WADA, cycling confirm doping probe

JOHANNESBURG -- Cyclists could be offered immunity to testify in the planned inquiry into the sport's drug-stained past, but it won't apply to Lance Armstrong.

A revision of the world anti-doping code is set to be voted on and adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency on the last day of its summit Friday. But the agency said Thursday it may contain a new provision for current cyclists to testify under the incentive of no ban in return for what they know about doping.

WADA President John Fahey said it will work on a "case by case" basis and apply only to riders currently competing, and therefore not Armstrong. He was banned for life in 2012 and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for serial doping.

"What is concluded is concluded," Fahey said.

On Friday, a move to increase bans for serious dopers from two years to four has widespread backing and is expected to be approved. Also, IOC Vice President Craig Reedie of Britain is the only candidate to succeed Fahey as WADA president.

Speculation has grown over the last week that Armstrong may seek a reduction in his life ban from organized sports in return for cooperating in an International Cycling Union investigation into doping. While a reduced ban remains a possibility, the disgraced American cyclist won't have his sanction completely removed or have the relatively short bans of other riders, WADA and UCI President Brian Cookson have said.

Fahey also explained a legal principle that meant the code's possible new clause allowing testimony in return for no sanction could be applied to the cycling inquiry, planned for next year, even though the code won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2015.

That follows comments from Cookson that there should be "incentives" for some people to testify in the commission, which will go ahead after an agreement between the UCI and WADA and following a private meeting between Cookson and Fahey at this week's World Conference on Doping in Sport.

Providing few details of the inquiry, WADA and the cycling body said in a joint statement that they have agreed on "the broad terms under which the UCI will conduct a commission of inquiry into the historical doping problems in cycling."

WADA is making progress in one of the key behind-the-scenes discussions at its conference, although revelations of problems with the doping laboratory in Russia, three months before the Winter Olympics, have given WADA another critical issue.

The agency has set up a disciplinary committee to investigate issues with its accredited Moscow lab, Fahey told The Associated Press, and a report was expected "in the not too distant future."

WADA has already revoked the accreditation of the Brazilian laboratory that was meant to test samples at next year's World Cup, giving the two major sports events next year problems with their drug-testing facilities.

"There is a matter that is being looked at at the present time with respect of the Russian laboratory," Fahey said, declining to give further details on the exact nature of the problems.

WADA regularly checks that its labs are working properly by sending them "blind samples," samples meant as tests to ensure the lab is giving correct findings. Any incorrect findings would raise concerns.

The Moscow lab is set to provide the facilities for a temporary testing base in Sochi for the Feb 7-23 Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, concerns over Jamaica and Kenya are also still on the WADA agenda at its four-day meeting, and its board will examine an audit of Jamaica's drug-testing program Friday.

The report hasn't been made public, but WADA appears content that Jamaica's government and the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission will make the required improvements to its testing program, which broke down leading to last year's London Olympics.

WADA also says it welcomes long-awaited moves this week by the Kenyan government to set up an investigation into allegations of widespread doping in the East African country's high-altitude training bases. Kenyan authorities promised an investigation more than a year ago.

Related Content