1. Background

Page last updated: 01 November 2013

 

1.1 On 19 November 2012, my appointment to undertake a review of Cycling Australia's (CA) approach to anti-doping was confirmed by Senator the Hon. Kate Lundy, Minister for Sport, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, and Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation. The letter of appointment and the Terms of Reference are included in this Report as Appendix A.

1.2 In this chapter I note the circumstances in which this Review became necessary and make brief reference to the ways in which sporting authorities, and cycling in particular, have responded to the incidence of doping. It is against that background, with an appreciation of the present culture of cycling in Australia and internationally, that the recommendations in this Report have been formulated.

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United States Anti-Doping Agency inquiry

1.3 The Review was requested in the wake of the investigation of the United States Anti-Doping Agency(USADA) into the activities of American cyclist Lance Armstrong and of a number of other cyclists, doctors, a trainer and a soigneur associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Discovery Channelteams, during the years 1998 to 2012.

1.4 Central to the inquiry was the period when Lance Armstrong, as a member of those teams, won the Tour de France on seven occasions between 1999 and 2005, but it also related to the period that followed his return to racing in 2009. The Reasoned Decision of USADAF1 (the USADA Decision) was released on 10 October 2012, although some details of the information that had been provided by American cyclist Floyd Landis had already made its way to the media, and had come to the attention of CA.

1.5 As a result of the USADA Decision, Lance Armstrong received a lifetime ban and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, a decision that was ratified by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Two of the team doctors, Dr Michele Ferrari and Dr Luis Garcia del Moral, received lifetime bans, and six of the riders who were still racing received suspensions.

1.6 A review of the USADA Decision shows that evidence was collected in the form of admissions from a number of elite professional cyclists riding in the World Tours of their participation in an organised team-based doping conspiracy or conspiracies.

1.7 The practices that were disclosed ranged across a number of possibilities, involving the use and distribution of prohibited performance enhancing substances including corticosteroids, testosterone, erythropoietin (EPO) and peptide hormones such as human growth hormone; the use of prohibited methods such as blood transfusions; and the adoption of various strategies to avoid anti-doping controls, including micro-dosing. They also extended to various methods of bypassing or frustrating the whereabouts reporting regime that came into effect for cycling from about 2004, and of enforcing secrecy.2 Of particular concern was information received suggesting that pressure and threats were directed to team members who rode in the peloton to participate in these practices and to enforce a code of silence, or risk being dropped from the team or demoted.

1.8 The disclosures were not entirely surprising having regard to the long-standing reputation of the Tour de France for instances of cheating, and doping, that seems to have dated back to its inception, and to the individual instances that were detected during the years preceding the period reviewed in the USADA investigation, including some deaths that were attributed to the use of amphetamines and particularly of EPO in its period of experimental use during the late 1980s and early 1990s.3

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Development of an international anti-doping framework

1.9 In fairness to cycling it was not the only sport that has been affected by instances of doping during the years preceding 1999 and subsequently. TheInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) had adopted a positive approach from at least 1967, when it established the IOC Medical Commission that prepared a prohibited substances list for Olympic sports, and that carried out testing during the Olympic Games commencing from the 1968 Mexico Games.4 It added anabolic steroids to this list in 1976,5 blood doping from 19866 and EPO from 1990.7

1.10 The UCI, founded in 1900, established its own Medical Commission in 1964 for the purpose of collecting information and providing education in relation to doping. This was followed in 1992 by the establishment of the UCI Anti-Doping Commission, in 1997 by the creation of the UCI Sporting Safety and Condition Commission, and in 1998 by the establishment of the Council for the Fight Against Doping with a mandate to collect funds from UCI partners to support its anti-doping effort. Contemporaneously with those developments it introduced a haematocrit threshold of 50% which when exceeded would incur a no-start penalty and a 15-day stand down or rest period.

1.11 However, the critical step that marked the beginning of a more aggressive and coordinated response was one that occurred during the period reviewed by the USADA investigation. Following the first World Conference on Doping in Sport in Lausanne in 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was created. The Copenhagen Conference on Doping in Sport in March 2003, adopted the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping in Sport, and this was followed by the introduction of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), effective from 1 January 2004. In October 2005, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the International Convention Against Doping in Sport, to which Australia became a signatory in January 2006.

1.12 Additionally, in 2005 a web-based anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS) was launched, and has subsequently been introduced and implemented by most anti-doping agencies and by WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratories. A number of countries (including Australia) had introduced their own web-based systems (prior to the introduction of ADAMS). The existence of these systems is critical for the operation of the registered testing pool (RTP) programs that are now in place. ADAMS constitutes a clearing house for the storage of data, including athletes' whereabouts information, laboratory results of the testing of individual athletes, therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), and details of anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs). Provision is made for the sharing of information between relevant agencies. Notably the United States, New Zealand, Switzerland and Ireland use a common system known as SIMON. Australia uses its own system known as EUGENE whilst having access to some information in ADAMS.

1.13 In 2008, the UCI created the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation to bring together the anti-doping functions of the Commissions and Council that it had previously created. Its objectives are to manage the activities and funding of its anti-doping program. The funding is provided by the UCI, riders and the UCI Pro Tour and UCI Pro Tour Continental teams and is managed by the foundation as a separate institution in order to quarantine the monies received for anti-doping purposes.

1.14 Since 2009, the year in which Lance Armstrong resumed competing, although without the same success as previously, there have been further developments including the revision that year of the WADC and of the accompanying standards that were then adopted by the signatories. In December of that year approval was given by WADA to the Athlete Biological Passport operating guidelines, initially developed by the UCI, which provide for an electronic record to be built up of an athlete's individual limits of haematological and steroid profiles, based on urine and blood tests. Then in May 2011, the UCI management committee approved the amendment of the UCI Regulations to prohibit and sanction the use of injections of medicines (or other substances) without a clear medical indication, which is now reflected in a no-needle policy.

1.15 The number of tests carried out by the UCI for the period 20062011 is shown in the following table.8

Testing Type 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
In-competition tests Urine 5,363 5,425 5,509 5,375 5,247 5,515
Blood 51 86 587 667 627 631
Out-of-competition tests Urine 152 1,051 2,013 2,349 2,067 2,385
Blood 4 406 4,649 6,731 4,981 3,314
Pre-competition tests Blood           1,299
Total anti-doping tests   5,570 6,968 12,758 15,122 12,922 13,144
Pre-competition tests for blood medical monitoring (i.e. not for anti-doping purposes)   2,683 2,881 466 577 594 601
Total tests   8,253 9,849 13,224 15,699 13,516 13,745

N.B. Pre-competition tests are recorded as a separate item from 2011 to better reflect the Athlete Biological Passport tests.

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Change in culture

1.16 It appears to have been accepted by the sport, as was confirmed by a number of the professional riders and coaches to whom I spoke during this Review, that there was a substantial change in the culture and attitude to doping from about 2006. From that year, there has been awareness of the developments noted above, and of the enhanced capacity of the testing systems to detect a number of the prohibited substances such as human growth hormones and EPO9 that had previously been thought to be undetectable. In addition, the cycling community has been exposed to the Athlete Biological Passport and its capacity to identify anomalies in athletes' blood profiles leading to further targeted investigation of individuals. Moreover, there was the experience of a criminal law response to doping, at least in Italy and France, which has increased the risks of engaging in organised doping.10

1.17 The change in culture has been confirmed by the establishment, in 2007, of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (Movement for Credible Cycling),11 and very recently by the establishment of the Change Cycling Now movement which has brought together former riders and sports anti-doping campaigners with the objective of establishing a reform charter.12 Charter of the Willinga road map for the future direction of competitive cycling' was established on 23 December 2012 in London.13

1.18 The Movement for Credible Cycling has proposed a number of reforms that have been approved by the European Cycling Union including:

securing an agreement by cycling federations not to select for a national team any rider who has been suspended for six months or more during the two years after an initial suspension

introducing an eight-day rest period for a rider following any use of corticosteroid injections, and

calling on the UCI World Tour and Continental teams to establish an internal medical mentoring program for their riders.

1.19 The other organisations that have been reported to have entered into the reform process on an institutional basis since the release of the USADA Decision include the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés and the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels. More significant, however, has been the announcement of an independent review into issues concerning the UCI arising out of the USADA investigation to be conducted by a Commission headed by former England Appeals Court Judge, Sir Philip Otton, assisted by House of Lords Peer and Paralympics champion, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and Australian counsel and arbitrator, Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Malcolm Holmes QC.14

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The current challenge

1.20 Notwithstanding this change of culture, it cannot be said with any degree of certainty that the sport of cycling is, or will remain, drug free or that new substances or methods will not emerge that, for a time, will be undetectable.

1.21 It remains of concern that despite the considerable efforts that the UCI had made in establishing an effective program for the funding and delivery of a testing program, it had not detected the nature and extent of the violations that were disclosed in the USADA investigation.

1.22 It seems that until an intensive and aggressive investigation was undertaken of the kind seen in the USADA investigation, there was a belief that the dopers could remain ahead of the testers and that the use of prohibited substances or methods was necessary for riders to compete on a level playing field. In this respect, it would also seem that while the establishment of a coherent testing system accompanied by use of the Athlete Biological Passport protocol will continue to be indispensable, insufficient attention has been given to the opportunities provided through deploying intelligence-based investigative strategies. What must be rejected is a win at all costs' culture that could put the health and integrity of riders at risk, without any appreciation of the long-term consequences for the sport.

1.23 Although the USADA investigation was focused on the world road circuit, track cycling was not free from suspicion. Subsequent to the announcement of the present Review, Martin Vinnicombe, an Australian silver medallist at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games, disclosed that he had used performance enhancing drugs at one stage of his career.15

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Impact on cycling in Australia

1.24 Of immediate relevance for this Review is the fact that following the release of the USADA Decision, former Australian cyclist Matt White acknowledged, on 13 October 2012, that he had been part of a team where doping formed part of the team's strategy. As a consequence, he advised that he would be voluntarily standing down from his positions with the national men's high performance program with CA and as a Sports Director with GreenEDGE while inquiries into his case were conducted and the CA Board and GreenEDGE made a determination regarding his future with each organisation.16 The admissions of Matt White were followed shortly after by admissions made to the Executive of CA by former Australian cyclist Stephen Hodge, that during a stage in his career as a professional cyclist he had taken performance enhancing drugs. Stephen Hodge then resigned from his position as a Vice President of the CA Board to which he had been appointed in 1999.17

1.25 It was the disclosure of these admissions in the wake of the USADA investigation, and of an earlier report tabled in the Australian Senate of the inquiry by former Judge, the Hon. Robert Anderson, which was commissioned by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and CA into possible doping violations involving members of the Track Sprint Cycling program18 in 2003 at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Del Monte establishment in Adelaide, that led to this Review. Its urgency was increased because of the prominent position occupied by cycling in the Australian sporting environment.

1.26 It is very important for Australian cyclists to have a reputation of being clean, of having a good work ethic, and of being good team members. This particularly enhances the value of their brand and consequently their attractiveness to professional teams. The protection of this reputation is equally important for the sport of cycling as a whole in this country.

1.27 In fact, Australia has been achieving significant sporting successes in cycling, particularly in the Olympic, Commonwealth and Paralympic Games. An increasing number of young and elite professional riders are involved in the UCI World Tour, the Continental Pro Tour and the Continental Tour, and in World Championships and World Cups. In 2010, Cadel Evans won the Tour de France. Australians occupy the top rankings in Bicycle Motocross (BMX), and excel at junior levels across road and track. The significance of these sporting successes is reflected in the fact that CA has received funding from the Australian Government through the ASC and AIS for the 2012–13 year in the sum of $7.36 million, second only to that provided to Swimming Australia ($9.28 million). A table providing details of funding provided to CA through the ASC is included in Chapter 3.

1.28 In this respect, it is understood that some 30–40 Australians are likely to be involved in the UCI World Tour in 2013, either as members of the Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team or of other international teams. In addition, there are a significant number of young Australian cyclists riding in the Asian circuit, and in the local National Road Series. Australia has successfully conducted World Road and Track Championships, and the Tour Down Under conducted in South Australia has become part of the UCI World Tour.

1.29 The importance of these successes cannot be underestimated. They have been accompanied by a substantial increase in public interest in the sport, and by a remarkable growth in cycling in all of its disciplines, both in the recreational and competitive and semi-competitive spheres, as is noted later in this Report. In requesting this Review the Minister has recognised the importance of ensuring that cycling in Australia maintains a high reputation as an ethical, well-governed sport that is free of the taint of doping and other unacceptable practices.19

1.30 It was acknowledged by almost every person to whom I spoke who was engaged in the sport as an athlete, coach, employee or Director of CA, of CA's constituent associations and affiliates, of the AIS, and of the state/territory institutes/academies of sport, that the disclosures mentioned above have seriously damaged the reputation of cycling as a sport and that morale has been adversely affected. This needs to be addressed and measures adopted that can ensure that the practices that were employed, particularly between 1990 and 2006, remain in the past, and that cycling in Australia remains a clean sport. Otherwise there is a risk that its growth will be stunted, that sponsorship will be lost,20 that some professional teams will go out of existence, that athletes with potential will be reluctant to progress to competitive status at the national or elite level, and that the brand of the Australian professional riders engaged in the World and Continental Tours will be damaged.

1.31 For that reason this Review gives consideration not only to the anti-doping regime that is in place in Australia and the extent to which it is supported by CA, but also to those aspects of CA's governance that may impact upon its capacity to ensure that cycling remains a clean, well-managed and appropriately supported sport.

1.32 Necessarily, having regard to the narrow time frame that was available and to the nature of the recommendations that are made, further work will need to be undertaken with the assistance of the ASC and others in carrying forward some of the recommendations, and particularly those of a governance and financial nature.

1.33 I also wish to make it clear that it has not been part of this Review to investigate whether any individual Australian rider has engaged in doping activity. Any such investigation would fall outside the Terms of Reference and, in any event, would properly be entrusted to ASADA.

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Acknowledgements

1.34 In preparing this Review, I have received considerable assistance from the Australian Sports Commission; the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority; members or senior executives of the Olympic, Commonwealth and Paralympic Games committees and of several of the major national sporting organisations; representatives of the state/territory institutes/academies of sport; a large number of athletes, coaches, sports scientists and doctors who are, or have been, involved in the sport of cycling in Australian and overseas; and from Board members, executives and others who are employed by or associated with Cycling Australia, Mountain Bike Australia, Bicycle Motocross Australia or with the state/territory cycling federations and bicycling associations. A full list of those to whom I have spoken or from whom information has been received on my behalf is attached as Appendix B.

1.35 I wish to acknowledge the considerable and invaluable assistance which I have received in preparing this Report, provided by officers from the Office for Sport in the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport; the Australian Sports Commission; and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

1.36 I also acknowledge the assistance that was provided by King & Wood Mallesons as well as Ashurst Australia solicitors in relation to some of the legal issues that arose, concerning the governance of CA and the introduction of a requirement for the provision by certain categories of staff and others of a declaration of any prior involvement in doping activity.

1.37 In addition, I wish to acknowledge the extremely helpful editing of this Report by the staff at The Happy Apostrophe whose contribution ensured that it was finalised in time for release.

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footnotes

1. United States Anti-Doping Agency v Armstrong, USADA Reasoned Decision on Disqualification and Ineligibility, Report on Proceedings under the World Anti-Doping Code and the USADA Protocol, 10 October 2012. http://cyclinginvestigation.usada.org/

2. In the 2003 WADC whereabouts, provisions were made available for implementation and the UCI adopted a system of requiring cyclists to provide whereabouts filings. The 2009 WADC dictated compulsory whereabouts obligations for all anti-doping organisations which are spelt out in WADA International Standard for Testing. http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/World_Anti-Doping_Program/WADP-IS-Testing/WADA_Whereabouts_IntroductoryNote_EN.pdf

3. Even more recently, it was reported that there was a cluster of deaths among cyclists from heart attacks in 2003 and 2004. Although it is difficult to establish a link between the deaths and the use of EPO, the more recent deaths bore some similarities to the cluster of deaths in the late 1980s and early 1990s which coincided with the period around the arrival in cycling of EPO. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2004/feb/16/cycling.cycling1

4. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/428005/Olympic-Games

5. http://www.wada-ama.org/en/about-wada/history/a-brief-history-of-anti-doping/

6. http://www.doping-prevention.sp.tum.de/doping-in-general/fight-against-doping.html

7. http://www.wada-ama.org/en/about-wada/history/a-brief-history-of-anti-doping/

8. http://www.uci.ch/templates/BUILTIN-NOFRAMES/Template1/layout.asp?MenuId=MTY1MTU&LangId=1

9. A test for EPO was introduced for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and was improved in subsequent years.

10. A pivotal event in this respect was the investigation of French police into the Festina team that led to its exclusion from the 1998 Tour de France; equally significant was Operación Puerto that led to the withdrawal of the Liberty Seguros team from the 2006 Tour. More recently, there has been the Padua investigation into allegations of the fixing of the outcome of the 2010 LiègeBastagneLiège classic, involving members of the Astana and Katusha teams. OperaciónPuerto is a Spanish police operation that was initiated in response to allegations in 2004 about systematic doping in a professional cycling team. The investigation led to several team members being questioned and to three cyclists admitting they doped or had evidence of blood doping. The matters raised in the investigation are expected to be heard in court in early 2013.

11. It has been reported that this movement has been joined by a number of professional teams and has the support of the Amaury Sports Organisation, the Tour de France organiser. Cycling Weekly, 28 November 2012.

12. Reuters, 29 November 2012; Cycling Weekly, 28 November 2012.

13. http://www.changecyclingnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Charter-of-the-Willing.pdf

14. UCI press release, 30 November 2012.

15. Interview, ABC 7.30 Report, 19 November 2012. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3636212.htm

16. Matt White's statement on doping, 13 October 2012. http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cycling/matt-whites-statement-on-doping-20121013-27kf4.html?rand=1350133438025

17. Letter from Stephen Hodge to CA dated 19 October 2012.

18. The report of this inquiry and the supplementary reports are collectively referred to as the Anderson Report'. The first-stage report was tabled in the Australian Senate on 29 July 2004 and the second-stage report tabled on 18 November 2004.

19. Media release, 7 November 2012. http://www.katelundy.com.au/2012/11/07/former-judge-appointed-to-head-cycling-review/

20. European investment bank, Rabobank, withdrew 15 million in sponsorship from the top level of the sport after a long association with cycling worldwide.

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