Cycling's doping past will not be uncovered for another 12 months despite the International Cycling Union pledging to release withheld documents relevant to the inquiry and revealing an agreement 'in principal' had been reached with the World and United States Anti-Doping Agencies which could grant rider amnesty under the truth and reconciliation process during the independent commission's inquiry.
The UCI's Independent Commission's procedural hearing has been adjourned until 31 January to allow time for crucial documents to be assessed and a genuine agreement over a rider amnesty between UCI, WADA and USADA to be reached.
WADA and USADA have both withdrawn from the commission's inquiry after questioning their terms of reference and due to the UCI's rejection of the amnesty.
Guy Morpuss QC, acting for the independent commission, said due to the lack of a truth and reconciliation process, prospective witnesses were unwilling to give evidence to the inquiry rendering the investigation meaningless.
"Most were unwilling to provide any detail of the evidence they might give, but repeatedly we were told that witnesses could provide evidence but that they wouldn't do so unless it was part of some wider truth and reconciliation and that would need to include some sort of amnesty relating to past team members in relation to doping," Morpuss said.
"Without this amnesty the evidence that this commission receives will be limited."
But UCI, who claim alterations of the WADA code would have to be made should an amnesty be introduced, have since made a U-turn on their policy on the truth and reconciliation process, which would assure riders of protection should they submit evidence.
Acting on behalf of UCI, Ian Mill QC says a full report will be sent to WADA next week, while initial indications from the world anti-doping governing body are that changes to their code, which hinge on the UCI agreeing to a truth and reconciliation process have been 'agreed in principal'.
"Important stakeholders, including WADA and USADA have called for a broader truth and reconciliation process than is envisaged by the terms of reference," Mill said.
"We have continued to listen and engage with those participants and UCI have in consequence of that accepted that a truth and reconciliation process is one that they wish to engage with.
"We have shared with Wada what we have planned to say today and while they have no detailed response to give at this time they have instructed us to say that they agree in principal to the establishment of such a commission."
UCI had originally set a fortnight in April for the public hearing with a June deadline for their final report, but due to the truth and reconciliation process having yet to be agreed, the UCI want the commission's investigations suspended until negotiations have concluded.
While the commission, made up of Chairman Sir Philip Otton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Malcolm Holmes QC, have rejected the suggestion until next Thursday's second hearing, Mill was keen to stress the process, which is coming at great cost to the UCI, to which a final report could be published would take 12 months.
"It is opulently clear that the proposed hearing in April is not going to be capable of going ahead and that a report of any view is not going to be ready for Jun," Mill said.
"What we are proposing is that we should come back in March, in order to tell you where we are but however that is obviously not set in stone.
"Given that the hearing in April is not going ahead, given that the resources of the UCI are finite we do not want to continue to engage in a process of evidence for an inquiry hearing which may ultimately end up not taking place.
"We are actively going to make that process happen, what that commission ultimately has to decide is nothing something we can help you on. If people are not going to be given the confidence, it's clearly not going to be before the middle of the year that is the sort of time frame that is going to be realistic.
"I think certainly a timetable which would envisage a 12-month period would certainly been needed."
The independent commission were unable to update their current position due to a delay in UCI handing over vital documents, with the cycling governing body claiming they are irrelevant without a truth and reconciliation process in place.
Grey-Thompson said: "I find it very hard to give any position over where the commission is without the documents."
"The commission has its rebate and obviously we will give you the documents because that is our obligation and we've set you up," Mill replied. "The reasons for not giving you the documents have nothing to do with their contents."
Despite being originally setup to investigate the allegations towards UCI found in USADA's 1,000 page report which implicated Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service team in the most sophisticated doping programme in sporting history, the independent commission have pledged to broaden their investigations into the doping culture in cycling.
Independent commission chairman Otton accused UCI of using the truth and reconciliation process as a smokescreen for the original allegations of corruption in USADA's reasoned report.
"The investigation of the USADA criticism in the reasoned report is an entirely different issue altogether and that's what the commission set up by the UCI," Otton said.
"I get the sense that because we suggested that a truth and reconciliation process was in the best interests of cycling you saw that as an excuse and kick into the long grass the allegations contained in the USADA report."
Mill denied the accusations on behalf of the UCI.
With discussions on-going, the preliminary hearing of the independent commission has been adjourned until next week, with the 16 lever arch files containing the aforementioned documents being read-over in the intermitting period by the commission members while an agreement over a rider amnesty will seen to be approved by WADA, USADA and UCI.
"The commission is persuaded to allow an opportunity for discussions to continue and for the party's to reach a viable agreement and on sufficient detail of the amnesty," Otton added. "The commission expects to be informed by the UCI of the progress of discussion."
UCI remain concerned over future costs of the commission and the truth and reconciliation process, but are seemingly committed to a full and frank inquiry including safeguards for riders, which could take as long as a year. President Pat McQuaid runs for re-election in September while the WADA code is set for review later in 2013.
"Very expensive, I can't say anything more than that. For the resource of the UCI it's quite a lot," McQuaid said.
"I do think that the governance of the UCI will come up in the truth of reconciliation," he added. "Bearing in mind that WADA have promoted this, we hope the costs are shared and we look forward to engaging with them.
"This is the first time any sporting organisation has done anything like this, but the most important thing for our sport is that this process goes ahead at its own pace. My only hope it doesn't affect the riders of today.
"It would be important if [Lance Armstrong] came that he discloses a lot more than he did on television and that the commission that hears him are happy with what they hear from him."
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Jaden Smith Clarifies Emancipation Reports with Dad Will Smith on TV Show ‘Ellen’ [PHOTOS AND VIDEO]
- Robsten Romance: New Thorns on the Rosy Love Between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart [SLIDESHOW]
- 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Casting: Chace Crawford as Christian Grey & Rachel McAdams as Anastasia Steele [PHOTOS]
- 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Casting: James Franco as Christian Grey & Emilia Clarke as Anastasia Steele [PHOTOS]