The Union Cycliste Internationale has today issued a long statement concerning its take on the 'Armstrong affair'. The World Doping Authority's president - Dick Pound - comes in for strong criticism from the UCI. Pound read the L'Equipe story accusing Lance Armstong of using EPO in 1999 and said that it was probable that Armstrong was guilty. Never mind whether the EPO test used can be considered accurate, the leaking of confidential athlete information is against WADA's own doping protocols. The WADA president has already been criticised by his second-in-command for "unwise comments".

UCI rounds on Pound

UCI DECLARATION : 1999 Tour de France samples analysis

As we announced on Monday, August 29, 2005, the Union Cycliste Internationale (“UCI”) is undertaking an investigation into the recent press reports from France. The article published by the French newspaper L’Equipe concerned testing apparently conducted by a French laboratory of urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France. Our initial investigation has identified a great many issues and we are in the process of gathering the information we need. The UCI is currently unable to express any judgement on these cases, as it does not have sufficient information.

The UCI has not, to date, received any official information or document.

WADA believes that they have no jurisdiction over this matter, given that it apparently relates to urine samples collected in 1999, before WADA was created. Moreover, WADA has told the UCI that on the basis of the reports of the research done and methods used in this case, no disciplinary procedure could be opened against the riders concerned and that in their view, the organization responsible for investigating is the UCI. In light of WADA’s position on this matter, the UCI has assumed all responsibility for investigating the matter. WADA has stated its willingness to assist the UCI with its investigation

We have substantial concerns about the impact of this matter on the integrity of the overall drug testing regime of the Olympic movement, and in particular the questions it raises over the trustworthiness of some of the sports and political authorities active in the anti-doping fight. The UCI reiterates that at this point we have no information at all about the testing apparently done in Châtenay-Malabry, who authorized or commissioned that testing, the reason for the testing or the manner in which the testing was conducted.

We have sent letters to WADA, as well as an initial questionnaire to the French laboratory, seeking comprehensive information about the background facts and what brought about the situation that we are investigating. Amongst the significant questions we have, the most important which remain unanswered are the following:

– Who commissioned and directed this research and who agreed to the public dissemination of the results?

– How could this be done without the riders’ consent?

– Why was the UCI not informed?

– How is it that the journalist apparently received WADA’s official reaction on the possibility of continuing the research with the remaining urine samples, and on possible sanctions, on 22 August (see l’Equipe’s article of 23 August), when WADA apparently received the information on these results only on 24 August?

– The dissemination of the results being a breach of WADA’s anti-doping code, did WADA itself authorise this step?

– Has this apparent research on the 1999 Tour de France been widened to other sports events in France in the same year (Roland Garros, football World Cup) – why was the Tour de France chosen?

Awaiting plausible answers, the UCI confirms its commitment to investigate how and why confidential information was disclosed to members of the news media. In particular, we deplore the fact that the long-established and entrenched confidentiality principle could be violated in such a flagrant way, without any respect for fair play and the rider’s privacy. This aspect forms part of our thorough and vigorous investigation into this matter.

We regret once more, that WADA’s President Mr. Pound made public statements about the likely guilt of an athlete on the basis of a newspaper article and without all the facts being known, and we appreciate that WADA’s Vice-President Mr. Mikkelsen has stepped in to state that Mr. Pound’s allegations were unwise.

As for the article itself, the author claims to have been working on the story for four months, when in fact it seems that his “investigation” was limited to receiving confidential information related to testing conducted by the laboratory and confidential doping control documents, including confidential documents which he was able to consult at the UCI after receiving, under false pretext, the authorization of Lance Armstrong . His subsequent public statements tend to confirm that he was targeting a particular athlete and that the newspaper was only given doping control forms relating to this athlete.

We are awaiting information that we have requested from WADA and the laboratory, and we may be seeking information from the French Ministry of Sports and others. Once we have received all of the documents that exist about the testing and the disclosure of information, and depending on the cooperation we receive from the individuals and organizations involved, we are aiming to conclude our investigation as soon as possible.

Finally, the UCI wishes to express the wish that governments, sports authorities and anti-doping authorities, which rightly expect honest and irreproachable ethical behaviour from sports men and women, themselves respect the fundamental obligation of fair play and examine possible sanctions which could be adopted, should infractions be discovered on the part of any of those bodies.

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