/ Cycling

Cycling witnesses could have bans reduced

Updated: Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 16:15 | Comments

Brian Cookson insists until evidence is heard, no decision can be made on the length of a ban reduction
Brian Cookson insists until evidence is heard, no decision can be made on the length of a ban reduction

Witnesses who give evidence about doping to cycling's reform commission will be eligible to have bans or sanctions reduced - but the scale of any reduction will depend on their testimony, it has been confirmed.

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission [CIRC], can have "preliminary discussions" about sanction reductions with key witnesses such as Lance Armstrong.

No deals will be done however until after the witness has given evidence.

Armstrong, who had his seven Tour de France titles stripped due to doping, is currently banned for life but would be arguably the most important person for the commission to interview.

Brian Cookson, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), said: "There can be preliminary discussions but until the evidence has been heard it is impossible to determine the amount of sanction reduction."

Dick Marty, the commission chairman, appealed for anyone with information about the sport's doping past to come forward said sensitive information would be treated on a confidential basis.

He said: "The primary purpose of our investigation is not to punish doping offenders but to learn from the past so we can help ensure a better future for cycling.

"We will treat all witnesses fairly and so I urge anyone in the cycling community with information that can help our investigation to come forward."

The terms of reference of the commission will be to "determine the processes and practices in professional road cycling that allowed the culture of doping to perpetuate over a sustained period of time, in particular to discover the main providers and facilitators of doping in cycling in the period 1998-2013.

"Investigation into UCI past wrongdoings will also be a core part of the CIRC mandate."

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The commission will spend a year, possibly 16 months, gathering information as part of a investigation costing £2million. Cookson said this was a "window of opportunity" for anyone to come forward and confess wrongdoing - especially if this had taken place in recent years.

Cookson added: "The reduced sanctions will only apply for the period that the commission is operating, and the danger is other people will come forward.

"If anyone has something to hide now is the time to come forward and tell all of the truth before someone else comes and tells the truth about your activities."

Marty said he would welcome the past two UCI presidents, Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, coming forward to give evidence.
He said: "They might find an interest in coming forward to the commission and we certainly share the same interest."

The commission will have one person working on the review full-time - Peter Nicholson, a former Australian army officer who has since become a specialist in criminal investigations, and has worked on terrorism investigations and war crimes cases including the Srebrenica genocide case for which Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are currently on trial at The Hague.

The other commission member is Ulrich Haas, a German professor specialising in anti-doping rules and procedures

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