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WADA: Independent cycling investigation imminent

AP - Sports

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Cycling is weeks away from setting up an independent commission to investigate the sport's drug-stained past, World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey said Tuesday.

On the opening day of the World Conference on Doping in Sport, Fahey said he was confident the commission was imminent after correspondence with the UCI's new leadership under recently elected president Brian Cookson.

But Fahey said it would take something ''close to a miracle'' for disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year, to have his case re-opened and his ban reduced for cooperating with the commission.

''As far as I'm concerned, it's done and dusted,'' Fahey said. ''Armstrong did what he did. We all know what that is. He did not cooperate. He did not defend the charges that USADA put out there last year, and he was dealt with in a proper process.''

Fahey said the case against Armstrong and his eventual life ban was ''irrefutable.''

The future of cycling is a major topic at WADA's four-day summit in South Africa this week, which will be attended by Cookson. Fahey said they will meet Wednesday to resume a conversation that started almost as soon as Cookson was elected in September on promises to clean up the sport and confront its doping history.

''The goodwill appears to be there,'' Fahey said. ''The utmost cooperation will be given by us. Hopefully, we'll make a further step down that path of some significance in our discussions tomorrow.''

While it's still unclear how the commission will be set up and what parameters it will be given to work within, Armstrong's intention to seek a reduction in his ban in return for cooperating and telling what he knows has been a subject of major speculation in recent weeks.

The American rider has intimated in interviews that he would be willing to cooperate with an independent commission, and he has argued he should have been offered the same deal as other cyclists who also doped but received lesser bans.

Fahey questioned the value of Armstrong's information now, over a year after USADA's investigation against him was completed, and also said there still hadn't been any commitment from Armstrong to help USADA's ongoing probe into doping in cycling.

''If he wants to have his sanctions looked at, that's a matter for USADA, and there'd have to be extraordinarily powerful reasons as I would see it,'' Fahey said. ''And to my knowledge, there's been no move to say, 'I want to give substantial assistance and if I talk to you, you might open the case again and reconsider the life ban.' I see it done and dusted.''

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