No independence from WADA

ARTICLE SUMMARY

  • Brian Cookson’s claim that the CIRC was independent is not serious. For a start, he both nominated its members and paid their fees. More than that, he was regularly briefed throughout the so-called investigation in a series of meetings, as he himself admits in media interviews.
  • Cookson said publicly on a number of occasions that he would be working closely with WADA with regards to the composition of the CIRC. At least one member of the CIRC, Ulrich Haas has strong ties with WADA (he has had a number of different mandates from WADA). Recently Ulrich Haas was appointed to the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal. In addition, it has been said that the CIRC member Peter Nicholson, from Australia, was brought in via his compatriot John Fahey, a former WADA President.
  • If conclusive proof were needed to demonstrate the CIRC’s lack of independence – and in particular where WADA is concerned by Haas and Nicholson – it can be found on page 189 of the report itself. There, we find the only criticism of WADA in the report (although the anti-doping body is not even mentioned by name). Damningly, though, this particular criticism is signed ONLY by Dick Marty, the one person on the CIRC who has no connection to WADA itself.
  • The CIRC’s Terms of References were written in close cooperation with WADA, as can be seen clearly in an email that I received on 10 January 2014 from WADA President Craig Reedie.
  • The astonishing fact that the report, once completed, was given exclusively to one person, Brian Cookson, is the strongest indication of the CIRC’s lack of independence as it left in the hands of Cookson alone to decide what to do with the report. It should also be noted that, up to this point, Cookson has, despite many requests, refused to send me a copy of the CIRC’s (full) report.

 

 

FULL ARTICLE

From my very first contact with the CIRC, I openly questioned its independence and its ability to conduct an independent and neutral investigation. I did not question the personal integrity of the members of the CIRC, but offered my opinion that they had been put in a position that made it impossible for them to come to a free judgment.

As I will show in the pages of this website, my fears have materialized: the CIRC has not investigated WADA’s role in the various issues that the CIRC has examined in its report; the report contains a multitude of statements and omissions that are pander to Brian Cookson’s bias, as well as statements and omissions that pander to WADA and its former President Dick Pound.

I believe that this has become a structural problem in sport.

 

In November 2012, the UCI, under Pat McQuaid, wanted to establish an Independent Commission (IC) with the mandate to examine thoroughly cycling’s doping history, the UCI’s anti-doping efforts and the rumours of corruption and protection, in particular relating to Lance Armstrong.

The UCI did not want to be involved in the choice of the members of that Commission. The UCI therefore asked John Coates, the President of the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to appoint the members of the IC.

Coates proposed as the president of that Commission Sir Philip Otton, a lawyer and former appeals court judge in London. No-one at the UCI had ever heard of Otton. Following his appointment, it was then Otton who elected the two other members of the Commission, rather than Coates. In any event, the UCI did not interfere with the selection process and simply accepted Otton’s choices.

The UCI had prepared a draft terms of reference, if only to indicate what the investigation should be about. The commission (IC1), however, drafted entirely new terms of reference, without any intervention by the UCI. That version was presented to the UCI with an invitation to comment on it and submit any suggestions. The UCI made a couple of suggestions, but the IC rejected them and adopted the terms of reference that it had originally proposed.

Immediately, Dick Pound, former president of WADA, challenged the independence of the IC for the reason that John Coates was a member of the IOC, as was Pat McQuaid at that time – and I was (and still am) an honorary member of the IOC.

John Coates had been asked by the UCI in his capacity of president of CAS, the neutrality and independence of which are unchallenged. That Coates is a member of the IOC was, and still is, totally irrelevant. Dick Pound was and still is a member of the IOC, as indeed were several other members of the WADA board, including the current president Craig Reedie.

The real reason for Pound’s intervention, however, is that he and WADA did not actually wish the IC to be truly independent. Their problem was not the independence of the IC towards the UCI; their problem was that the IC would also be independent of WADA – and WADA was afraid that the IC would look into what WADA had been doing. In particular, WADA was concerned that the IC would look into WADA’s role in the decision to reanalyse the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France samples and to make sure that, against all applicable rules including its own, these samples that had been analysed for scientific purposes could be identified.

 

The CIRC was set up between Brian Cookson and WADA. Cookson has stated in an interview that the first phone call he made after his election was to the WADA President. He did not first call, as might be expected, the IOC President; no, his first call was to Craig Reedie.

They had by then almost certainly already discussed setting up a CIRC, since Cookson was very eager to start investigating the alleged “wrongdoings” of his predecessors. Cookson had all of the computers and electronic files in the UCI confiscated as soon as the result of his election was known. He had organised for ‘storm troopers’ to be waiting outside the UCI’s headquarters and, even before the Congress in Florence had ended, they were raiding the premises!

A WADA-controlled CIRC was totally in line with WADA’s objectives. As can be seen in the report I submitted to the CIRC (13 August 2014), WADA had even put pressure on laboratory staff to make false declarations concerning cover-ups by the UCI. This fact was, incidentally, also confirmed by other people testifying to the CIRC, but it was a fact that the CIRC ‘conveniently’ omitted to mention in its report.

This ‘omission’ inevitably raises the issue that the Commission was appointed by Cookson in close collaboration with WADA, as indeed Cookson has confirmed many times.

I do not know who proposed Dick Marty to the CIRC, although it has been suggested that it was François Carrard, a close friend of Pound’s who has acted as a lawyer for WADA on many occasions.

As to the second member of the CIRC, Professor Ulrich Haas, he has certainly had a great many mandates relating to WADA, in particular with the drafting of the World Anti-Doping Code. In addition, being a CAS arbitrator, Haas is in a difficult position when it comes to Pound, the former WADA president and currently still a member of ICAS, the foundation that runs CAS and appoints the arbitrators on the CAS list, as well as having the power to remove them from that list.

It is also noteworthy that Haas has been appointed to the anti-doping tribunal of the UCI. I don’t know the exact date of his appointment, it can only have been either while he was still writing the CIRC report, or shortly after he had delivered it (together with his colleagues) to Cookson.

The third member of the CIRC, Peter Nicholson, comes from Australia, home country of John Fahey, the previous WADA President. It has been suggested that it was through Fahey that Nicholson was found and appointed.

In fact, when the UCI under Pat McQuaid discussed setting up an investigative commission with WADA in 2013, WADA also had to approve the members of that commission. (In the event, WADA suspended these discussions as it did not want Pat McQuaid to set up any such commission before the presidential elections of the UCI in 2013.)

The same applied to that commission’s terms of reference and I am certain that WADA also had a say in the terms of reference of the CIRC, as both UCI and WADA worked closely together in setting up the CIRC.

 

The point I am trying to make here is that WADA did not wish a truly independent commission – and that it therefore tried to ensure no commission was set up without a decisive say by WADA in its composition and terms of reference.

This was already abundantly clear at the time of the Vrijman report, about which I will write in a separate chapter. This report posed a great many questions about WADA’s role and the role of the French Ministry of Sports in the process of analysing doping samples of the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France for scientific purposes. The Vrijman report stated (par. 1.13) that “these conclusions are based on the information received to-date and are subject to supplementation and perhaps even modification upon proper receipt from the LNDD, the French Ministry, WADA, and perhaps others of additional documents and cooperation concerning these matters”.

WADA had announced several times that if the Vrijman report was not satisfactory, it would conduct its own investigation. WADA did not.

After the Vrijman report was published and after mediation by the IOC, an attempt was made to instigate a mediation procedure by CAS in order to look into the roles of WADA and the French Ministry. However the French Ministry, to which the Paris laboratory belongs, refused to participate, using the argument that the French State could not participate in private proceedings. Because of that refusal, WADA refused to participate as well.

Later the Paris lab offered to provide all documents on the subject, in particular documents that spelt out who had asked for the Tour de France samples to be part of a scientific project; who decided not to ask for the agreement of the athletes; whether WADA and/or the Ministry were involved in the leak of the research results in L’Equipe in August 2005; whether there was targeting of Lance Armstrong (as is the opinion of the CIRC president Marty – see page 190-191 of the CIRC report); etc. However, WADA refused to cooperate as long as the French Ministry refused to participate in the proceedings rather than simply providing its files to CAS. WADA never provided any of its own documents either, so the entire matter was never investigated.

By doing this, WADA managed to avoid an independent investigation by CAS, even if that investigation had included the Vrijman report that had been so vehemently rejected by WADA.

 

Another example of WADA’s idea of “independent” is the commission that was set up (by WADA) earlier this year to investigate revelations in a documentary by Das Erste, broadcast on German television, of alleged systematic doping by Russian track and field athletes. The president of this commission is none other than Dick Pound, former WADA president and still a member of WADA’s foundation board and an IOC member. Suddenly, WADA has no issue with the fact that the President of the Russian National Olympic Committee is also a Member of the IOC; it has no problem with the Russian Deputy Minister of Sports being a Member of the WADA Foundation Board; it does not mind that the IAAF President is also an Honorary IOC Member and that the Honorary Vice President of IAAF, until recently the Vice President of WADA, is also an Honorary IOC-Member!

Now that WADA has been in place and operational for more than ten years, leading and monitoring the worldwide fight against doping, it should go without saying that any serious investigation into whether there is a serious doping problem in a major sport, or in a major country, must logically include an examination of whether there have been any shortcomings in WADA fulfilling its responsibilities and whether its anti-doping system is working properly.

A commission installed and assisted by WADA and headed by WADA’s former president cannot be seen as a guarantee that any indication of a shortcoming by WADA will not be overlooked, ignored or addressed improperly, let alone that such a commission will actively seek to check whether such shortcomings exist and report back on them.

 

The influence, or even dominance, of WADA is also clear throughout the CIRC report.

The striking proof of this is the “additional” opinion of the CIRC president Marty on page 189-191 of the CIRC report.  Marty is the only member of the commission who has dared to make critical remarks concerning the dealings between WADA and the Paris laboratory regarding the reanalysis of the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France samples and on the targeting of Lance Armstrong. The two remaining CIRC members have not put their names to this criticism.

Yet it remains a fact that the CIRC has not proceeded to carry out a thorough investigation, it has not looked into any of the issues that I had mentioned in my report to the CIRC and it has not answered any of the 44 questions that I had asked to be investigated and answered, many of which concern the role of WADA and/or Dick Pound.

In fact, the CIRC report does not even mention the report I submitted to the commission, or my questions. Certainly, my report was not attached to the CIRC’s final report. In my opinion, the reason that the CIRC report contains no attachments is simply to avoid then also having to attach my report as well.

Another striking confirmation can be found on page 209 of the CIRC report, where the CIRC states that there can be no successful investigation without the support of WADA. In other words: forget about an independent investigation. There will be no investigation into the doings or involvement of WADA. WADA is the ‘absolute authority’, as indeed WADA wrote quite literally in an email to the UCI on 26 January 2013.

In all civilized countries, there is an independent body that investigates complaints against policemen and judges. In the world of sports, however, WADA is its own judge and therefore innocent by definition.

The CIRC was supported by WADA and its investigation has indeed been very successful from WADA’s perspective. There has been no investigation into the role of WADA and/or Pound (apart from the opinions expressed by Marty) and the head of Hein Verbruggen has been presented on a plate, as was always the intention of Cookson, WADA and USADA. In fact, Hein Verbruggen was already condemned well before a single word of the report had been written, if only because absolutely nothing of what I said or wrote to the CIRC was ever going to be allowed to be included in its final report.

 

The power and influence of WADA prevent any commission that WADA is involved in to be independent and neutral, as has been graphically demonstrated by the CIRC. It is because WADA always ensures that it is shielded from any independent investigation into its actions that its stakeholders are left with no option but to “fight” WADA, as no justice is available. If there were a forum where complaints about WADA were investigated and judged objectively, then these sorts of issues would be resolved quickly, rather than lingering for years and poisoning relationships.

By saying this, I am not saying that WADA is always wrong. What I am saying, though, is that there should be a body that can judge with the necessary independence and authority – and having the confidence of the world of sports – whether WADA, or the complainant, is in the wrong.

It is this shielding of WADA’s dominant position that continues to feed conflicts, creates frustration and prevents normal relationships between WADA and its stakeholders.

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