The International Cycling Union (UCI) have been urged to reconsider offering an amnesty for riders who admit taking performance-enhancing drugs in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The independent panel probing claims of a cover-up between the sport's governing body and the shamed US rider suggested an amnesty would be "in the interest not only of the commission of inquiry but also of professional cycling as a whole".
The commission, set up by the UCI in October, comprises two Britons - former appeal court judge Philip Otton and Paralympian great Tanni Grey-Thomson and an Australian lawyer, Malcolm Holmes. The panel noted in a statement that the UCI had rejected the idea of the establishment of a "truth and reconciliation" commission last January.
In contrast, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which last year said Armstrong was at the heart of the most sophisticated doping program in the history of sport, favors a "warts-and-all" approach to allow the sport to wipe the slate clean. Pressure group "Change Cycling Now", which includes former US champion and Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, backs calls for a truth commission followed by partial or full amnesties for riders willing to admit doping.
The independent commission's comments come on the eve of the broadcast of a pre-recorded interview between Armstrong and chat show host Oprah Winfrey in which he admits doping. The panel, which is due to hold hearings in London in April and report by June 1, said they regretted that the UCI on the one hand and World Anti-Doping Agency and USADA on the other could not agree on a common strategy to tackle the issue. The trio said it had written to world cycling chiefs to ask them to reconsider their position.