The UCI’s anti-doping programme

FULL ARTICLE

On pages 115 – 134, the CIRC undertakes to describe and evaluate the UCI’s anti-doping programme up to the year 2006 and, on pages 134 – 160, the anti-doping programme from 2006 until 2013.

I will comment on the first part (pages 115 – 134), as this is the period covered by my presidency.

I will not comment on all of the details: most of the CIRC’s text is based on hearsay, or even second-hand hearsay, and on the generalisation of incidents that inevitably occur in complicated logistical matters such as, for example, anti-doping testing at a big tour.

There are three items that I deal with in a separate chapter: health tests, the EPO test and out-of-competition testing.

 

A first general comment concerns the CIRC’s introduction to this section in its report.

On page 116, the CIRC writes that a comparison with other IF’s forms only a minor part of the benchmark when assessing UCI’s anti-doping programme, and that the decisive factor is rather the magnitude of the doping problem with which the UCI was faced and the knowledge UCI leadership had, or should have had, of that problem.  In the CIRC’s view, the bigger the scale of the problem, the more an IF should be expected to do to solve it.

These short statements should be put to the test.

With its argument, the CIRC tries to justify ignoring the efforts the UCI made during difficult times and avoids describing these efforts as well as everything the UCI did as a pioneer in these issues (although the pioneering, as such, is recognized by the CIRC). The CIRC systematically selects only those aspects which, in its view, have gone wrong.

With its argument, the CIRC also seeks to minimize – even ignore – the fact that the UCI did more than any other IF in the fight against doping.

Furthermore, the refusal to use an objective benchmark is self-serving:

  • the CIRC spares itself the trouble and the effort of defining an objective benchmark;
  • the CIRC avoids a comparison that would surely be in favour of the UCI;
  • the CIRC paves the way for its subjective approach and judgements.

The refusal is also in contradiction with other statements in the CIRC report:

EPO was a challenge for almost all sectors of sport, although it was cycling that most often came under the spotlight” (page 95).

“The extent of the doping and the lack of any effective means to detect it led to concern not only within the UCI, but for all actors in the sporting world. It is reasonable to suggest too that the rise in doping in cycling, and more broadly in many sports, reflected a proliferation of drugs in broader society.” (page 96)

The [French] Senate Commission asserted that « both statistics and the testimonies gathered …show that skills-based sports and those in which tactics are dominant are not spared from doping”. The statistics in question were based on WADA data and quite clearly showed that other sports were just as affected by doping as cycling, in some cases even more so, but did not attract media headlines” (page 96).

In these places, the CIRC acknowledges that the doping problem in other sports was as serious as, or even more serious, than in cycling. So what prevented the CIRC from making a comparison with other sports in terms of the fight against doping (and in particular the fight against EPO), if it was not to avoid the need for some objectivity and, above all, to avoid finding that the UCI actually did more in the fight against doping than any other IF with the same or even bigger doping problems?

 

The CIRC refers to a “period of containment” and then selects bits and pieces, including statements by “staff”, “interviewees” etc. that are not substantiated and not checked or investigated.

Also by defining a “period of containment” from 1992 to 2006/2007, a period of roughly 15 years, the CIRC seeks to ignore the general status of anti-doping more than 20 years ago, as well as the enormous progress that has been made in that period.

“Containment” is certainly meant by the CIRC to be a negative term. However, if one looks at the history of anti-doping, “containment” is also the result of the fact that eradication of doping, which is of course the aim, is not possible; that the effort and the resources available at any given time are never sufficient.   In this, the fight against doping is no different from the war against organized crime, against drugs, against tax fraud…   I refer to the statement by WADA Director David Howman that even after 10 years of WADA being at cruising speed the whole worldwide anti-doping machine catches only the “dopey dopers” (Cyclingnews, 15 November 2011). I also refer to the WADA/Pound report on the ‘Lack of effectiveness of testing programs’ of 16 April 2013. These refer to the situation in 2011-2013, not to the CIRC’s “period of containment” of 1992 to 2006.

The CIRC gives credit to the thesis of a “respected rider” that nowadays 90% of the peloton is still doping (page 56 of the report). The CIRC describes how athletes immediately adapt to new anti-doping techniques and strategies and are able to stay under the radar of the athlete blood passport while continuing to dope.

Yet the CIRC refers to my presidency as the period of “containment”, while at that time far fewer resources were available to tackle the problem. It is just a high-handed political label that does not correspond with reality: on the contrary, the facts that any neutral observer would put to the credit of UCI’s anti-doping action under my presidency are simply ignored.

I don’t argue, of course, that improvements have been made since 2006 (the opposite situation would be highly abnormal) and that the introduction of the athlete blood passport was a major step forwards. But any objective observer can check for themself what evolution there has been from 1992 up until 2006 and from 2006 until 2012 and compare with the corresponding sections in the CIRC report.   It will be clear that “containment” and “improvement” are purely subjective, politically inspired labels just aimed at minimizing the major steps forward and improvements that were made between 1992 and 2006.

 

The CIRC writes, on page 116, that from 1992 the UCI’s anti-doping staff was interviewed and recruited by Lon Schattenberg, Philippe Verbiest and myself. This is simply false and I have no idea what information this statement is based upon.

The CIRC also writes that “the staff had little expertise in anti-doping and ‘learned on the job’ « . Of course, the CIRC knows exactly where an IF could have been able to recruit experienced anti-doping staff all the way back in the 1990s, but it just forgets to tell us. The CIRC’s vicious innuendo does not alter the fact that the UCI staff was dedicated and did a good job. Of course, mistakes were made, but that also applies to the people that the CIRC adulates and whose mistakes are arbitrarily ignored in the CIRC’s report. And, of course, the CIRC makes no mistakes, as is overwhelmingly demonstrated by the ‘astonishing accuracy’ of its report.

The CIRC is careful not to evaluate the members of UCI’s anti-doping staff before and after 2006, which would be impossible as the CIRC has, as always, not investigated seriously. However, the CIRC suggests that the staff members under my presidency were somehow less competent. This is a mean insult to those people disparaged by the CIRC, and one only made because of the fact that they worked with me and Lon Schattenberg. For the CIRC, this human collateral is justified by the political agenda: to bring down Hein Verbruggen.

But the situation cannot have been that bad: the head of UCI’s anti-doping was hired by WADA in April 2003, went on to work for several years at WADA as a manager and was then hired by another major IF for its anti-doping department.

 

In-competition testing

On page 120, the CIRC writes that in-competition testing (ICT) did not take place in all international events. This is still the case today, as the UCI has some 1,500 international events every year and cannot carry out testing at them all. So this is not something specific for the “period of containment”, as the CIRC falsely suggests. Also, the CIRC fails to add that at races where the UCI does not test, testing can be carried out by the national federation and/or by the NADO. NADOs do not test at all of the events where the UCI does not test either, but that is of course not something that the CIRC criticises them for.

In fact, the CIRC ignores the fact that, in all sports, the IFs conduct only a part of the testing, the greater part being done by other anti-doping agencies. Nevertheless, in the period 2002-2005 the UCI conducted 40% of all tests in cycling which is much more than the IFs of any other sport that have published figures on their testing (including athletics, swimming, tennis, skying), with the exception of tennis.

The CIRC also ignores the fact that considering the relatively smaller number of licenced athletes, cyclists were the most tested athletes. Official French data show that, in 2004, 1.55 percent of cyclists were tested, compared to 0.7 percent of track-and-field athletes, 0.045 percent of football players and 0.031 percent of tennis players. French Sports Minister (and vice-president of WADA) Jean-François Lamour declared, in March 2006, in front of the French Parliament that one factor for the high number of doping tests on cyclists in France was the “voluntaristic policy of the UCI in anti-doping” (I translate from French) question 41472 P 3147, 21 March 2006)

In addition, the CIRC refers to a number of alleged “deficiencies in the testing process” and notes that in one case ‘this’ was reported, and in another case ‘that’ was reported, at least according to the testimony of unidentified people and without identifying the cases concerned. This is so vague that I cannot even comment on it.

The CIRC also reports on incidents that are referred to in the Independent Observer report for the Tour de France 2003 and also in the Independent Observer report for the Tour de France 2010, although the latter occurred after the period examined by the CIRC (until 2006/2007) and just after Anne Gripper had been in charge for more than three years (October 2006-March 2010).

The CIRC, as always, ignores the explanations and rebuttals that were provided by the UCI in answer to these reports, which also contained many falsehoods. The CIRC includes links in its report to these IO reports, but not to the UCI’s answers: as we know, hearing both sides of an issue is a foreign concept in the CIRC’s methodology. (The problem with the CIRC so consistently failing, or refusing, to hear the other side is that one may be trapped into getting used to the idea).

The CIRC has not the slightest idea of (or wilfully ignores) the logistics of a big tour such as the Tour de France, where for example the 22 participating cycling teams are spread over the available hotels in a zone of tens of kilometers around the start area with small, crowded roads. The UCI does not have an army of DCOs that can raid hotels and hotel rooms, let alone raid several hotels at the same time. The UCI cannot make DCOs and their equipment invisible either. (In this respect the CIRC wilfully confuses health tests and doping tests, as the DCOs did not carry “cumbersome equipment” for (blood) doping tests of course).

 

The CIRC also comments on the selection and training of DCOs. These are just unsubstantiated allegations and the CIRC fails to show how these criticisms, even supposing there are any grounds for them, affected the quality of doping controls.

 

Regarding the predictability of in-competition testing, the riders knew that ICT could occur at any time during the in-competition period and therefore the testing was inevitably predictable, similar to the testing at the Olympic Games, for example. The CIRC also writes that unannounced ICT was routinely conducted in the evening. I have not counted how many times ICT was conducted in the evening and how many times ICT was conducted in the morning. The CIRC hasn’t either. In addition, the CIRC describes at various places in its report (pages 58, 68) how riders take micro-doses in the evening in order to avoid detection when tested in the morning. Is it then not better to test in the evening, also given the fact that the CIRC pleads for testing at night (between 11pm and 6am) on page 216? The CIRC also forgets that UCI’s DCOs also had to conduct health tests in the morning for the no-start rule and that, based upon the blood values resulting from these health tests and which came available almost immediately, testing for EPO was conducted.

The CIRC refers to the possibility of manipulation when the riders could only be notified via their team manager, or via the display at the finish line. I cannot exclude that manipulation has occurred, but on the other hand during all of these years no manipulation has been reported that would have been due to the circumstances described by the CIRC. The system of notification that was used in cycling was indeed specific to the sport, and was also prescribed by legislation in France and Belgium, two countries with an anti-doping legislation since 1965 as well as a long cycling tradition. This is conveniently “forgotten” by the CIRC, similar to the detailed explanations that were given by the UCI in answer to the IO reports and the fact that until 2006 anti-doping control in France was conducted by the French Ministry of Sports, with the UCI’s anti-doping inspector in attendance.

 

The CIRC regrets (page 124) that NADOs could not test in-competition to compensate for the alleged ICT’s deficiencies. The CIRC – apart from the question how many NADOs have been conducting testing prior to 2006 – does not explain however how the ICT testing by NADOs in cycling competitions would have been any different from that of the UCI. In fact these NADOs should rather have stepped in in those races where there was no testing by the UCI. For the CIRC, however, no testing by NADOs is of course much less important than considering alleged deficiencies and possible (but not proven) manipulations in races with UCI testing.

The CIRC insinuatingly writes (page 124) that the UCI “had a rather broad approach to what is an international event”, without explaining. When the World Anti-Doping Code was adopted in 2004, the UCI defined as international events all events that were included on its international calendar. The CIRC fails to demonstrate what is wrong with that. And once again, under the UCI rules, NADOs could conduct testing in all international events where there was no testing by the UCI or by the National Federation (it being understood that National Federations have the races in their country mostly tested by their NADO). Of course, the CIRC completely ignores this, just as the CIRC also ignores the fact that some NADO’s preferred to test in high-profile international races where there was already testing carried out by the UCI, not for the sake of anti-doping, but for the sake of publicity.   On the other hand there was (and is) good cooperation between the UCI and NADOs regarding testing in some international races, but this too is ignored by the CIRC.

 

The CIRC writes (page 124) that teams recording the notification list of riders to be tested at races on a daily basis would have a running record of who the UCI was testing. One has to wonder what the problem is with that. The CIRC doesn’t tell us, but presents this as a problem nonetheless.   People who hang around at the entrance to the doping control station can see clearly which riders enter. Some IFs publish these data on their website and, since 2009, the Code stipulates that anti-doping organizations may publish reports showing the name of each athlete and the date of each testing procedure (article 14.4).

This shows once again that anything, even the most common and Code-compliant practices, is used by the CIRC to create negative impressions of the UCI.

 

The CIRC also refers to anonymous accusations that riders, or teams, were informed of upcoming testing. None of these accusations have ever been substantiated. On page 121, the CIRC writes about the case of an allegation by a rider that information about testing was leaked from a member of UCI’s anti-doping commission, but that the CIRC could not corroborate this statement with any other evidence. This has always been the case with these sorts of allegations. The question is, however, why the CIRC even mentions this allegation given there is no further indication that it might have any substance. The answer seems to be that simply mentioning these allegations is enough to create doubts, which is apparently the sole aim of the CIRC in the absence of any evidence.

 

On the other hand, the CIRC “considers it unacceptable and a severe breach of proper procedures that such serious accusations [the accusation of Michael Rasmussen against Mario Zorzoli in USADA’s decision re Leinders], based upon double hearsay, were made public without the individual first being consulted and the allegations being fully investigated. This is all the more disturbing since this accusation was completely immaterial to the case investigated.”

One wonders why then the CIRC does precisely the same in its report: for the CIRC, these fine principles seem to apply only when it is not about the “UCI leadership”: as is abundantly shown on this website, the CIRC reports many accusations by unidentified people without “the individual first being consulted and the allegations being fully investigated” – and the most accused individual being myself.

And if the accusation against Mario Zorzoli is so unacceptable, one has to wonder then why the CIRC reproduces this accusation in its own report, or why this passage was not blacked out by the UCI before publishing the CIRC report.

 

Warning riders and teams

On pages 124-125, the CIRC reports that, up until 2006, riders were informed and warned if they showed suspicious values and also that, on 31 January 2002 (in a letter that I don’t have and could not check), Lon Schattenberg informed the teams that the laboratories could detect EPO up to one week after it was taken, instead of 3-4 days.

The CIRC sees this as undermining the deterrent effect of sample collection.

The UCI and Schattenberg took a different view. It has to do with the vision about the aim of anti-doping and also on its effectiveness.

It is clear that, for the CIRC, as it has always been for WADA (in fact I am not sure if it is really the genuine opinion of the CIRC, or that the CIRC simply feels obliged to echo WADA), the aim of anti-doping is to catch the cheats. However, if one catches a cheat, logically this means that there was no deterrent effect.

Of course cheats have to be caught, but in the opinion of the UCI, at least at that time, the first aim of anti-doping is to prevent doping, so that clean athletes are not put at a disadvantage. What is more effective: to avoid athletes doping so that competition is fair, or to allow suspect and therefore possibly doping athletes to continue competing and harming their competitors and continue to try to test them until such time that a test is positive?   Should one try to avoid cheating and prejudice, or let it happen until such moment that the cheat is caught?   The UCI’s idea was to warn the rider so that if he was doping, he would stop knowing that he was being closely watched. In addition, the suspicious values might not actually be an indication of doping, but rather of a health problem, which in fairness the rider had the right to be informed about.

This UCI ‘warning policy’ was welcomed, for example by the French newspaper L’Equipe in the case of Raimundas Rumsas and by USADA in the case of Tyler Hamilton.

On 22 July 2003, L’Equipe in an article headed “Rumsas pris pour dopage” (Rumsas caught for doping) reported that Lon Schattenberg and Mario Zorzoli (who is almost systematically forgotten by the CIRC) had put Rumsas on the carpet and warned him seriously in 2002. L’Equipe congratulated the UCI for this approach and added that the UCI earned respect. The UCI targeted Rumsas and caught him for EPO with an in-competition test at the 2003 Giro d’Italia.

In 2004, the UCI caught Tyler Hamilton for homologous blood transfusion, the UCI being the first IF to use that test. UCI and USADA, in excellent partnership, prosecuted the case before a panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and then in front of CAS. After Hamilton was found guilty of doping by the AAA, USADA published a press release on 18 April 2005, containing inter alea the following:

Based on blood screens taken in the spring and summer of 2004, Union Cycliste International (UCI) warned Hamilton and his team that Hamilton was suspected of manipulating his blood. Following these warnings, UCI target-tested Hamilton and he tested positive.

« UCI took the necessary action to protect the integrity of its sport,” said USADA Chief Executive Officer Terry Madden. “This decision shows that sport is committed to protecting the rights of all clean athletes and that no athlete is above the rules. » (emphasis added by me)

All this is, of course ignored, by the CIRC as it does not fit with the anti-Verbruggen/Schattenberg image it is determined to depict.

I point out that riders who were warned were also, at the same time targeted – and eventually caught and sanctioned (as was the case with Rumsas and Hamilton).

It is absolutely false that, as the CIRC writes on page 124, athletes were warned instead of using the information to perform target testing. Both were done. It is simply outrageous that an investigation commission claiming any status of seriousness writes complete falsehoods such as that.

 

In fact the CIRC provides a nice example of its own inconsistency.

The CIRC reports that in the 2008 Tour de France “many additional” riders had been caught for CERA and no prior notice had been given that CERA had become detectable.

This “many additional” shows how the CIRC prefers rabble-rousing to objective information: four riders tested positive for CERA in addition to two riders that tested positive for EPO and one that tested positive for heptaminol.

The UCI was not involved in the testing for the simple reason that ASO had organised the 2008 Tour as a national race, beyond the jurisdiction of the UCI.

So where was the deterrent effect of sample collection that is so dear to the CIRC? As the riders didn’t know that the Paris lab had a method to detect CERA, the testing at the Tour had no deterrent effect at all on those that used CERA, as they believed they could do so unnoticed. And how many riders used CERA but were not tested, because for obvious reasons only a limited number of participants are tested? And how many of those that had used CERA were tested, but didn’t actually test positive?

If riders had known that there was going to be a test for CERA, there would have been fewer riders that actually used CERA – and, to the extent there still was doping with CERA, it would have had less effect during the Tour as the cheats would have taken micro-doses only, or would have stopped taking CERA long enough before the start of the Tour. This was also the effect that Schattenberg wanted to achieve when informing riders that the detection window for EPO was much larger than they thought: i.e. less doping.

The Tour of 2008 yielded four positive results for CERA and the CIRC rejoices about this and thinks no deeper about it than that. I believe the 2008 Tour would have been cleaner and more fair to clean competitors if, prior to the Tour, CERA had been known to be detectable: only then testing for CERA could have had a deterrent effect.

In any case, the CIRC has no justification for its assertion that not announcing a new testing method acts more as a deterrent than announcing it. In addition, once the first positive result for CERA was made public, the whole world knew that CERA was detectable.

But anyway, the CIRC’s concern is solely to draw negative conclusions about the UCI under my presidency.

 

Test distribution planning

The CIRC writes that Lon Schattenberg was in charge of test distribution planning. This may be correct, however that does not mean that the staff in charge of implementing test distribution had no say in the planning. Riders were also tested outside of the planning, if there were indications for doing so. A prominent example of this was the surprise test on Laurent Roux on 27 April 2002, in his hotel room on the evening (!) before a race. This case could not have been gone unnoticed, as it was also interesting from a legal point of view: Roux was acquitted in France because a test that was not conducted by the French Ministry was judged to be illegal. (At that time WADA did not conduct OOCT in France because testing had to be conducted by a medical doctor appointed by the Ministry.) UCI appealed to CAS and CAS sanctioned Roux under the UCI anti-doping rules. As this was a case in which the UCI fought all the way up to CAS to defend a surprise OOCT, it is (or at least this aspect of the case is) naturally ignored by the CIRC. The CIRC prefers to give a complete misrepresentation of the Pantani case (see below) which confirms once again that the CIRC has not been investigating (let alone investigating in an objective way), but simply collecting and echoing negative opinions about the UCI under my presidency.

I wrote here between brackets that maybe the aspects of the Roux case, above, were ignored by the CIRC rather than the Roux case as such. Indeed the CIRC refers to the case in footnote 226 on page 129 as an example of UCI (in fact, CAS) applying lenient sanctions: it is CAS 2002/A/431. I will come back to the sanction aspect below. But anyway, the interesting and specific aspects of the Roux case that normally would go to the credit ledger of the UCI are, as always, ignored by the CIRC. Alternatively, the CIRC assistant in charge of sanctions was looking for so-called lenient sanctions only and so didn’t bother to examine, or didn’t understand, the real importance of the Roux case (just as this assistant didn’t bother to look into the reasons why, in each of the quoted cases, the CAS panel decided not to impose the maximum sanction). And the CIRC assistant in charge of the test distribution planning ignored the existence of the Roux case. Either that, or both assistants complied with a policy to report only aspects that could be presented as negative (at least in their view) for the UCI under my presidency.   Anyhow, it is despicable under any circumstances.

 

In fact, I cannot now check which riders were tested and for which reasons – and neither did the CIRC. The CIRC only refers to allegations from “staff interviewed” and “the opinion of certain UCI staff”. I don’t know what has been said, or by whom. Similarly, I don’t know either whether all of the staff said the same thing, or whether the CIRC is only quoting what some staff said, while others may have said something different. I don’t know whether the staff members in question were even qualified to make statements about the subject matter. And above all: neither my opinion, nor that of Lon Schattenberg was asked.   I wonder about Mario Zorzoli, who was in charge of the operational aspect of anti-doping. I cannot imagine that he would have declared that he did a poor job. In short: there is no basis for the CIRC to come to these conclusions, but that is of course the comfort of the CIRC: the CIRC is only too ready to draw conclusions that are not conclusions, but simply opinions that bear no relation to underlying facts. Once again: pathetic.

While the CIRC in its report falsely wants to create the impression that the UCI focused on health, rather than on anti-doping, it is nevertheless eager to criticise the health tests that were not doping tests: when it comes to scraping elements that may be presented in a negative way, anything is welcome.   Here, the CIRC writes that health testing was frequently dictated by considerations of practicability and viability. The CIRC fails to explain however how one can test counter to the constraints of practicability and viability.

Here, too, the CIRC mentions the case of Marco Pantani. But the CIRC’s presentation is completely false, which shows once again that the CIRC writes whatever it likes, only provided it is negative for me or Schattenberg. I deal with the Pantani case in the article on Elite Road Cycling and I refer to that article (see heading ‘Pantani’).

Regarding out-of-competition testing, the CIRC writes that targeting criteria were rarely applied. This is not correct and the CIRC gives no facts that would back up this statement. Similarly, the CIRC writes that UCI’s OOCT programme produced “so few AAFs”. The CIRC does not say how many AAFs were produced. So how can one say that it were “few”? The CIRC does not say either how many AAFs should have been produced. The CIRC does not say how many AAFs were produced in other sports, which the CIRC says had a similar or even worse doping problem. (As I show in my article on OOCT, the latter yields no more positive tests than in-competition testing.)

It is just words, meaningless statements, the only purpose of which is to draw a negative picture.   As I said: pathetic.

 

Sanctions

What the CIRC writes on page 129 about sanctions is misleadingly false and incomplete.

I refer to my article “UCI and anti-doping” on this website and more specifically to the heading “UCI and the World Anti-Doping Code”.

The sanctions in UCI’s anti-doping rules have been made harsher and harsher in time, so that since 2001 there were hasher sanctions in UCI’s rules than those that have been introduced with the World Anti-Doping Code in 2004.

 

The CIRC also refers to selected CAS cases in order to say that the UCI was rather lenient. The CIRC appears to ignore the fact that the sanctions imposed in these cases were imposed by CAS and not the UCI! One can only see that CAS – not the UCI – decided not to apply the maximum sanction that was provided for under the UCI’s rules. In each of these cases, the CAS arbitrators examined independently and carefully (a notion that appears to be foreign to the CIRC) all the circumstances surrounding each case and then fixed the appropriate sanction. These decisions by neutral arbitrators without a political agenda show that the sanctions provided for in UCI’s rules were not that absurd.

In addition, these CAS awards were given following appeals that the UCI had submitted against acquittals, or sanctions that the UCI deemed too lenient: is that leniency? For the CIRC it is.

Furthermore, the CIRC has not taken the trouble to look into the circumstances of each case. For example, case CAS 2003/A/505 was an appeal by UCI against a decision by USADA not to proceed against a rider. It was CAS that decided to sanction the rider with six months while under the UCI rules CAS could have sanctioned the rider with two years. I come back on this case below, under the heading ‘TUE’s’.

Concerning case CAS 2002/A/358, the CIRC falsely writes that the rider was sanctioned with one year for EPO. Under the applicable UCI rules, the CAS could have sanctioned that rider with four years up to suspension for life. The CAS did not sanction the rider with one year, but with one year of effective suspension plus two years deferred suspension plus a fine. This case concerned a rider that was found positive for EPO, but who was acquitted by his national federation. Before CAS, the rider and his federation contested heavily the EPO detection method that was once again defended by the UCI. Is that leniency? For the CIRC it is. As indicated, the CIRC reports only the part of the sanction imposed by CAS in order to create a misleading impression. Pathetic. Who can take that seriously?

As indicated, case CAS 2002/A/431 concerned an out-of-competition test on Laurent Roux. I referred to this case above. Under the then UCI rules, CAS could have imposed a suspension for life, but CAS decided to impose a four-year suspension. CAS did so under the particular circumstance that Roux refused to participate in the proceedings and did not defend himself! It is totally unbelievable that the CIRC presents this as the UCI being lenient on sanctions!

Other telling examples of the CIRC’s “methodology”:

  • the CIRC refers to a sanction of 6 months out of which 3 months were suspended in case CAS 2000/A/289. The CIRC conceals an essential factor, however: in this case the rider admitted his doping spontaneously, in the absence of any other evidence. (The current World Anti-Doping Code provides in Article 10.6.2 that in such case the period of ineligibility may be reduced with up to one half.)
  • as another example of “the UCI being lenient on sanctions” the CIRC refers to the decision of CAS in case 2001/A/345. This is quite astonishing, because the UCI – although attending the hearing – was not even a party to those proceedings!
  • the CIRC refers to a case (the last case in footnote 226) where the rider was sanctioned with one month for an inadvertent absence from doping control. However the CIRC gives no reference for this case, so I cannot check what it is about. More sloppiness. Apparently the CIRC’s budget did not run to proof-reading its own report.

I really can’t understand how the CIRC, or even the CIRC’s legal assistants who must have been selected by Haas, a CAS arbitrator himself (!), have abandoned the profound analysis and independent judgment of CAS arbitrators: any means at all, including misrepresenting the work of CAS itself, appear to be justified if they present the UCI as being lenient on sanctions. Either it is incompetence, or it is extraordinary bias, or it is fear of (or dependence on) WADA.

 

Completely false, too, is the CIRC’s statement that the “UCI strongly opposed initiatives of harmonisation of sanctions”. On the contrary, the UCI was strongly in favour of harmonisation, which however is different from a standardisation in the sense of: the same sanctions in all sports and in all circumstances. For the UCI, harmonisation meant that sanctions should fit the violation and all relevant circumstances, so that the same violation in the same circumstances should carry the same sanction. The CIRC had at its disposal all the documents in this respect – and specifically more documents than just the one it is referring to: page 5 of the UCI’s brochure ‘40 years of fighting against doping’ which was published in July 2001 –, but it preferred to ignore them.

The CIRC clearly wants to suppress and condemn any debate about sanctions, which is characteristic of an “absolute authority” as WADA described itself in its email of 26 January 2013 to the UCI. Similarly, the CIRC conveniently forgets that, once the Code was introduced, the UCI accepted and strictly applied the sanctions under the Code.

Here, too, I cannot escape the impression that WADA and Dick Pound have had a big influence on the CIRC and in particular, I think, on Haas who, out of the three CIRC members, is the most familiar with anti-doping, with its legal aspects and with WADA itself.

And the 2009 and 2015 Codes, which introduced an even greater variety of sanctions, amply show that the UCI’s vision on flexible sanctions was the correct one.

For further considerations I refer to the article “UCI and anti-doping” on this website.

 

TUE

The CIRC writes a whole bucketload of nonsense about this subject.

“The UCI appeared to have had a policy of accepting backdated prescriptions”.   A serious investigation is not satisfied with appearances, but actually investigates the allegations. This the CIRC has not done. Or perhaps the CIRC simply wanted to avoid reporting the fact that there was no policy of accepting backdated prescriptions.

Futhermore, this false statement is an echo of what the CIRC writes on the Brochard and Armstrong cases: I refer in this respect to my articles on these cases under the tab “Medical prescriptions”.

Then the CIRC goes on: “The practice [of – allegedly – accepting backdated prescriptions] was justified by arguing that, from a health perspective, it made little difference whether the prescription was provided before or after testing”. This is so clearly complete nonsense:

  • No justification, as alleged by the CIRC, has ever been given
  • The issue has nothing to do with health
  • Whether the prescription was provided before or after testing has nothing to do with whether the prescription was backdated or not: these are totally different issues. A prescription delivered before testing can be backdated and a prescription made before the testing can be delivered after the testing. It is unbelievable that the members of the CIRC don’t see the difference, or that they simply signed whatever their junior assistants prepared for them. Otherwise, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that this statement was made on purpose, simply to mislead.

Then the CIRC makes a reference to the Independent Observers’ report at the 2003 Tour de France. This is scandalous!

First, the CIRC makes no reference to the observations that the UCI made on this report and that are available on WADA’s website just as is the IO report itself.

Second, the CIRC quotes the IO report partially and leaves out significant parts of the paragraphs quoted so as to conceal relevant information.

According to the CIRC, the IO team stated that it had found no “reliable scientific data” which could support a urinary excretion time “of this duration”. The CIRC leaves out the duration of the excretion time that was questioned by the IO team: it was 45 days or more for triamcinolone. The IO team calculated the excretion time from the date of the medical prescription and not from the date of the last use of the substance under the prescription. In doing so the IO team had found five cases in which the excretion time was 45 days or more (the maximum was 57 days). The UCI had answered that experience (and the UCI was almost the only IF with that experience, as other sports did not test for corticosteroids) had shown that triamcinolone could be detected up to three months after administration. So it was impossible to say that the excretion times calculated by the IO team were impossible.

The CIRC also quotes that the IO team had not found a medical justification for the use of glucocorticosteroids in two cases, but it completely ignores the explanation for that.

In one case, triamcinolone was found in the rider’s sample, but the doping control form mentioned betamethasone, another glucocorticosteroid. Upon examination, it turned out that a mistake had been made when filling in the form, as the riders’ health booklet did indeed mention triamcinolone.

In the other case, betamethasone had been found in the rider’s sample while the medical prescription was dated 39 days before the test. The medical prescription, however, was for a skin cream that the rider was entitled to use for a longer period so that he was still allowed to use it at the moment of the test. In addition, the use of a skin cream containing corticosteroids is authorized, but this of course is ignored by the CIRC, as its only objective is to bash the UCI.

In addition, the IO report states that the President of the CPLD, the then name of the French NADO, had summoned all of the riders concerned to provide medical justification for the use of the substances found. (Don’t forget that, until 2006, anti-doping testing in France was also governed by French law). CPLD has never reported that any therapeutic justification had been dismissed. This is also ignored by the CIRC, which instead creates false impressions by only quoting carefully selected parts.

As I indicated in my chapter about “Elite road cycling”, under the heading “TUEs”, CPLD had examined all medical justifications produced by riders in the 2000 and 2001 Tours de France.   The same happened in 2003 and I am certain that CPLD examined all medical justifications in the other years too. To my knowledge, not a single justification was found unsatisfactory by the CPLD.

But the CIRC is of course not interested in the truth. The methodology of the CIRC is simply to present a couple of misrepresented incidents as a deliberate policy.

 

The CIRC writes that “this lenient approach only started to change after the harmonization of the TUE requirements in the WADA Code. Only in 2004 did the UCI introduce a TUE process”. This is more nonsense and, moreover, a totally disgraceful statement for the CIRC members to make, given their reputations.

First of all, the UCI had no TUEs before it adopted the Code. A TUE is an autorisation to use otherwise forbidden substances. Before the adoption of the Code, UCI had NEVER authorized the use of an otherwise prohibited substance. In that, the UCI was much stricter than other sports: there was no leniency at all, as TUEs did not even exist. As the CIRC must have known given that it refers to the case in its footnote 129 (on page 129 of its report), the UCI appealed a decision to CAS where USADA refused to open disciplinary proceedings against the rider on the grounds that there was a documented medical justification for the use of the substance. The appeal was upheld by CAS (CAS 2003/A/505).

But the CIRC does not report this, of course; the CIRC is very selective; the CIRC refers to this CAS decision only to accuse UCI of being lenient as regards sanctions (see footnote 226 on page 129), although it was CAS that imposed a sanction of six months, while under the then UCI rules (2003) CAS could have imposed a sanction of two years. The UCI appealed to CAS, as USADA didn’t want to open a case. But the CIRC calls the UCI lenient. This is truly scandalous.

Second, prior to the Code there was a system under which some substances on the list were not forbidden and could therefore be used under certain circumstances: corticosteroids, local anaesthetics and beta-2 agonists. These were not TUEs as the use of the substance was not forbidden under the conditions stipulated in the list of prohibited substances. In fact, this system continues to exist under the Code where it is called “abbreviated TUEs”, but under conditions that have changed a couple of times since the original introduction of the Code.

Third, the UCI was to my knowledge the only anti-doping organization that required riders to submit a medical justification for the topical use of corticosteroids. This was not required by the anti-doping rules of the IOC, or under French law.

Fourth, the UCI was the first anti-doping organisation to test for glucocorticosteroids. It did so at the 1999 Tour de France. For some years the UCI was the only organisation to test for glucocorticosteroids.

This alleged “leniency” is a complete invention by the CIRC that relies on the reader being impressed by the reputation of its members and not knowing or understanding the real situation. The reality is completely different.

 

Evaluation of UCI anti-doping policies and structures

On pages 130-134, the CIRC does not hesitate to take it upon itself to make an evaluation. This is of course impossible, as the CIRC was not objective, not exhaustive and not correct in identifying and examining the relevant facts.

I think I have abundantly showed this, not only in this article, but also in the other articles on this website. The CIRC report is not an evaluation based upon an investigation, but rather just subjective mud-slinging.

The CIRC report is mere opinion, nothing more, from people who have not looked into any of the facts in an objective way; people who did not deign to hear the testimony of those of us who were accused; people who did not dare to look us in the eyes and ask us about these accusations when we were standing in front of them.

I am not impressed at all by this “evaluation” which is wrong, subjective, superficial and political. It is simply pandering to WADA and to Cookson, whose election campaign had to be vindicated.

So I totally reject that “evaluation” and will limit my further comments to some issues from the CIRC report that are, in fact, not an evaluation of the elements mentioned in section 2.3.1 of the CIRC report but new accusations.

 

On page 131, the CIRC quotes a paragraph from my election programme of 1991 and adds: “after 1992 similar public statements became rare”.   This is pure rabble-rousing of course: on the one hand there is one statement of 1991 and on the other hand “rare statements” after 1992. “Rare” is more than one.   In fact, the CIRC made no effort to identify similar public statements, otherwise it would at least have identified the “rare statements” it refers to. But it does not.

To start with, the CIRC ignores my 23-page contribution to the 1999 World Conference on Doping in Sport, the text of which I provided to the CIRC. And I gave similar presentations at conferences, IOC meetings, WADA meetings and UCI Congresses.

Above all, my awareness of the problem of doping in cycling has not only been expressed in words but also in the many actions and initiatives that I made the UCI undertake in the fight against doping.

The CIRC also writes that the communication strategy was primarily to divert public opinion from the idea of responsibility for the doping problem lying with UCI. The CIRC, of course, has not examined the UCI’s communication on the subject, it refers only to some selected press quotes in reaction to specific issues.

And, above all, I do indeed confirm that the doping problem in cycling is not the sole responsibility of the UCI. (I accept, of course, that the UCI had and continues to have a responsibility in fighting doping in cycling.)

The CIRC does not dare to state the opposite: it only – and in a cowardly way – suggests that perception.

In this respect, the CIRC refers to a statement that I would have made and that is “quoted” in footnote 232: I would have said that, if the public wants the riders to go 42 kilometres an hour, there’s only one way to get there: by doping. The source of this is Dick Pound, who spread the rumour that I had said this to him. But it is false: I never said that. In my report to the CIRC, in attachment 10a, I declared that I was prepared to declare under oath that the Pound’s statement that I told him that riders needed to dope was false, exactly the same as other statements he has made.   The CIRC did not ask me about this statement by Pound when I met them and yet they blithely reproduce this statement in their report. It is a travesty of elementary justice. And outrageously spineless. Yet another clear sign of Pound’s stamp on the CIRC’s report.

Similarly the CIRC’s statement (echoing various statements by Pound that he later retracted) that “the UCI leadership publicly disregard[ed] the magnitude of the problem” is baseless and contradicted by the facts and the many efforts and pioneering actions of the UCI in the fight against doping.

The CIRC’s statement that the focus was on health protection is false, as I have amply demonstrated, in particular in my article on “UCI and anti-doping” (see heading : Health and doping), my article on “The CIRC’s conclusions on the Brochard and Armstrong cases” and my article on “The health tests”.

Completely shameful is the CIRC’s “translation” of the alleged focus on health protection into “you may dope, unless it is really bad for your health” and also the statement that the UCI’s anti-doping strategy was directed against “the abuse of doping substances rather than the use of them”. The UCI has never allowed anyone to dope and I don’t think the CIRC wrote anything like that anywhere else in its report, nor has the CIRC provided a shred of evidence for this distasteful accusation.   The CIRC tries to conceal its lack of arguments with strong language.  (I would not be surprised either if the “evaluation” was written by a different junior assistant from the ones who wrote the various sections of the report that were meant to be “evaluated”).

 

The CIRC states, that more could have been done “to get the right sample from the right rider at the right time to the right laboratory”. One can always say that more could have done. But the CIRC fails to say what precisely could have been done more and how. Was the UCI wrong in sending samples for EPO analysis and corticosteroids analysis to the only labs that could perform such analyses?   At a time that the UCI was the only one to test for EPO and corticosteroids?   It is easy to make vague comments and insinuations afterwards.

On the other hand, I have clearly shown on this website that the CIRC not only could, but also should have done a lot more to conduct a serious investigation and write a decent report, and I do that clearly and concretely, point by point.

 

More nonsense from the CIRC:

  • “if possible the case was managed away”: here, the CIRC clearly refers to the corticosteroid cases of Armstrong and Brochard. I refer to my articles on these cases under the tab “medical prescriptions”.   From two (misinterpreted) cases, the CIRC confects a global policy that lasted 15 years! The only way in which the UCI could have “managed away” cases was by not appealing to CAS those cases where riders had been acquitted or sanctioned leniently. This the UCI did not do: dozens of appeals were filed with CAS, even before the introduction of the World Anti-Doping Code, such as in the cases of Pantani, Roux and the case mentioned in this section where USADA had accepted a medical condition (I will therefore not mention the name of the rider, but it is one of the CAS cases referred to by the CIRC in footnote 226) and many more.
  • “in case an AAF had to be ascertained according to the rules, the available discretionary powers were used to issue relatively lenient sanctions”. This is hilarious: the cases the CIRC refers to in this respect (see footnote 226) are all cases where CAS and not the UCI issued the sanctions and where CAS could have issued more severe sanctions under UCI’s rules than it did. This is really incredibile on the part of CIRC vice-president Ullrich Haas who is a CAS arbitrator himself and in fact discredits his colleagues at CAS.
  • “it appears that there was little impetus to address the roots of the problem or to discuss strategies against doping proactively…”; … “it seems that an active policy was seen as an impediment”; “the CIRC heard that people who criticised UCI’s anti-doping policy could be threatened…”: these appearances and rumours are not substantiated and completely false. They are sufficiently rebutted by the chapters and sections that I mention on this website.  It was certainly to impede an active antidoping policy that the UCI introduced the health tests, invested in research for detection methods, validated the EPO test two years before WADA and other IF’s, tested for EPO, corticosteroids, HBT, PFC’s… long before any other IF.
  • “it appears that there was little incentive for self-reflection within UCI leadership to reassess its anti-doping policy… even when concrete problems were brought to the attention of the UCI leadership”: of course the CIRC has not even seen, or it has ignored, the multiple discussions, meetings, correspondence, notes, rule changes etc etc throughout all of those years, in particular the discussions with WADA, CPLD and others. Hundreds of pages of evidence were available to the CIRC. Examples of these can be found in my report to the CIRC that the CIRC completely ignored. It is of course much easier to produce words than to examine files.
  • “in general there was a refusal to analyse and to comprehensively investigate the matter and tackle the origins of that problem (e.g. DCO’s, Lon Schattenberg-incident, Armstrong-incident, criticism by WADA etc.” If only the CIRC could have specified what it meant here, I could have given it an answer.   Anyway, I contest that that there was a refusal to analyse and investigate. Whenever possible and reasonable, things have been consistently improved over the years.

 

Here is my evaluation of the CIRC report: incredibly and pathetically low quality! It is a shameful blot on the supposed reputations of its authors.

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