Cycling body opens talks with WADA

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- 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.

The UCI was criticized for not doing enough to catch Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting to doping. His admission followed an investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

New UCI President Brian Cookson, who defeated incumbent Pat McQuaid in an election two weeks ago, said the governing body has begun ''establishing a high-level dialogue with WADA'' on plans for the investigation. Cookson added that his group has been in touch with USADA, other national anti-doping organizations and the French Sports Ministry.

Cookson also said 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.

UCI director general Christophe Hubschmid and lawyer Philippe Verbiest, both deeply involved in McQuaid's administration, have left the organization, with Antonio Rigozzi now assisting in legal matters, Cookson said.

''These early days are very important for the UCI,'' Cookson said from Beijing, where he is attending the Tour of Beijing. He said he wants to ''re-establish our international federation's reputation and make it the best and most respected in the world. I believe that we have made a good start.''

Cookson said most of the new presidents of the UCI commissions have been appointed, the UCI has revoked the age limit of 28 for UCI women's teams and a new women's cycling commission will be formed to promote the growth of women's elite racing.

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

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