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UCI opens talks with WADA

The International Cycling Union has opened discussions with the World Anti-Doping Agency to set up an independent investigation into the cycling body’s handling of past drug scandals.

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The UCI was criticised for not doing enough to catch American rider Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting to doping. His admission followed an investigation by the US Ant-Doping Agency.

New UCI President Brian Cookson, who defeated incumbent Pat McQuaid in an election two weeks ago, based his campaign on restoring trust in the UCI and rebuilding the organisation’s fractious relationship with anti-doping bodies.

“We have started the work of establishing a high level dialogue with WADA to plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI’s past,” Cookson said in a statement Friday.

“We have also been making contact with other key stakeholders in this area, including USADA, other national anti-doping organisations and the French Sports Ministry.”

The UCI had been accused of being complicit in Armstrong’s doping.

Cookson also said the UCI has decided to drop a lawsuit filed against Irish journalist Paul Kimmage, a former Tour rider who spent many years reporting on Armstrong and doping issues.

UCI director general Christophe Hubschmid and lawyer Philippe Verbiest, who had both been heavily involved in McQuaid’s administration, have left the organisation, with Antonio Rigozzi now assisting in legal matters, Cookson said.

Cookson also plans to meet new IOC President Thomas Bach and Carlos Nuzman, head of the organising committee for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the coming weeks.