IOC calls for independent Armstrong-Pound inquiry

Updated: June 21, 2006, 4:11 PM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The IOC wants an independent inquiry to resolve the dispute between Lance Armstrong and World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound.

The International Olympic Committee executive board on Wednesday reviewed a letter from Armstrong calling for Pound's ouster over his handling of doping allegations against the seven-time Tour de France winner.

"The IOC is not a direct party in the issue but would like to facilitate a resolution," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "We are encouraging an independent inquiry to be established in agreement with all parties."

Armstrong sent an eight-page letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge and the executive board on June 9 accusing Pound -- a senior IOC member from Canada -- of "reprehensible and indefensible" conduct and asking that he be forced to step down as chairman of the doping agency.

Armstrong acted after a Dutch investigator cleared him of allegations -- published in the French sports daily L'Equipe last year -- that he used banned substances during his first tour win in 1999.

Pound was sharply critical of the Dutch report, saying it was prepared by a lawyer with no expertise in doping control. WADA said in a statement Monday that Emile Vrijman's report showed a "lack of professionalism" and a "distinct lack of impartiality in conducting a full review of all the facts."

Pound said he was unfazed by Armstrong's letter.

"The real story is he should be complaining to what happened in L'Equipe ... not picking on me," he said.

The International Cycling Union, or UCI, appointed Vrijman to investigate the handling of urine samples from the 1999 Tour by a French anti-doping lab. His report released on May 31 exonerated Armstrong "completely" of any doping infractions.

L'Equipe reported in August that six of Armstrong's samples tested positive for EPO. There was no reliable test for EPO in 1999, but urine samples were preserved and analyzed later when improved testing technology was developed.

Davies said the IOC was hoping for mediation between Armstrong and the UCI on one side, and Pound and WADA on the other. She said the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport could be a possible venue.

"The feeling is the discussion between the parties is not making any progress," Davies said. "There seems to be a block. The IOC could help by facilitating them to find a common understanding."

Also Wednesday, the IOC board put off a decision on any changes to the sports schedule of the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- including a request from NBC to move the swimming finals from the night to morning hours to accommodate prime-time coverage in the United States.

The request has prompted an outcry from swimmers, coaches and officials in Australia.

Davies said Rogge would consult with sports federations and broadcasters and make a final decision in August. The board authorized Rogge to make the ruling himself.

Davies said schedule changes for other sports had been proposed, but declined to specify them.

On Thursday, the IOC will trim the field for the 2014 Winter Olympics from seven to a list of three or four finalists. Expected to make the cut are Salzburg, Austria; Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Sochi, Russia. The IOC will pick the host city in July 2007.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press