After Michael Rasmussen dropped a few people in the hot water (or soup?) with revelations contained in his book (Gul Feber – ‘Yellow Fever’) and during promotional interviews, there was another surge of anger and despair.

Another round of names named, more skeletons falling out of closets, more accusations and confusion about a way forward out of the post USADA-Armstrong fall out. So many issues still remain unresolved.

And yet, for all there was a sense of deja-vu about Rasmussen’s revelations, the one thing that’s different this time around is that there’s a new man at the top of the UCI, President Brian Cookson (as well as a new vice-president and legal counsel).

In other words, there’s new UCI management with less in the way of history and Cookson, in an interview with William Fotheringham in the Guardian, has expressed an interest in breaking the impasse that has left Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel on the outside looking in.

Speaking in the Guardian today (Tuesday 5 November), UCI president Cookson said, “I don’t want to talk about any individual, however significant. There will be an opportunity for anyone who wants to contribute, but it will be on terms dictated by Wada and it will be the same terms and conditions for everyone.”

While on the face of it that seems like ‘business as usual’ it actually appears to open a door for the demonised duo who both feel that they have been singled out for exceptional punishment – there were no deals offered to Armstrong by USADA’s boss Travis Tygart who, some suggest, is still trying to dictate terms to Armstrong and Bruyneel.

When informed of Cookson’s most recent comments, Armstrong replied “That sounds promising, I’m waiting for the call.” So, if the new UCI president is able and Armstrong is willing, what is there to stop a dialogue being opened? Has Tygart still got the UCI on the back foot? The notion that USADA might be dictating terms for a meaningful UCI Truth and Reconciliation process is not a happy one.

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  • Warren569

    I am still trying to grasp why Lance’s ‘crimes’ are being lumped together as a whole. What I mean is, to recap; he has cheated by taking banned substances and therefore committed sporting fraud; he has lied under oath in court when defending himself, maintaining he was riding clean; he has slandered a number of people; he has also coerced team-mates to take drugs ‘for the cause’; he has also ruined peoples reputations/businesses/livelihoods etc. when they dared to stand in his way. If we take each of these on their own merits though, then I believe he should have the opportunity to provide information (in the fight against doping) in return for a reduced ban, as that is what another rider would get if we were only talking about doping. All of the other ‘crimes’ are being dealt with through the legal system, which could result in Lance being jailed/bankrupted etc. I just don’t understand how the rules can be bent, even if we all think Lance should stay away from cycling forever…after all he was only caught once, so he didn’t have the opportunity to clean up his act to avoid a lifetime ban by being caught twice?

  • KennyP

    Robert, clearly LA has a big case to answer, but the notion that the UCI covered up for him (as opposed to not actually looking too hard for him or others) hasn’t really gained much traction from any of the witnesses who have spoken out. I’m as curious as the next journo to find out.

    What is not in any doubt is that he’s as guilty as the rest of them who have been exposed and his behaviour was truly ugly. The question is, if USADA offered every rider who testified six month ‘deals’ but banned him for life, does that lifetime punishment fit his crimes? Between a six month ban and a total lifetime ban from sport, there’s surely room for negotiation, particularly if it means getting him to testify under oath.

  • John Westwell

    Stewart, I don’t think the world is as black and white as you portray. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the whole US cycling team blood doped and subsequently won a number of gold medals. But – at that time – it was perfectly legal to do so. What’s changed in the meantime? Who’s to say that training at altitude (which produces a similar physiological effect to blood doping) or sleeping in hypobaric chambers isn’t cheating? The line between what’s cheating and what isn’t is more blurred than it appears.

  • Stewart

    Oh Eli how naive , LA ruined lives and careers without a thought for others. If someone had stolen your dreams and aspirations you would want to see them pay. Remember he only said “sorry” after he was caught and then only when he thought he had the most to gain from doing it. Tell me one rider that has show contrition before he was test positive or some other rider “outed ” him? They keep silent until caught! Cheats are cheats that’s it !

  • Robert

    Kenny P. The main point here is that if anyone is in a position to expose just how far the UCI went in protecting Armstrong, it is Armstrong himself, and he is very much under USADA jurisdiction. If someone ‘persuades’ Armstrong to tell the whole truth (and Tygart might well play a key role here) then the complicity of the UCI will be laid bare and any other investigations will be pushing on an open door. Or rather they will simply have to walk over it as lays, wrenched from it hinges, on the floor.

    P.s. eli, you seem to think that Armstrong’s ‘crime’ was simply doping. In reality the way he conspired with others, bullied people into silence, slandered whole nations such as ‘The French’ and so forth is what he truly deserves to be held accountable for.

  • eli

    All being said , Lance is still one of the greatest athletes to ever get on a bicycle , and the fact that no other cyclists have had to endure life bans , I mean hey the guy has an ego problem yes but bottom line , punish him with a year or two and the dollar figure alone is the greatest punishment . . . .. . . . .. .time to give Lance a break.

  • Ian Franklin

    Would you trust Lance Armstrong? Sadly, those of us who are experienced in these areas are concerned about what many commentators have called his ‘sociopathology’. Lance does have huge problems about control, honesty, openness and so on. These traits mirror those of people who suffer from this condition. Given his history of lying under oath and cheating all and sundry I would be very suspicious about his motives as a contributor to the truth and reconciliation process. he is an experienced manipulator and in a fairly desperate situation right now. If anyone from the UCI reads this my message is ‘please be very careful and approach LA with an understanding of his possible mental condition’. Indeed, it is because of his perceived condition that I retain some sympathy for him.

  • Steve Upchurch

    Typically controlling Armstrong, “Call me”. He should be doing the calling! Truth & Recociliation will be about Armstrong from Armstrongs perception not about the sport with him a totally fraudalent and manipulative player in that sport. Cookson & WADA have got to control this and stop him being the star billing in this process.

  • KennyP

    Last time I checked Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, only had jurisdiction over US athletes. Since TT reckoned the US Postal regime was the biggest doping conspiracy in the history of sport and involved riders and staff from other nations, surely Wada and UCI are in a better position to see the Truth and Reconciliation out?

    A lot of people rather hope that with a new president, new staff and (presumably) a new attitude at UCI HQ, there’s room for movement on both sides.

    TT has done his bit – as has Jeff Novitzky and the FDA before him. But given the limits of USADA’s jurisdiction, I don’t see how TT “is in a position to force the whole truth into the open” at all. And if TT is holding out, then he’s potentially getting in the way of T&R, is he not?

  • Robert

    “The notion that USADA might be dictating terms for a meaningful UCI Truth and Reconciliation process is not a happy one.” Why? If it wasn’t for USADA the UCI would have continued to do everything in its power to keep the truth about Armstrong buried. What’s more, given the vested interest the UCI, as an organisation, still has in keeping its own role in the Armstrong conspiracy under wraps, it is likely that only someone like Tygart is in a position to force the whole truth into the open.