USADA boss urges prosecution of ex-UCI chiefs
US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart says he is ready to assist in pursuing prosecution of former cycling chiefs accused in a new report of shielding Lance Armstrong from doping charges.
The report issued on Monday in Europe by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), gave a damning assessment of efforts by the International Cycling Union (UCI) under past presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid to protect Armstrong.
The American cyclist defeated cancer to win the Tour de France seven straight times from 1999-2005 but was stripped of the titles in 2012 and banned from the sport for life.
The fallen US hero, 43, now admits to taking banned performance-enhancing drugs.
"A stunning example of deceit found by the CIRC is that the UCI, under the explicit direction of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, commissioned a supposedly `independent` investigation of Armstrong`s positive samples from the Tour de France," Tygart said.
"According to the CIRC, the UCI then conspired to allow what was sold to the public as an `independent` report to be re-written by Armstrong`s own lawyer and sports agent in order to conceal Armstrong`s doping.
"USADA will work with the current UCI leadership to obtain the evidence of this sordid incident to ensure that all anti-doping rule violations related to this conduct are fully investigated and prosecuted, where possible," said Tygart, who guided the investigation that finally brought Armstrong down after he had weathered doping accusations for years.
Tygart noted that the report found that the UCI under McQuaid tried to "derail" USADA`s case against Armstrong in 2012.
"Here again, McQuaid`s actions were intended to prevent the truth about Armstrong`s doping and the UCI`s complicity in it from being exposed," Tygart said.
Neither McQuaid nor Verbruggen commented immediately upon the report.
The CIRC, led by Dick Marty, a Swiss politician and former state prosecutor, was set up following allegations that Armstrong made cash donations to the UCI in a bid to cover up doping failures.
Tygart praised current UCI president Brian Cookson, who ousted McQuaid in 2013, for publishing the report uncensored.
He applauded Cookson for making sure electronic data and the UCI computer servers were secured, so that evidence of the UCI`s past dealings on doping was preserved.
Tygart also backed the UCI`s move to put the sport`s drug-testing in the hands of an independent agency.
"The clear message of the CIRC report is what we have always said -- sport cannot effectively both promote and police itself, without the support of independent anti-doping organizations," he said.