JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Cycling's governing body and the World Anti-Doping Agency have agreed an independent commission will look into the sport's drug-stained past, and Lance Armstrong will be invited to testify, UCI President Brian Cookson told The Associated Press.
Cookson said the International Cycling Union and WADA have an agreement in principle to work together in the investigation and hope to announce the move later Wednesday.
"We've agreed that we will cooperate," Cookson said. "We will have a commission of inquiry which the UCI will manage and run. We will agree on the detailed terms and conditions of that over the next few days, hopefully."
Cookson spoke to the AP soon after a private meeting with WADA President John Fahey at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in South Africa, where the agreement was reached.
Cookson couldn't say if disgraced rider Armstrong would have his ban reduced for cooperating with the commission. The American has hinted he should, but the United States Anti-Doping Agency brought the case against him. Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year after USADA's investigation into his serial doping. However, he recently claimed he was unfairly singled out and other riders who also doped got lesser punishments.
"He has admitted to cheating to win seven Tours de France," Cookson said. "Whether other people cheated or not is perhaps irrelevant. I can't see him getting the same sanctions (for) people who have previously given evidence."
Cookson will leave the issue of any leniency for Armstrong to USADA. The new cycling head, who was elected at the end of September on promises of cleaning up the sport and getting it to confront its dark doping history, said there needs to be some "incentive" to get some people to testify.
"Some people will come forward and give evidence because they simply want to get it off their chest. Others will not want to do that," Cookson said. "So, there has to be some form of incentive and that is one of the things we are working on in the detail with WADA."
The commission will be set up before the end of the year and should start work in early 2014. Cookson wants the investigation to be completed within a year, but he said he was "not putting that down as a firm deadline."
WADA President John Fahey said there was "a great deal of goodwill" between UCI and WADA now, but declined to give more details on the agreement until a joint message was released.
"I'm delighted that that (WADA-UCI) relationship now is back on the very best of terms," Fahey said. "We had some very rocky moments in the past, but I'll leave the past."
Cookson also has met with USADA chief executive Travis Tygart and chairman Ed Moses in Johannesburg and the U.S. anti-doping authority will be an "important partner" in the cycling inquiry, Cookson said. The UCI president was especially hopeful that Armstrong would come forward and testify over allegations of collusion between him and UCI officials when the American was doping to win his Tour titles and that some of the UCI's leadership at the time protected him.
"What I am really interested in, I have to say, is the allegations he has apparently made ... about the way in which he was given special treatment by the UCI. If that was true, I'd like to know about it," Cookson said.
Cookson has also held a meeting with the French anti-doping agency ALFD about cooperation at next year's Tour de France, part of the Briton's mission to make doping control in cycling independent from the UCI.
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