WADA, cycling body unite on doping inquiry

The World Anti-Doping Agency and cycling’s governing body will
work together to investigate the sport’s dark doping past.
Cycling’s new leader said there should be ”incentives” for some
people to testify, raising the possibility of leniency for Lance
Armstrong.

The two organizations provided few details in announcing the
agreement late Wednesday at the World Conference on Doping in
Sport.

Brian Cookson, the new president of the International Cycling
Union, told The Associated Press earlier that there was an
agreement and Armstrong would be invited to testify. The agreement
followed a private meeting between Cookson and WADA President Johan
Fahey at the conference.

Armstrong was banned for life in 2012 and stripped of his seven
Tour de France titles for doping. He has suggested in interviews
that he’d be willing to talk to the commission in return for a
reduction of his ban.

Cookson, who was elected in September on promises of confronting
the sport’s drug-stained past, said his body had no power to reduce
Armstrong’s ban in return for him telling what he knows. But he
conceded ”there has to be some form of incentive” for some
witnesses.

Any possible leniency for Armstrong from USADA would also have
to be weighed against the opinion of WADA and the International
Olympic Committee. IOC President Thomas Bach said he opposed any
lessening and would be ”very uncomfortable” with it.

Cookson said the commission would likely start work in early
2014 and he wanted to finish within 12 months.

Meanwhile, concerns over Jamaica and Kenya are still on the WADA
agenda at its four-day summit, and the world anti-doping
authority’s board will examine its report from an audit of
Jamaica’s drug-testing program on Friday.

Jamaica Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley told delegates
Thursday that her government would now give more money to the
national anti-doping body after the revelations of a major
breakdown in its testing program last year – possibly one of the
recommendations from the WADA report, which hasn’t been made public
yet.

Neita-Headley spoke of the country’s ”financial difficulties,”
and USADA said it has been asked for help by its Jamaican
counterparts.

WADA has provided a copy of its report into the country’s
drug-testing breakdown to the Jamaican government and anti-doping
officials and has asked for their feedback before any findings are
announced following Friday’s board meeting.

WADA also says it welcomes long-awaited moves this week by the
Kenyan government to set up an investigation into allegations of
widespread doping in the East African country’s high-altitude
training bases. Kenyan authorities had promised an investigation
over a year ago.

In its main business in Johannesburg, WADA will vote on proposed
changes to its anti-doping code on Friday, and is expected to bring
in longer bans for serious dopers among other updates. The new code
will take effect Jan. 1, 2015 and in time for the next Summer
Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

WADA is pushing for a doubling of bans for intentional doping
offenses from two years to four, ensuring a doping cheat will miss
at least one Olympics. That proposal, the most obvious deterrent
being considered, appears to have widespread approval.

FIFA backs the move to four-year bans, although chief medical
officer Jiri Dvorak said the world soccer body considered
provisions for leniency for players who test positive for ”social
drugs” like marijuana were also important.

Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP