John Fahey Says Cycling Has ‘Crisis of Confidence

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by Julian Guyer

LONDON, Feb 12, 2013 (AFP) – Cycling faces a “crisis of confidence” over
doping after the Lance Armstrong scandal, World Anti-Doping Agency head John
Fahey said on Tuesday, as he called for tougher laws to combat drugs in sport
and society.

WADA and the International Cycling Union (UCI) have been at loggerheads
over how to proceed since a damning US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier led
to the Texan rider being stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles
for drugs offences.

Fahey told a London news conference on Tuesday that he had received a
letter from the UCI late Monday suggesting the creation of a new inquiry to
include four UCI members but not the governing body’s president, Pat McQuaid.

The UCI, facing questions about how Armstrong was able to dope undetected
for so long and alleged complicity, recently shut down its own independent
commission over its role in the case, saying it preferred a “truth and
reconciliation” process.

But a scathing Fahey said talk of “truth and reconciliation” was just
“fancy words” that should be “left where they had some meaning in
(post-apartheid) South Africa”.

The blunt-speaking Australian added: “Cycling has a problem, a crisis of
confidence. Only cycling can heal the problems cycling has… How long will
the members (of the UCI) allow cycling to lurch from one crisis to another?

“It is not WADA’s job to sort out the doping problems that may exist within
a certain sport — that is the responsibility of the sport.

“WADA is here to help and to offer expert advice but it is not mandated to
cure the doping ills that have been allowed to build up within individual
sports over the last decades.”

Fahey said the USADA inquiry had shown blood and urine tests were not the
only way to catch dope cheats, adding that detailed corroboration of witness
statements and testimony from fellow riders were a major weapon in the fight
against drugs in sport.

But Fahey, who steps down at the end of his maximum six-year term as
president later this year, said the prime responsibility for the Armstrong
affair remained with the cyclist himself.

“It is not an excuse to say that other riders were doping and therefore I
also had to cheat. It is not an excuse to say that riders in the Tour de
France have been seeking an edge ever since the race was founded 100 years
ago,” he told reporters.

“The reality is that Mr Armstrong cheated for more than a decade, bullied
others into cheating, bullied those who would dare to expose his cheating, and
to this day continues to manipulate the facts for his own benefit.”

Fahey also called for governments to stiffen national laws in the fight
against performance-enhancing drugs.

Their use extended beyond the realm of elite competition to criminality, as
highlighted by the recent Australian Crime Commission report into links
between organised crime and drugs in sport, he explained.

“We hear about students using some form of drug as a study aid and members
of the security services using steroids to increase their physicality to get
stronger and supposedly less vulnerable,” he said.

“We need for governments around the world to accept that doping is a
societal problem. There needs to be legislation in place that enables
effective mechanisms to identify doping and effective mechanisms to deal with
them.”

Sports officials had to do more, he said, adding: “Sport too needs to stop
procrastinating and to make a real stand against this continuing trend to
cheat.”

Fahey’s comments, however, came on the same day as global athletes’ group
UNI Sport Pro slammed WADA.

“The Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the Australian Crime Commission
investigations demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the current WADA testing
regime,” it said.

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