Cycling’s world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced it will set up an independent commission, with its members nominated by an independent sports body, to investigate UCI’s links with Lance Armstrong following the damning report by the United States Anti-doping Agency. This is an important step, but it is as important that the commission has strong terms of reference and independent credentials.
Below are our suggestions.
The independent commission should be established by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, as this is the independent authority accepted by all international and national sport bodies, including those involved in cycling, and athletes in juridical cases. CAS is highly respected for its independence.
The commission should be made up of independent experts and those from the cycling community.
For example, experts should be selected from the following areas:
- Sports law – a CAS arbitrator or a lawyer specialising in sport law
- The fight against doping – a medical expert
- Investigation – an active or former prosecutor
- Business – a compliance officer from a big sponsor company
- Civil society
The cycling world should be represented by:
- A cycling event organiser
- A president of a national cycling federation
- An athlete
How to ensure independence and transparency
Each member of the commission should undergo due diligence checks, preferably by CAS, to ensure they have no connection to doping or unethical behaviour inside and outside of sport. A detailed register of interests would need to be published for each member to avoid any conflict of interest.
The commission itself has to agree on the scope of its work, what its recommendations can be and how it will be organised. If required, an independent law firm or investigation company may be contracted, following a public tender by the commission, to conduct further investigations.
The commission should conduct its work with the greatest possible transparency, and make sure it publishes its budget, meeting agendas, as well as the minutes of all meetings and decisions in a timely manner. While the commission will bear in mind legitimate confidentiality and data protection considerations, every effort should be made to promote the maximum degree of transparency.
The resources, including travel expenses and daily allowances for the commission’s members as well as the cost for the secretariat/administration, should be financed by the UCI, the three big tour organisers (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta de España) as well as sponsors of the UCI, the big tours and the professional teams that compete in the tours. The costs of the secretariat should be borne by the CAS.
The commission should have unlimited access to all files. Every effort shall be made by the commission to ensure the data protection and privacy rights of third parties.
Only if the commission is seen to be transparent, independent and accountable can cycling rebuild its reputation and regain the trust of the millions of cyclists and fans who love the sport.
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After Armstrong's doping admission, world cycling needs increased transparency to cure the poor governance damaging its image.