Former International Cycling Union (UCI) president Hein Verbruggen could be called before the independent commission investigating historical doping allegations, the global governing body’s current chief said Monday. Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was banned for life last year for doping offenses, accused Verbruggen of being involved in a cover up over a positive test for a steroid in 1999, the year he won his first of seven Tours de France – now all stripped from the American.
A year earlier the Tour had been rocked by the Festina team doping scandal and Armstrong told Monday’s Daily Mail: “Hein just said, ‘This is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina, so we’ve got to come up with something’. So we backdated the prescription.”
Verbruggen had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and current UCI president, Britain’s Brian Cookson, who replaced Verbruggen’s successor Pat McQuaid in September, is keen to finally get to the bottom of the matter.
“The UCI’s Independent Commission of Inquiry is in the process of being set up and we are in advanced discussions with stakeholders on its terms of reference to allow full investigation of any allegations relating to doping and wrongdoing at the UCI,” a statement issued by the global governing body said.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. “The commission will invite individuals to provide evidence and we would urge all those involved to come forward and help the commission in its work in the best interests of the sport of cycling. This investigation is essential to the well-being of cycling in fully understanding the doping culture of the past, the role of the UCI at that time and helping us all to move forward to a clean and healthy future.”