Speaking to a handful of journalists at the Tour Down Under in Australia this morning, Brian Cookson said that he ‘s "leaving the door open for a reduction on Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban".
However, the new UCI president was quick to stress that the final decision would be left to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and USADA ( US Anti-Doping Agency) officials, not him.
One of the first tasks of the UCI President when he took over last September was to authorise the creation of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC).
The commission will look into the doping scourge that has plagued men’s professional cycling and allegations the UCI were complicit or involved in cover ups.
Armstrong has not confirmed whether he will front the CIRC.
Cookson said the UCI would soon announce the specific terms and conditions of the commission, including an agreement with WADA over sanction reductions for riders who provide substantial assistance.
"The situation of those riders … who are currently serving bans is a little bit different," Cookson added.
"There will be the possibility of a reduction.
"The commission will have to make an assessment of that on a case-by-case basis."
Cookson also said the commission or the UCI would not have the final say on whether a rider such as Armstrong would received a reduction.
"It all depends on what information Lance has and what he’s able to reveal," Cookson said.
"Actually that’s not going to be in my hands – he’s been sanctioned by USADA.
"They would have to agree to any reduction in his sanction based on the validity and strength of the information that he provided.
"If they’re happy, if WADA are happy, then I will be happy."
The three-man commission includes former Australian military officer Peter Nicholson, a specialist investigator.
Cookson revealed all three commission members had done their own homework before accepting their roles.
"They don’t want their own personal reputation damaged by any hint of a suggestion that they’ve been involved in – let’s call it – a whitewash," Cookson said.
The UCI president asked about Australian Stuart O’Grady, who has confessed to doping in 1998.
O’Grady, who retired last year, insists he only doped once.
"I’m not going to comment on an individual if I can avoid it, for obvious reasons," Cookson said.
"But what I will say is I would encourage everyone to tell all of the truth.
"If you tell a partial truth – and I’m not saying anyone is doing (that) – the thing about the truth is it comes out in the end.
"It might be six months, it might be 10 years, it might be a generation, but it comes out in the end.
"It’s better and less painful for everyone."
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