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