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Independent report into doping damns cycling chiefs, targets Armstrong

An independent report has heavily criticized the International Cycling Union (UCI) for its handling of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The 227-page report also said doping remains an ongoing problem in the sport.

Cycling continues to struggle with widespread doping, that's the bottom line of a new report from the Cycling Independent Reform Commission.

In a bid to investigate how to stem erosion in trust in the sport caused by doping scandals through the 1990s and 2000s, the CIRC was set up last January, and has now heavily criticized the sport's leadership throughout that era.

Former UCI presidents, Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, were condemned for their behaviour towards cycling's most famous doper, Lance Armstrong. However the pair were cleared of the allegation that the former seven-time Tour de France winner paid bribes to cover up any positive testing, or independent reports.

"The UCI exempted Lance Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping," the report said.

Pat McQuaid

Pat McQuaid was president of the UCI from 2006 to 2013

US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart says he is ready to assist in pursuing prosecution of the former cycling chiefs accused in the new report.

"USADA will work with the current UCI leadership to obtain the evidence of this sordid incident to ensure that all anti-doping rule violations related to this conduct are fully investigated and prosecuted, where possible," said Tygart.

Opened up to scrutiny

A total of 174 anti-doping experts, officials, riders and other interested parties were interviewed in the 3 million euro ($3.3 million) report. CIRC Chairman Dr Dick Marty, a former Swiss prosecutor and two vice-chairs, German anti-doping expert Professor Ulrich Haas and expert investigator Peter Nicholson, compiled the document.

"Very few, if any sports, have opened themselves up to this level of independent scrutiny and while the CIRC report on the past is hard to read for those of us who love our sport, I do believe that cycling will emerge better and stronger from it," current UCI president Brian Cookson said Monday.

However, as well as damning the sport's past, the report also uncovered ongoing issues with doping in the sport. "The CIRC considers that a culture of doping in cycling continues to exist, albeit attitudes have started to change," it said.

One "respected" witness estimated that around 90 percent of riders are doping, while "three to four" top teams have a widespread reputation for cheating. Many are apparently using micro doses to avoid detection, giving small performance gains. Under that method, riders can take a micro drug dose in the evening and expect to test negative again by 6 am the next morning, the report said.

apc/al (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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