Grey-Thompson on panel

  • Last Updated: December 1 2012, 10:50 GMT

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has been named on a three-person panel to assess the Lance Armstrong affair and the role of the International Cycling Union in the scandal, the world governing body has announced.

Lance Armstrong: Banned for life

The UCI in October ratified the sanctions recommended by the United States Anti-doping Agency, who conducted an investigation which concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Allegations of complicity and insider knowledge were levelled at the UCI and its leadership - all of which have been denied - and 11-time Paralympic champion Grey-Thompson forms part of the independent commission set up to establish the facts.

Australian John Coates, the president of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport assembled the commission, which is independent of the UCI and will be chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes QC will join Lords peer Grey-Thompson on the panel.

Armstrong did not cooperate with the USADA investigation and has been banned for life and stripped of all results from August 1, 1998, including seven Tour de France titles.

The commission, which will act as an external body and will be fully independent of the UCI, ICAS and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will hold a hearing in London between April 9-26, 2013.

A report is to be submitted to the UCI by June 1, 2013, or shortly afterwards. The subjects for discussion, or terms of reference, were drawn up by the commission members, with plans to determine facts, examine evidence and make recommendations.

The questions asked are comprehensive in scope, such as: whether the UCI was aware of the doping practices at US Postal and if not, why not; whether anti-doping policies and procedures were adequate; and, whether there was evidence of widespread doping which was ignored.

The terms of reference also include questions relating to Armstrong's relationship with the UCI. For example, whether Armstrong made payments to the UCI and whether or not these payments were appropriate.

The UCI has previously admitted it accepted a donation from Armstrong in 2002, but strongly denies it was connected to any cover-up of a positive test.

Further subjects for consideration include whether those convicted of doping offences should be able to work in cycling and if not, how such a measure would be enforced.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said: "The wide-ranging terms of reference demonstrate the Commission's determination to review fully the issues contained in the USADA report and I welcome that.

"The commission's report and recommendations are critical to restoring confidence in the sport of cycling and in the UCI as its governing body.

"We will co-operate fully with the commission and provide them with whatever they need to conduct their inquiry and we urge all other interested stakeholders to do the same.

"We will listen to and act on the commission's recommendations."

McQuaid then took the opportunity to respond to numerous critics of the UCI, with groups formed to apply pressure on the world governing body and its leadership.

"The appointment of these three eminent figures demonstrates clearly that the UCI wants to get to the bottom of the Lance Armstrong affair and put cycling back on the right track," McQuaid added.

"Rather than simply attacking the UCI, our critics now have an opportunity to be part of the solution.

"I would ask them, therefore, to make their representation to the independent commission - and to start to put cycling first.

"The costs of the independent commission will be a significant burden on the UCI. However, it is clear that only such a decisive and transparent examination of the past will answer our critics by thoroughly examining our assertion that the UCI's anti-doping procedures are and have been among the most innovative and stringent in sport."

Former wheelchair racer Grey-Thompson is an 11-time Paralympic champion and respected figure across sport and beyond.

British Cycling welcomed the formation of the independent commission.

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: "I look forward to hearing the commission's recommendations - this is a crucial step on the road to repairing the damage done to the sport in recent years."

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