SYDNEY (AFP) –
Australian Olympic chief John Coates Tuesday renewed his calls for the nation’s anti-doping body to have to right to compel witnesses to give evidence as it probes doping in cycling.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) said Monday it will launch an investigation after former Olympic cyclist Matt White admitted involvement in the Lance Armstrong doping conspiracy.
In a letter to Sport Minister Kate Lundy sent Tuesday, Coates urged the government to strengthen ASADA’s powers.
“I suggest that the government should again consider strengthening ASADA’s powers to investigate allegations of doping practices by including the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence and to produce documents relevant to such investigations,” he wrote.
Coates, who is president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), backed the creation of ASADA in 2005 but has argued the government has failed to give the body appropriate investigative powers.
“The AOC is committed to opposing and, if possible, eliminating, the scourge of cheating in sport through the use of drugs and prohibited methods,” he said in a 2006 government submission.
“AOC experience is that without the power to compel the giving of oral and documentary evidence, many allegations of ADRV’s (anti-doping rule violations) cannot be properly investigated and prosecuted.”
As the scandal surrounding Armstrong widened at the weekend, White said he had been part of a strategy of doping when he rode on the American’s US Postal Service cycling team from 2001 to 2003.
ASADA said that in 2010 it became aware of allegations of doping made against White by American cyclist Floyd Landis but had been unable to pursue those until now due to a US federal investigation and the subsequent United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) probe.
It said Monday it would be “seeking further information from USADA and Cycling Australia as the relevant national sporting organisation”.
“This may take some time, but ASADA has a duty to be both thorough and accurate in its investigation,” it said.
White has announced he will step down from his job as sports director of the emerging Australian professional team Orica-GreenEDGE and his role in Cycling Australia’s men’s road racing programme.
Armstrong, who denies taking banned substances, has been stripped of his seven Tour de France victories and banned from cycling for life after a long investigation by USADA.
USADA has accused him of being at the heart of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme” ever seen in sport.