The CIRC Report

The UCI’s Cycling Independent Reform Commission (“CIRC”) has published its report. It’s not a gripping read, this is a report on the corporate policy of institution a decade ago. But buried in the 228 pages are revelations, there is strong criticism of those running the UCI in the past and it puts the spotlight back on contemporary doping practices.

To reduce it to one sentence the report says the UCI was lax for many years but believes doping continues today, albeit on a reduced scale and the UCI needs to implement anti-doping and governance reforms. Let’s take a closer look.

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One Year On from the USADA Verdict

One year ago the UCI gave its response to USADA’s reasoned decision and the ban imposed on Lance Armstrong. The media was convened to a hotel in Switzerland where Pat McQuaid announced the UCI accepted USADA’s verdict and it would ban Armstrong and strip him of almost all his results.

For a moment it prised open the UCI and its decision-making process but in the weeks and months that followed the UCI seemed to regress back towards obstruction and bizarre press releases. What’s happened since?

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The UCI, Lance Armstrong and the 2001 “suspicious test”

On his way to winning the Tour of Switzerland in 2001, Lance Armstrong underwent several anti-doping controls. On two occasions in this race Armstrong’s samples were suspicious with data suggesting the strong probability of EPO use but crucially not firm enough to launch a formal prosecution.

A major athlete with strong suspicions of heavy doping? You’d think this would have set red lights flashing and alarm bells ringing within the UCI. Did it?

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Leaked UCI Documents

According to leaked memos seen by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad Lance Armstrong tested positive four times in the 1999 Tour de France. Sounds dramatic, no?

Only if parts of the media are reporting this as news (here, here or here) it turns out the UCI mentioned all of this last year in a press release. But whilst news of Armstrong’s positive test is stale as a baguette baked months ago, there’s some fresh insight because the memos appear to show the UCI positioning itself to explain past actions. Rather than analysing what went wrong the memos appear to be trying to present excuses for significant lapses in the UCI’s anti-doping procedures.

The same with the leaked information about Armstrong’s 2001 Tour de Suisse EPO tests. Whilst the media (ici) says there was no “cover-up” of a positive test there are still big questions that have yet to be answered.

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Should the UCI have Disqualified Armstrong in 1999?

Le Monde made some serious allegations against the UCI yesterday. The French newspaper accuses cycling’s governing body of “covering for Lance Armstrong” and even alleges that they accepted a “falsified document” to help Armstrong escape a doping ban in 1999.

Some these tales have been doing the rounds before but paper published the documents relating to the controls in July 1999. Now a backdated and falsified document is a very serious charge. But I can reveal another document from 1999 that should have seen Armstrong ejected from the Tour de France: the UCI rulebook.

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Questions after The Oprah Show

Armstrong Oprah

Everyone seems to have a verdict on the Oprah show. Reviewing last night’s TV would be a novelty for this blog so if you want a good take see Bonnie Ford on ESPN for a strong piece that goes from body language to the big picture.

Given we already knew Armstrong was doping, there were not many answers to long standing questions during the show. In fact we got some revelations that only bring more questions. Here are questions for Armstrong, for the sport, its officials, the media and even the riders.

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Lance Armstrong’s Road to Redemption

Armstrong Oprah Winfrey

Lance Armstrong to confess to doping? Thanks to USADA there’s already hundreds of pages of evidence. At first the Oprah Winfrey interview looked like a celebrity stunt. Only the story now seems to be going a step further with reports that Armstrong will testify against senior UCI officials, shifting the story away from sofa interview into the saddle of pro cycling.

But the road to redemption will make riding seven Tours look easy. For starters if he wants to reduce his ban, getting it shorter than eight years looks tough and that’s just confronting the textual certainty of the WADA Code. Changing public opinion is altogether different.

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Sunday Shorts

Albert Bourlon

Pierre Cogan died just days short of his 99th birthday. He was eleventh in the 1935 Tour and seventh in the 1950 Tour, his career cut in half by war. But he’d been known for an alternative longevity, that as the oldest Tour de France rider.

Now the title falls to 96 year old Albert Bourlon (pictured). It can’t be something to celebrate, as if you’re next in the starting hut for a time trial and there’s a clock ticking, only hopefully this time the ramp goes upwards.

But Bourlon could be an eternal rider for he holds the record for the longest solo breakaway in the Tour de France. He was away for 253km across the South of France, from Carcassonne and Luchon, to win Stage 14 in 1947.

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Sunday Shorts

Froome Dolphin

Dauphin in French means dolpin but also runner-up so it’s fitting that Tour de France and Team Sky Number Two Chris Froome gets to dance with a dolphin in waters near Curaçao.

It’s all part of the end-of-season festivities on the Caribbean Dutch colony which conclude with two races The Amstel beer brand gets to promote a race and the holiday resort gets lots of publicity with happy-looking cyclists enjoying themselves in sunny weather. Technically the races are illegal for the pros. UCI rules say they can’t compete in unsanctioned competitions but nobody cares, it’s the rule that is at fault more than the riders.

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The UCI Purge Lance Armstrong From History

Armstrong Wiggins 2009

News today that the UCI has decided not to re-allocated the results of the Tour de France from 1999-2005 is everywhere. Lance Armstrong vanishes from the results and the result from these years will be left blank.

But let’s look beyond this as there are more issues to consider. From with the decision on his Olympic medal, Bradley Wiggins climbs on the podium of the 2009 Tour de France… and I think it’s possible that the UCI could be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Ivan Basso or Andreas Klöden so that they can claim their rightful Tour de France win. In theory that is.

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