UCI opens talks on setting up independent investigation into handling of drug scandals

Associated Press

LONDON - The International Cycling Union has opened discussions with the World Anti-Doping Agency to set up an independent investigation into the cycling body's handling of past drug scandals.

The UCI was criticized for not doing enough to catch American rider Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting to doping. His admission followed an investigation by the U.S. Ant-Doping Agency.

New UCI President Brian Cookson, who defeated incumbent Pat McQuaid in an election two weeks ago, based his campaign on restoring trust in the UCI and rebuilding the organization's fractious relationship with anti-doping bodies.

"We have started the work of establishing a high level dialogue with WADA to plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI's past," Cookson said in a statement Friday. "We have also been making contact with other key stakeholders in this area, including USADA, other national anti-doping organizations and the French Sports Ministry."

The UCI had been accused of being complicit in Armstrong's doping.

Cookson also said the UCI has decided to drop a lawsuit filed against Irish journalist Paul Kimmage, a former Tour rider who spent many years reporting on Armstrong and doping issues.

UCI director general Christophe Hubschmid and lawyer Philippe Verbiest, who had both been heavily involved in McQuaid's administration, have left the organization, with Antonio Rigozzi now assisting in legal matters, Cookson said.

"These early days are very important for the UCI," Cookson from Beijing, where he is attending the Tour of Beijing. "We have embarked on the process of implementing our manifesto commitments so that we can re-establish our international federation's reputation and make it the best and most respected in the world. I believe that we have made a good start."

Cookson said most of the new presidents of the UCI commissions have been appointed, the UCI has revoked the age limit of 28 for UCI women's teams; and a new women's cycling commission will be formed to promote the growth of women's elite racing.

Cookson also plans to meet new IOC President Thomas Bach and Carlos Nuzman, head of the organizing committee for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the coming weeks.

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