UCI obstructed Armstrong probe - Tygart

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Berlin - The International Cycling Union did all it could to stall its doping investigation into Lance Armstrong, US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart said on Wednesday.

“At every turn the UCI attempted to obstruct our efforts to reveal the truth,” Tygart told a special hearing of the Bundestag sports committee.

He added that the cycling body still “appears to be irresponsibly trying to script a self-interested ending to this affair”.

Tygart said the UCI's actions highlighted the need for doping agencies to have “true independence” to avoid any conflicts of interest arising from running the sport.

USADA fulfills its duties to catch drug cheats because “it does not have a conflicting duty to also protect the image of the sport it serves, or of commercial factors such as obligations to sponsors, owners or investors”, he said.

“I was shocked that (sporting) federations here still handle doping cases. It's what we call the fox guarding the hen house.”

Germany's National Anti-Doping Agency is headed by politicians responsible for sport, along with members of the German Olympic Sports Confederation and other sporting groups.

Apart from the potential conflict of interest, Tygart found another reason investigations should be in the hands of independent specialists: “Candidly, the work is too dirty and complicated for a sporting organisation. Don't forget, we collect urine and blood. It is a dirty process.”

Tygart also called for greater international co-operation in the fight against doping.

“Those that defraud sport through illegal drug use do not let international borders stop them from perpetuating their fraud. Some US athletes went to Spain for example, and other parts of the world, to live, to train, and to dope, specifically in locations where they thought they would not be tested, or where they were less likely to be the subject of an investigation,” he said.

“Given this, it is critical that anti-doping agencies also don't allow borders to prevent us from detecting the doping schemes wherever they may exist.”

Tygart pointed out that the vast majority of athletes are “perfectly willing to be held to a high standard” but that support can “become loose when they look around the world and don't see the same level elsewhere. We have to make sure the levels are the same worldwide.”

“Our Olympic athletes support our efforts. They want fans to be able to believe in their Olympic heroes.”

Tygart labelled the fight against doping as a “fight for the soul of sport”. - Sapa-AP

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