The fallout from the scandal involving disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong could see the sport of cycling dropped from the Olympic Games.
The doubts over cycling’s future as an Olympic sport stem from a two part interview with Oprah Winfrey which US former cyclist Lance Armstrong gave earlier this week and scheduled to air later this week. There are concerns that Lance Armstrong may implicate cycling’s governing body, the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), suggesting that the UCI was complicit or at least turned a blind eye to doping practices in the sport for years, reports Velonews.
According to Yahoo Sport, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound, who is also a former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told Reuters,
“We could say, 'look, you've clearly got a problem why don't we give you four years, eight years to sort it out. And when you think you're ready come on back we'll see whether it would be a good idea to put you back on the program."
"The only way it (cycling) is going to clean up is if all these people say 'hey, we're no longer in the Olympics and that's where we want to be so let's earn our way back into it. The IOC would have to deal with it, the (UCI) is not known for its strong actions to anti-doping. It was the same in weightlifting a few years ago, all of a sudden when you get right up against it things go fuzzy and they say, 'well, we can't punish innocent athletes in these sports by dropping the sport from the program.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Pound has been a long standing critic of the UCI. Pound is reported as having said back in October, reacting to suggestions that Armstrong might have bribed UCI officials, that it was just “not credible” that the UCI wasn’t aware of what was going on.
An independent enquiry was commissioned by the UCI in November 2012 to investigate Armstrong and allegations of corrupt practices to cover up failed doping tests. The enquiry is scheduled to report back in June 2013 but was thrown into confusion yesterday when one of its constituent members, the World Anti Doping Agency, withdrew claiming that the enquiry was too focused on Lance Armstrong, ESPN reports.
The withdrawal of the World Anti Doping Agency from the enquiry leaves the UCI with a credibility problem before the intended enquiry has properly got off the ground.
Today, manoeuvres continued with the UCI Independent Commission announcing it would be holding a ‘truth and reconciliation’ public hearing despite the UCI’s reservations, according to Reuters. In a statement issued this morning the UCI Independent Commission said, "The Commission is of the view that ... such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the Commission at its hearing in April 2013.The Commission, via the Solicitors to the Inquiry, has written to the UCI's solicitors, urging the UCI to reconsider its position."