The CIRC report

The CIRC report

posted in: Blog | 2

“to conduct a wide ranging independent investigation into the causes of the pattern of doping that developed within cycling and allegations which implicate the UCI and other governing bodies and officials over ineffective investigation of such doping practices.”

This was the mandate of the CRIC. Despite being spelled out it was largely ignored by fans and media who inflated the scope of the CRIC, hoping for lots of juicy gossip. Those hoping for the mass outing of riders, doctors, and staff will be disappoint. You will find little of that here.

Here is the public list of participants. Most would be no surprise……Except for Riis and Vino, both of whom talked to the CIRC.

The report is long, 224 pages, and densely worded. There will be much analysis in the coming days by commentators much more skilled then I. My goal is simple, present the key facts and findings with limited commentary so the public can get the details without having to read 224 pages. 60 pages of the report are dedicated to the history of doping, and anti doping. As most of this is publicly available information that has been published many times so I did not include it here.

Preferential treatment for Armstrong

“CIRC finds that certain former presidents initiated a special relationship with Lance Armstrong and failed to establish a more distant relationship, which would have been more prudent given his status as an athlete and because of the suspicions of doping that persisted.”

“Several sources, notably UCI staff and former UCI staff, reported that the UCI leadership had on several occasions “defended” or “protected” Lance Armstrong or taken favorable positions towards Lance Armstrong indicating that he had received preferential treatment. Among the explanations given to the CIRC was the UCI’s promotion of a “celebrity rider” after the Festina scandal.”

“The CIRC has also gathered information demonstrating that Lance Armstrong sought the assistance of UCI on several occasions and made use of his privileged relationship with the UCI leadership to his own advantage.”

“the UCI chose business to be the priority for the sport. The primary concern was the commercial and international development of cycling and the arrival of Lance Armstrong was an extraordinary opportunity, a real success story, and the UCI closed its eyes to the rest.”

  • UCI exempted Lance Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping, even as late as 2012 when UCI threatened to challenge USADA’s jurisdiction.
  • Requesting and accepting donations from Lance Armstrong, given the suspicions, left UCI open to criticism.
  • Disciplinary proceedings should have been opened by UCI against  Lance Armstrong in 1999 when he tested positive for Cortisone
  • UCI purposely limited the scope of the Vrijman report mandate to procedural issues contrary to what they told stakeholders and the public
  • UCI, together with the Armstrong team, became directly and heavily involved in the drafting of the Vrijman report. The main goal was to ensure that the report reflected UCI’s and Lance Armstrong’s personal conclusions.
  • The significant participation of UCI and Armstrong’s team in the report was never publicly acknowledged.
  • In the CIRC’s view, based on an assessment of documents in its possession, UCI had no intention of pursuing an independent report;
  • UCI’s approach prioritized the fight against WADA and the protection of its star athlete.
  • The CIRC says they found no evidence to link the donation by Lance Armstrong and the Vrijman report, and the timing indicates that the two were not related.
  • Allowing Armstrong to compete in the Tour Down Under in 2009, despite the fact that he had not been in the UCI testing pool for the prescribed period of time, was against the UCI rules
  • The CIRC has not found any evidence to show that, following Lance Armstrong’s two suspect EPO tests of 2001 and 2002, the UCI established a policy of targeting Lance Armstrong in order to determine whether he was in fact doping. On the contrary, the UCI asked the director of the Lausanne laboratory to explain the EPO test method at a meeting, a request which was not made for other athletes.
  • Lance Armstrong’s lawyers contacted UCI on two occasions to obtain statements and/or affidavits in support of Lance Armstrong in two legal cases
  • UCI initially had no intention of contesting USADA’s jurisdiction over the Lance Armstrong case, as clearly expressed in an analysis of the situation by Philippe Verbiest

Favorable treatment of Alberto Contador


  • The CIRC has found no evidence to show that UCI tried to hide the positive test of Alberto Contador.
  • On 24 August 2010, UCI telephoned Alberto Contador to set up a meeting with him in Puertollano (Spain) on 26 August to discuss an AAF.
  • Three UCI staff members met with Alberto Contador and a doctor and informed him of the ADRV.
  • Contaminated meat eaten the night prior to the rest day was put forward as a possible source of contamination that could explain the very low level of clenbuterol found on 21 July
  • The UCI legal department was not in favor of opening a procedure on the basis of the clenbuterol finding only, given their concern about the high possibility of failure
  • WADA lawyers on the other hand maintained a procedure had to be opened
  • WADA had been informed about the positive test and was involved in the discussion regarding the results management of the case.

Lon Schattenberg

CK_Schattenberg.jpgDr. Schattenberg was the UCI’s Head of Anti Doping Committee (ADC). He was invited to was invited to speak with CIRC but declined to do so.

  • As a doctor he was more interested in protecting the health of a rider then anti-doping
  • UCI staff reported that in Lon Schattenberg’s opinion trying to catch the cheaters amounted to a witch hunt
  • Found it impossible to believe that a cancer survivor could resort to doping,
  • Clashed when Anne Gripper
  • “Secret meetings” were regularly held between Lon Schattenberg, Philippe Verbiest  and Verbruggen. These meetings continued after McQuaid named President and Gripper named as head of the ADU
  • Schattenberg advised the teams of newly implemented detection methods and would also inform the teams of the detection window
  • Warning riders had an impact on the efficacy of the tests. In 2008 the tests at the Tour were done without the involvement of UCI and for the first time a new testing method was used without prior notice to the riders, which resulted in many additional AAFs.
  • UCI sometimes provided intelligence obtained through the analyses of the samples to riders. Instead of using this information to perform target testing on suspicious athletes, the athlete would be warned, and sometimes in case of important riders even invited to the UCI headquarters to discuss the abnormal values.


Pat McQuaid

  • In 2005, Pat McQuaid, unlike other candidates, received considerable benefits and other support from UCI and Hein Verbruggen.
  • Described by the majority of the current and former UCI staff as a rather “weak leader”.
  • Frequently interfered at the operational level of Anti Doping
  • He did not manage to dissociate himself from Hein Verbruggen. Hein Verbruggen remained Vice-President of UCI, kept an office at UCI’s headquarters and was physically present a lot of the time
  • Emails directed at Pat McQuaid would be forwarded to Hein Verbruggen and answered by the latter or answered by Pat McQuaid, however, drafted by Hein Verbruggen
  • Pat McQuaid never succeeded in establishing a convincing governance style of his own
  • No direct evidence of an agreement between Pat McQuaid and Lance Armstrong on his participation in the 2009 TdU but Pat McQuaid made a sudden U-Turn and ignore advice from UCI staff not to make an exception,
  • There was a temporal link between this decision the decision of Lance Armstrong to participate in the Tour of Ireland, an event run by people known to Pat McQuaid.
  • Pat McQuaid sent e-mails to contacts attaching confidential UCI documents, such as the contract between a leading rider with his team
  • Pat McQuaid had a consultancy post with the organization of the World Championships in Verona while he was President of the UCI Road Commission


maxresdefaultMario Zorzoli

In the recent lifetime ban of Dr. Leinders there was the following

“Mr. Rasmussen testified that in either 2004 or 2005, Dr. Leinders told him that Mario Zorzoli recommended that Leinders give Rabobank riders DHEA because “all the other teams are doing it as well.””

 The CIRC’s response to this accusation is not what would be expected. They were unable to confirm the allegation and called the including of it in a report

“unacceptable and a severe breach of proper procedures that such serious accusations, based on double hearsay, were made public without the individual first being consulted and the allegations being fully investigated. This is all the more disturbing since this accusation was completely immaterial to the case investigated”

Ouch! The CIRC also notes that several interviewees expressed their high regard for Mario Zorzoli, both for his scientific expertise and his honesty.


58221Hein Verbruggen

The CIRC details how the UCI became a secretive, combative, dysfunctional organization that looked the other way at doping and protected Lance Armstrong. The person who bred this culture was Verbruggen. Even when his name is not mentioned in te report it is clear he is pulling the strings. He comes across as an erratic, angry, dictator with everyone in the sport as his supplicant……including Armstrong and his lawyers who engage with Hein in an almost timid manner. Scared to ruffle the feathers of the boss.


Doping in Cycling today

  • A common response to the Commission, when asked about teams, was that probably 3 or 4 were clean, 3 or 4 were doping, and the rest were a “don’t know”
  • A number of top riders, and others in the sport, discussed other rider’s top performances, or changes in appearance due to dramatic weight loss, and were unable to explain how they were achieved.
  • The desire to lose weight might also be leading to an increase in eating disorders amongst riders
  • One rider was told by his doping doctor to only conduct transfusions of a maximum of 150—200 ml blood, whereas the size of the blood bags previously used by USPS/Discovery Channel were 500 ml.
  • Despite improvements to the science underlying the ABP, it is still possible for riders to micro-dose using EPO without getting caught.
  • Riders are confident that they can take a micro-dose of EPO in the evening because it will not show up by the time the doping control officers (“DCO” or “DCOs”) could arrive to test at 6am.
  • Several interviewees mentioned that AICAR has become popular in the peloton.
  • Corticoids are widely used today both to reduce pain and therefore improve endurance capability and to achieve weight loss to improve power/weight ratio
  • A doctor stated that some quite recent big wins on the UCI WorldTour were as a result, in part, of some members of the team all using corticoids to get their weight down to support the individual who won (who also used the same weight-loss technique). It was reported that this had been a planned approach by that group’s management.
  • Riders expressed concern about the way in which TUEs are used for corticoids and insulin in particular
  • A former rider stated that taking insulin before meals helped to enhance recovery
  • In one rider’s opinion, 90% of TUEs were used for performance-enhancing purposes.
  • increase in the availability of “designer” steroids, which can be found on the internet and often originate from China.
  • One rider informed the Commission that he has been provided with a “new artificial” form of Testosterone.
  • The Commission was told well-known “doping doctors” are still operating in the sport today using intermediaries and in other
    difficult to establish where, geographically, riders obtain PEDs today.
  • Programs are no longer organised systematically by teams. Programmes today are often individually organised, clandestine programmes..

Sponsorship and financial instability of the sport

The Commission was frequently told that cycling has always been too dependent on income from sponsorship. This has had an effect at two levels: firstly, it put pressure on teams to encourage doping to ensure that the team obtained results to keep the sponsor happy, and, secondly, in some cases the short-term nature of a sponsorship deal might result in short-term contracts for riders (even some elite road riders only had short term contracts) which put them under a separate pressure to dope.

  • The CIRC spoke to a number of sponsors in the sport
  • one former rider commented that sponsors wanted to win, but did not want to know about doping.
  • Another rider described that on one of the teams he rode with, he did not think the sponsor knew much.
  • Another rider stated that the sponsor would buy the riders’ plane tickets to visit a known doping doctor in Spain.
  • A former directeur sportif stated that sponsors were never included in discussions about doping and were left completely outside
  • The Commission was told that sometimes riders would agree to lose stages to another rider whose sponsor might have been considering withdrawing from cycling.
  • One sponsor explained that it took a rider with a potentially suspicious ABP out of competition temporarily to conduct tests
  • a team fired a rider who they strongly suspected of doping, despite the potential legal repercussions for the team.
  • high net worth individuals in owning a team, or state sponsorship/ownership, can be a complicating factor
  • The state authorities of Kazakhstan intervened directly in the everyday affairs of teams and riders.

UCI financial mismanagement

  • Extensive use of cash, in particular for the reimbursement of expenses for meetings
  • The first independent commission spent over CHF 2 million in under 2 months.
  • The financing of this operation was initiated by McQuaid, without the involvement of the Management Committee.

Conflicts of interest

  • Pat McQuaid sent e-mails to contacts attaching confidential UCI documents, such as the contract between a leading rider with his team
  • Pat McQuaid had a consultancy post with the organization of the World Championships in Verona while he was President of the UCI Road Commission.
  • Igor Makarov is a member of the UCI Management Committee and at the same time is the owner of a professional cycling team, President of the Russian National Cycling Federation and a sponsor of three of the five UCI Continental Confederations (CAC) (UEC) (COPACI).
  • These three Confederations account for 30 voting delegates in the presidential election
  • Makarov’s sponsorship of the CAC and the renewal of the sponsorship of the UEC were put in place at the same time as the 2013 presidential election.
  • Makarov refused to meet with the CIRC, sent representatives instead


“The recommendations are based on the CIRC’s firmly-held belief that doping should not be legalized since the anti-doping framework protects the very essence of sport.”


  • There is a need for greater investigative tools and information sharing between the governments and the sports movement.
  • CIRC urges other governments to have these tools in place and work towards closer cooperation with sports bodies on criminal matters in anti-doping.
  • UCI should adopt the Swiss standards for the criminal liability of a private corruption
  • doctors who are found guilty of an ADRV should be investigated to determine whether they are fit to continue their general medical practice.
  • Often doctors suspended from acting as sports doctors, but remain free to practice in general medicine. This needs to be addressed.
  • Anti-doping bodies should be obligated to inform the doctor’s professional regulatory body that he has been sanctioned for a sport violation so the regulatory body may open an investigation against the doctor.
  • CIRC recommends to amend the WADA Code to provide for commissions as a tool to investigate doping scandals or monitoring compliance with the WADA Code.
  • Any such commission installed by WADA or operating with its consent should have the cooperation of all signatories under the Code, including sharing information with the investigating commission.
  • CIRC recommends that WADA studies the possibility of fully independent anti-doping bodies, including results management
  • Currently the only possible sanction for an international Federation is that it may be expelled from the Olympic Movement. The CIRC recommend the WADA Code should be amended to include a range of measures and sanctions for non-compliant federations.
  • CIRC has observed that “public shaming” is frequently used to put pressure on stakeholders. Such conduct should not be employed.
  • Stakeholders should be educated as to their obligation to cooperate


  • CIRC recommends a study of doping in different countries, teams, levels (including amateur) and disciplines, this would enable UCI to define better how to deploy resources
  • CADF should move to a qualitative rather than quantitative testing plan
  • Testing should be unpredictable at all times. Examples include the testing window, ADAMS modifications, re-testing and sample collection
  • UCI should set up an independent, confidential, whistleblower desk,
  • UCI must expand focus to more nonanalytical means of establishing ADRVs
  • Sanctioned athletes should be proactively approached to provide “substantial assistance”
  • Laboratory confidentially needs to be enhanced. Each lab has its strengths and weakness. They need to be more standardized
  • ABP cases need to be processed more rapidly
  • More scientific research into the ABP needs to be carried out, including the effects of altitude and dehydration.
  • Research projects be enhanced in order to bring funded projects to fruition earlier.
  • Work closer with the pharmaceutical industry to develop better ways to test for new drugs


  • Election process needs to be made more transparent, democratic, representative and straightforward
  • Better Financial control and accountability
  • Ethics Commission revamped to ensure it is independent
  • Management Committee members should take a more active role and be accountable. Committee meetings should be recorded in the minutes.
  • UCI should facilitate the creation of a strong riders’ union.
  • Explore how to combat other forms of cheating (Technical, Race fixing)
  • Use sanctioned riders as an educational tool.
  • Article of the UCI Cycling Regulations (Former dopers in the sport) may need to be modified. (This is vague)
  • TUE’s need to be understood better (Vague)
  • Explore possibility of centralized pharmacy for the whole peloton for certain stage races
  • Equal testing of various team levels
  • Address the lack of financial stability for teams and riders. Instability fosters win at all costs environment

Other points

  • One medical expert told the CIRC of wide use of antidepressants in the peloton.
  • It was only in the late 2000’s that UCI started to move away from a policy of containment and protecting the sport to seek instead to tackle the problem.
  • The Commission decided that in order to fully appreciate the problems of doping in cycling, it was necessary to go back to cycling’s earlier days. Outside of the original scope
  • An amateur rider who had access to a pharmacy claimed he provided substances for professional riders from four pro teams as well as Dr. Ferrari
  • team organised doping is more likely still to take place at lower levels of competition, where anti-doping efforts are less concentrated.
  • There is detail of a non-World Tour team having a doping program
  • Agents are a source of doping products and introductions to doctors
  • Riders deliberately schedule high altitude training camps and use oxygen tents in order to explain a potential jump in their values
  • Some professional riders explained that they no longer ride in the Gran Fondos because they were so competitive due to the number of riders doping

2 Responses

  1. Zero-carbon Fred

    Thanks for the helpful precis, RR. Seems like a goodish start, with lots more to do….but Verbruggen is still at large. I was ridiculously touched by the bit about riders losing races to teams whose sponsors are thinking of withdrawing!

  2. […] The CIRC report (The Race Radio) Hét dopingrapport der dopingrapporten, je kunt er niet omheen in een rubriek over longreads. The Race Radio dient het op in hapklare brokken, de rauwe feiten op een rij. […]

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