USADA chief confident truth commission is ‘imminent’

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Travis Tygart expects the UCI to move forward with a truth commission in the next few weeks. Photo: AFP

For all the non-stop talk of a vast truth-telling commission since last year’s doping revelations, real action has been scarce. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO, however, believes that will change, and soon.

“We’ve been screaming from the mountain tops at every chance we’ve gotten. Well over a year ago now, to have a process where you give the athletes the opportunity and others to come forward and be truthful, and you put a stake in the ground,” Travis Tygart, USADA CEO, told VeloNews. “We are confident that it’s imminent that a process to give it a chance to unshackle itself from the past is actually going to happen very soon.”

Last week, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career, and that he had worked with USADA. Tygart said he understood the frustrations that come admission by admission.

“Look, I understand the frustration, whether it’s Ryder or anyone else coming out. That frustration ought to be aimed not at those riders who have voluntarily come in and been truthful with authorities at this point. That frustration ought to be aimed at [the] UCI. And look — we’re as hopeful as we’ve ever been with the new leadership … we’ve had very good, productive conversations,” he said.

New UCI president Brian Cookson pledged to make an open process a priority as a candidate for president, and over the weekend told The Guardian that an amnesty program was a tricky process.

“It’s difficult to do within the WADA Code. If people have committed an offence, they are still guilty. I have a lot of sympathy for people who say, ‘OK, it’s outside the statute of limitations but that guy stole my career,’” he said. He also said that Lance Armstrong, who has said he’d be the “first man at the door” if a truth commission were to take shape, hasn’t been in touch.

Tygart has maintained a persistent call for a commission since his reasoned decision in the Armstrong rocked pro cycling in the fall of 2102. Time, he said, should be a driving factor.

“And we were, over a year ago, at a point where that Omerta could have been crashed and removed for good for a period of time, and the UCI just decided to kick the can. And it’s their process that would have to happen for it to be fully done. And they just kicked the can continually down the road,” he said. “Now, the can’s been picked up, and we have all the hope and confidence with the current UCI leadership that they are on the eve in the next, you know, in the next weeks, not several weeks, not months, but weeks, of having a plan in place to address it all.”

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