in vain for any reproach by the UCI relating to WADA interfering with the internal affairs of the UCI. On the contrary, the quote concerns my statement that Dick Pound was insulting governments and federations and throwing mud at innocent athletes (a fact for which Pound has been twice sanctioned by the IOC Ethics Commission, two very relevant facts that are ignored by the CIRC). The quote was also about my view – shared by most if not all of WADA’s stakeholders – that WADA should be an aid agency for sport and not a police agency against sport.
The CIRC continues by saying that “according to UCI, WADA’s role was to assist sports federations, but not to criticise them or interfere in the governance of the federation’s (anti-doping) policy. Of course, it is well known that, from the very beginning, WADA assumed a different role”.
As indicated above, the UCI’s opinion on WADA’s role is shared by other WADA stakeholders. But naturally, the only opinion that counts for the CIRC is Dick Pound’s. To justify its statement that “it is well known that from the beginning WADA assumed a different role” the CIRC refers only to a quote by Pound in a media article. And what exactly did Pound say: “we are not JUST a support agency, quite the opposite…. WADA is the international agency whose job is to report on compliance and non-compliance with the code”.
So, for the CIRC, this forms the basis for its definition of WADA’s role “from the beginning”, even though the quote dates from August 2004, whereas WADA was created in 1999.
The CIRC cares not a jot for the opinions of WADA’s stakeholders, even less about WADA’s constitution where WADA’s roles are clearly listed. These apparently carry no weight for the CIRC by comparison with the word of Pound.
Pound was smart enough to say that WADA is not just a support agency, so admitting at least that providing support is one of WADA’s roles. Pound adds that WADA’s job includes reporting on compliance and non-compliance with the Code. Nobody, myself included, has ever contested that this is WADA’s role: it is written in the Code (Article 23.4).
The CIRC seems not to know that, while it considers Pound’s statement as the basis for the role of WADA and for the unjustified criticisms publicly levelled by WADA against UCI, WADA has never stated that the UCI was not compliant. WADA never has initiated a non-compliance procedure against UCI, or raised concerns that might merit initiating an investigation on non-compliance.
WADA’s (or more specifically Pound’s) criticism of UCI which triggered the UCI reactions was public naming and shaming, and had nothing to do with any non-compliance with the Code.
The CIRC continues: “Any interference or criticism by WADA in relation to UCI’s anti-doping policy, or the sheer mention that cycling had a doping problem, was perceived by the UCI leadership as completely unacceptable and seemed to have been interpreted as a personal attack on the UCI leadership”.
No – WADA’s criticism was unacceptable because it was wrong and unjustified. The CIRC carefully avoids giving information about this (although it had the information in its possession). But providing this information would demonstrate that the UCI’s reactions were totally justified. The CIRC also provides false information when it writes that the mere mention that cycling had a doping problem was perceived as unacceptable and a personal attack. The UCI was very well aware that cycling had a problem, as the CIRC knew, if only by quoting from my presentation on doping on page 131, where I said: “doping is a crucial problem for cycling”.
The problem was not that Pound stated that cycling had a doping problem- the UCI acknowledged this – the problem was that Pound falsely and provocatively stated that the UCI was denying that there was a doping problem in cycling.
The CIRC is extremely careful not to quote response from the UCI. So, looking into any of the background, the CIRC feels completely free to write – without providing any grounds or justification – that the reaction by UCI was “excessive”.
What reaction precisely? The first time Pound levelled these false allegations, the UCI told him it would take him to court; the second time, the UCI did take Mr Pound to court. Both times, Pound retracted his statements and added that no offense was meant. All of the evidence for this, including the statements signed by Pound, the CIRC had in its possession.
But the CIRC doesn’t mention any of it, instead only referring to a couple of media quotes that mean nothing compared with the evidence available to the CIRC. The only exception is the UCI’s request to the court, quoted in footnote 169 on page 109. But, of course, the Pound’s retraction is not mentioned, let alone quoted.
Even the sections of the report I submitted to the CIRC, as well as the evidence that concerns these conflicts with Pound and WADA, are completely ignored by the CIRC in the very part of its report that deals with these conflicts. WADA and Pound’s roles are kept out of sight, out of mind.
I deal separately and in more detail with the different conflicts between WADA/Pound and the UCI. I also refer to my report to the CIRC of 13 August 2014.
The CIRC continues on page 109 by providing more generalities.
“Defamation suits over anti-doping related issues were brought by Hein Verbruggen/Pat McQuaid also against other stakeholders in cycling and got high media coverage. It seemed to have been part of UCI’s strategy to threaten and/or serve their opponents or critics with legal actions, be it before state courts or ethical commissions (see below). Such legal actions would sometimes be preceded or accompanied by staged “open letters” of Hein Verbruggen’s network within the sporting community to important decision-makers (see e.g. Vrijman-affair, Schenk-affair). These actions highlight the absence of a culture of dialogue as well as an inability to accept different opinions.”
As always the CIRC avoids specifying what these disputes were about. The UCI and I have endured a great deal of criticism for many years, without undertaking any legal action at all.
Legal action was undertaken in a very few cases, in particular when the UCI and its president(s) were accused of being corrupt and/or complicit in doping. Legal action was taken against Dick Pound (once), against Floyd Landis (once) and against Paul Kimmage (once). That is the sum total. And that legal action was not taken because of criticism, but because of libel. The legal action had a precise object: to prevent these people from making false accusations of corruption or complicity with doping, because these accusations are false, as the CIRC itself has confirmed.
And naturally the CIRC does not mention that the court agreed with the UCI in the case against Landis. Nor does the CIRC does not mention either that the Swiss courts rejected completely the criminal complaint by Paul Kimmage against me and Pat McQuaid.
I will deal separately with the Vrijman and the Schenk affairs.
I see the final note quoted above as a warning and as a disaster for the world of sport: the CIRC sees the extremely rare legal actions of the UCI – without bothering to examine their justification – as “highlighting the absence of a culture of dialogue as well as an inability to accept different opinions”.
In a democratic society, having recourse to law is a fundamental right. If a case is completely unjustified, the court will normally sanction the claimant. In addition, in the world of sports there are situations where recourse to a court is the only way to settle a dispute. This applies in particular to WADA, as there is no authority to appeal to in the event of a conflict with WADA. This makes WADA behave as an “absolute authority”, as indeed WADA called itself in a letter to the UCI of 26 January 2013. The CIRC could have been a unique opportunity for an independent body to look into the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. This opportunity has been missed.
The fate of the Independent Commission set up by the UCI in 2012, without the involvement of WADA, and the setting up of the CIRC between UCI and WADA demonstrate how WADA wants to dominate any investigation in the world of doping in order to ensure that its own actions will not be scrutinised.
An even more telling example is that Pound will preside over the commission looking into the situation with Russian athletics, revealed by the German television. If there is a serious doping issue in a major sport and in a major country under WADA’s watch – and, according to the CIRC, with the right to interfere – then one surely needs to know to what extent, if any, WADA bears responsibility for this situation.
You can be sure that, with Dick Pound in the driving seat on that investigation, WADA will emerge unscathed and unscrutinised.