Doping fight not over but field more even, says report

Sun Mar 8, 2015 8:21pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Although doping has not been eradicated in elite cycling, it is less prevalent with fewer teams and riders gaining from cheating, an independent commission report has found.

The Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), set up last year to look into the sport's ugly past, including the Festina affair and Lance Armstrong doping scandal, said an environment existed "where riders can now at least be competitive when riding clean."

"The general view was that doping is either less prevalent today or that the nature of doping practices has changed such that the performance gains are smaller," the CIRC report, published in full by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday, said.

The CIRC interviewed 174 officials, team managers, doctors and riders during the course of their investigation, which also found that the previous UCI management teams led by Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid showed leniency, especially towards Armstrong, in the fight against doping.

It stated that "the main goal (of a report into allegations that Armstrong used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France) was to ensure that the report reflected UCI’s and Lance Armstrong’s personal conclusions."

"UCI had no intention of pursuing an independent report. UCI leadership failed to respect the independence of the investigator they commissioned," the report said.

American Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from racing in 2012 after a U.S. Anti-Doping investigation (USADA). He later admitted in a television interview using performance-enhancing drugs during his championship run.