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UCI independent commission announces public hearing

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - The International Cycling Union's (UCI) independent commission inquiry into allegations made against the world governing body during the Lance Armstrong scandal will hold a public hearing into setting up a "truth and reconciliation" process.

The independent commission said on Wednesday that several parties had told it that such a process, with a full or partial amnesty being offered to those involved in professional cycling who confessed to past involvement in doping, should be included in the inquiry.

After initial reluctance, the UCI said it would inform the commission it was willing to provide the necessary assurances to those coming forward with relevant evidence as long as the World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that would not conflict with its code or, if needed, amended the code.

"In particular, the role of the Commission is not to act as a doping confessional but rather to investigate the assertions made in USADA's Reasoned Decision of alleged complicity in the alleged doping of Lance Armstrong and the USPS (United States Postal Service) team," UCI said in a statement.

The UCI added it would be happy to take part in a truth and reconciliation process covering "all sports, or at least endurance sports, if appropriate changes were made to the WADA Code".

On Tuesday, the UCI's independent inquiry was dealt a blow when WADA said it would not participate because it had a number of serious concerns regarding the commission's terms of reference and its ability to carry out its role without undue influence.

WADA said the scope of the inquiry was too focused on Armstrong and was unhappy the commission were not offering immunity for witnesses who come forward.

"The Commission is of the view that such a process would be in the interests not only of the Inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole." it said adding that its solicitors had written to the UCI's urging them to reconsider the process.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life after the United States Doping Agency (USADA) concluded the now-retired rider had been involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

The scandal is back in the spotlight this week with Armstrong reportedly ready to admit in a television interview that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his racing career.

(Additional reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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