Last week Dick Marty, Chairman of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission [CIRC], and I briefed the media on the remit of the Commission and what it is seeking to achieve. We also appealed to anyone in the cycling family and beyond to come forward with information that can assist the CIRC in its inquiry.
There is no question that Mr Marty and his colleagues have an enormous amount of work to do over the coming year, and their challenge is not an easy one. But I am confident that they have the skills, experience, integrity and budget to ensure their work is both thorough and forensic and that their recommendations will have a real impact on how our sport is regulated going forward.
It is vital to the future of cycling that relevant people do come forward – whether invited by the CIRC or not – to help us build for the years ahead. I want parents to know that they can bring their children to our sport safe in the knowledge that they can rise to the very top without cheating. I hope potential witnesses will see this bigger picture and that, collectively, understand we all have a moral duty to do the right thing.
The aim is not just to learn the full truth about cycling’s doping culture of the past but to help us frame a truly robust set of rules for the future.
While the CIRC does not have the power to compel anyone to testify – that is the privilege of governments and national and international courts of justice – I am confident that witnesses will come forward. This is partly because the CIRC has the authority to both offer and recommend reduced sanctions to any license holder who provides relevant evidence.
What I am certain of is that if witnesses do not come forward, they run the very real risk of others giving evidence against them. And of course, an individual can only take advantage of the potential of reduced sanctions if they come forward. Also, let’s be clear, the CIRC’s ability to offer reduced sanctions will only last while the Commission is active.
In the current media climate of serial “revelations” by riders and others, surely it is better to work with the Commission, give evidence on your own behalf and benefit from the reduced sanctions now. Why wait wondering what the next book or television interview will reveal about past activities.
The CIRC has a very powerful set of tools that have been given to it by the UCI and agreed in full with WADA. It’s not a Court of Law, it cannot subpoena – but nor could a truth and reconciliation commission. But within the powers available, it has everything that it could have, including the ability to strongly suggest to individuals that they should appear and to report if they don’t.
The reality is that anything else could take years to agree, more years to establish and carry out its work, and we don’t have that luxury. All at a cost of many millions, which no-one would be prepared to pay for. Meanwhile the sport could go on lurching from crisis to crisis as more revelations are published usually in the interests of, and in ways that benefit, the people who have caused the damage in the first place.
Finally, while the focus of the CIRC’s work is the period between 1998-2013, it can go back further if it wishes to. There is no backstop beyond which evidence would be inadmissible.
The CIRC’s door is open. I hope the cycling family and enlightened commentators encourage potential witnesses to come forward, and don’t give them excuses for staying silent. The CIRC is navigating complex and difficult waters but this important Commission can and will work if the cycling world wants it to. It is time for change, time to fully come to terms with the past and prepare for a very bright future, and the CIRC is a vital part of that process.