Blazin' Saddles

Why Lance Armstrong could get a lucky let-off after all

Lance Armstrong

Many might believe that Lance Armstrong does not deserve any luck whatsoever, but he could yet be afforded incredible leniency, it seems.

There will be a possible reduction in sanctions for Armstrong, but that is strictly if he is particularly cooperative with the sport's governing body.

That is, if he testifies to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, which was set up by UCI President Brian Cookson.

The commission was created to look into the history of doping within the sport, including allegations against the governing body itself regarding letting Armstrong off the hook over past positive drugs tests.

David Marty is the chairman of the commission, which made the terms of reference for its investigation public this week. He said it had the power to issue sanctions against doping offenders.

Marty also said that the commission could ensure that those who admit doping within the year "will benefit from a considerable reduction in sanctions".

Perhaps most startlingly, he added: "We can go as far as issuing a zero ban, but in this case we would have to validate this with the UCI and Wada."

Brian Cookson

The commission will also have "considerable flexibility in moderating sanctions depending on [a person's] willingness to talk and the interest of the information they give," according to Marty.

What is, perhaps, critical for Armstrong more so than other cyclists with similar issues to their name is that there is another power for a reduction in sanctions for individuals "who admit a violation [of anti-doping rules] and are already the object of a sanction".

So Armstrong has every opportunity to let himself off the hook, but will he be even remotely interested in meeting the relevant parties and cooperating as he has previously suggested he would be?

"It is a window of opportunity for everyone to come forward and tell the truth under certain conditions," said Cookson.

"That will only apply in the period that the commission operates."

It seems that the clouds remain over the sport in regard to doping, but at least a process is under way that seeks to bring further clarity and transparency to a part of history that many would rather forget.