News 6th April 2016

Verbruggen files complaint with IOC Ethics Commission

Former President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Hein Verbruggen, has filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) against the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The complaint targets WADA’s Founding President Dick Pound and its current Director General David Howman, as well as the US Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart and its General Counsel Bill Bock.

In an Open Brief, published by SportKnowHowXL, Verbruggen alleges that WADA has been aware of the problem of doping in athletics for years yet remained silent, whilst accusing him of complicity in doping and corruption. He alleges that the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) lacked independence, as WADA was closely involved in appointing its members. The CIRC report found that under Verbruggen’s leadership (1991-2005), the UCI had prioritised growing cycling as a sport over tacking doping.

‘One thing is extremely important to note – in fact the most important outcome of the CIRC’, reads Verbruggen’s Open Brief. ‘This totally subjective Commission, co-appointed by WADA, could find no evidence whatsoever of any complicity or corruption within the anti-doping policies of the UCI during my presidency (1991 – 2005), nor indeed during that of my successor, Pat McQuaid (2005-2013)’.

However, Article 2.13 of the CIRC report goes to some lengths examining the conflict between Verbruggen and Pound. ‘There was an intense personal conflict between Hein Verbruggen and Dick Pound, which had negative consequences for the UCI and the public perception of the federation’, it reads. ‘In 2001 Dick Pound was a candidate to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch but he was beaten by the Belgian Jacques Rogge, who was supported by Hein Verbruggen. It was reported to the CIRC that this was the main reason and starting point of the conflict between the two men […] It is the CIRC’s view that the conflict between these two men as well as their very different philosophies of fighting doping in sport soured the relationship between UCI and WADA, which adversely affected the fight against doping.’

On a website which was launched in June last year, Verbruggen paid lawyers and ‘anti-doping experts’ to analyse the CIRC report. ‘This analysis has established conclusively that, for all of these many years, the priority of WADA and especially Dick Pound was not to catch Lance Armstrong et al. for doping, but instead to attack my honour and reputation’, reads Verbruggen’s Open Brief. ‘In short, their political agenda was more important to them than the fight against doping itself – and as a result the real fight against doping was abused for their political purposes’.

As reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative in June last year, Verbruggen took legal action against the UCI, claiming that it had used the CIRC report to defame him. UCI President Brian Cookson also asked Verbruggen to relinquish his honorary Presidency of the UCI. ‘I had no recourse but to complain to the IOC’s Ethics Commission, which resulted in an agreement whereby Cookson renounced his claim and promised to respect my Honorary Presidency, the UCI would also include a reference on its website to my website with the rebuttal of the CIRC report, and the UCI would pay a contribution towards my costs incurred for my defence against the CIRC report’, reads Verbruggen’s Open Brief. ‘All of these conditions were included in an agreement that was signed by Cookson, by me and by a representative from the IOC, which I see as clear recognition from the UCI. For my part, I then held off from taking any further action against the UCI. Having said that, I would also like other people’s misdeeds to be judged objectively. It is for this reason that I have lodged a complaint against Pound, Howman, Tygart and Bock with the Ethics Commission of the IOC, a body that I trust to remain fully objective!’

The complaint follows a request made to the WADA Foundation Board ‘to set up a permanent independent body, independent also from WADA, to monitor compliance and deal with any complaints about non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code by any anti-doping organization, including WADA’, as outlined in an op-ed published by Around The Rings. The Sports Integrity Initiative is awaiting a response from the IOC about the formal contents of Verbruggen’s complaint.

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