Retired Judge Otton To Lead UCI’s Armstrong Probe

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GENEVA, Nov 30, 2012 (AFP) – A former high-level judge will lead an
independent probe into the cycling world governing body’s handling of the
Lance Armstrong doping scandal, the organization announced Friday.

The panel, to be headed by former England and Wales appeals court judge Sir
Philip Otton, “will look into the issues and allegations contained in the
(United States Anti-Doping Agency) USADA decision relating to the Armstrong
affair,” the International Cyling Union (UCI) said on its website.

The commission’s eventual report and recommendations “are critical to
restoring confidence in the sport of cycling” and in the governing body
itself, UCI president Pat McQuaid said in a statement.

He insisted his organization would “listen to and act on the commission’s
recommendations”.

The International Council of Arbitration for Sport had appointed the
members of the commission which also includes UK House of Lords peer and
paralympic champion Tanni Grey-Thompson and Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes,
UCI said.

“The appointment of these three eminent figures demonstrates clearly that
the UCI wants to get to the bottom of the Lance Armstrong affair and put
cycling back on the right track,” said McQuaid.

A hearing is scheduled to be held in London from April 9 to 26 next year,
and the commission will submit its report to the UCI by June 1, the statement
said.

“Rather than simply attacking the UCI, our critics now have an opportunity
to be part of the solution,” McQuaid said.

It remains to be seen though whether the inquiry’s recommendations will be
enough to satisfy the federation’s many critics, who are furious about the
UCI’s handling of the debacle, which culminated last month in Armstrong being
stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

On Thursday, triple Tour de France champion Greg LeMond backed a new
campaign for a more robust anti-doping drive in cycling.

The group, Change Cycling Now (CCN), includes former fellow competitors
Jonathan Vaughters, an ex-teammate of Armstrong who now heads up the Garmin
team.

And at the start of the month, Australian sports clothing firm SKINS
threatened to sue the UCI for $2.0 million (1.5 million euros), alleging the
organisation harmed the company’s image by failing to crack down on doping and
run a clean sport.

The sports clothing manufacturer said UCI’s treatment of the Armstrong case
and the fight against doping was responsible for a loss of confidence in
professional cycling by fans.

The UCI athletes’ commission also recommended earlier this month tougher
sanctions for dope cheats in a bid to improve how the sport is run and boost
its tarnished image.

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