Official statement from WADA on the Vrijman Report
Following analysis of the so-called "Vrijman report" submitted to the
International Cycling Union (UCI) in relation to the August 2005 L’Équipe
article that concluded Lance Armstrong had used EPO during the 1999 Tour de
France, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) issues its official statement
highlighting a number of the unprofessional, inaccurate, unfair and misleading
elements of the report.
As stated on June 2, 2006, WADA is seeking legal
advice regarding its recourses against the investigator and any organization,
including UCI, that may publicly adopt its conclusions.
WADA is effectively, the world watchdog for all matters related to
anti-doping.WADA was formed in 1999 and, pursuant to its mandate delivered by
its governance, 50 percent of whom come from the Sports Movement and 50 percent
from world Governments, it has been responsible for the introduction of the
World Anti-Doping Code which took effect from 1 January 2004. WADA has no other
interest or mandate but to fight against doping in sport and to provide for all
athletes a level playing field. WADA in this particular case is not a concerned
party, such as Lance Armstrong, not a lawyer mandated and paid by UCI, like Mr.
Vrijman, nor is it responsible for the sport of cycling, like UCI. In 1999 EPO
was not detectable in the urine sample of the athletes. A valid test was only
available as of the year 2000.
In 2004 the French Laboratory decided, on its own initiative, to start a
project on stored samples from the 1999 Tour de France in order to evaluate a
number of scientific facts, including the use of EPO prior to the test being in
place and the stability of EPO in urine samples.
When informed about the project WADA expressed its interest in its outcome.
Neither WADA nor the French Laboratory had any possibility of linking any sample
involved in this project with any particular individual and therefore any
sanctioning process was out of question. It was very clear for both entities
that this was a research project. Linking a sample with a name could only be
done by UCI who was in possession of the doping control forms used in the 1999
Tour de France. As far as WADA and the French Laboratory were concerned,
confidentiality of the results was fully guaranteed.
The result of the research was sent to WADA headquarters in Montreal by the
French Laboratory on 22 August and opened by WADA on 25 August. L’Equipe
published an article in its newspaper on 23 August 2005 headlined “The Armstrong
Lie.” The article published six doping control forms pertaining to Mr. Armstrong
and a summary of the finding from the French laboratory in conducting its
research from samples collected during the 1999 Tour de France. The article
suggested that Mr. Armstrong had not been truthful in his many utterances that
he had never taken performance enhancing drugs, as the author was suggesting he
could show through the items exposed during his personal research and discovery,
that on six occasions, during the 1999 Tour, Mr. Armstrong’s samples showed EPO.
The contents of the article need no clarification here, but suffice to say it
led to voices of outrage from various
quarters, including Mr. Armstrong and UCI. WADA had nothing to do with
l’Equipe’s publication and learned about it by reading the paper. It appeared
later, and this fact is not contested now by UCI, that 15 doping control forms
from Mr. Armstrong had been given with his consent and UCI consent to l’Equipe.
Following such publication which linked six samples containing EPO with the name
of Lance Armstrong WADA did nothing else but ask UCI, as the responsible
international sport federation for the sport of cycling, to look carefully into
a - In respect of newspaper articles containing defamation or
alleged defamation of individuals, the person so defamed can exercise the
process provided by law and sue for damages. This is the right of the individual
and the process accorded by most countries, including France. In France, where
the article was published, Mr. Armstrong did not issue proceedings for
defamation against L’Equipe. We are not aware of any proceedings elsewhere
either. There are time limits provided for the initiation of such proceedings,
and in this case they have now expired. In other situations involving newspaper
articles and books, in varying jurisdictions around the world, Mr. Armstrong has
sued and some of these proceedings are still awaiting hearings in courts. One
involving The Sunday Times in England has a hearing shortly.
b - As part of its role, WADA accepts the responsibility for ensuring
that all allegations of breach(es) of anti-doping rules are properly and
professionally investigated. On this occasion, WADA immediately suggested that
the responsible organization, namely the international federation for cycling,
UCI, conduct an appropriate enquiry to determine whether the facts revealed by
the article could lead to any sanction process or to any other steps within
the jurisdiction of that federation.
c - After the exchange of several letters between WADA and UCI, it
became obvious to WADA that UCI was not interested in accepting such
responsibility. Accordingly, on 5 October 2005, WADA determined that it would
accept the responsibility and embarked upon an enquiry by seeking responses to
questions issued by it from each of the interested parties, Mr. Armstrong, UCI,
the French Ministry, and the French Laboratory as well as L’Equipe. Letters were
sent to all on 5 October 2005.
d - After receiving this correspondence from WADA, on 6 October 2005,
UCI announced that it would conduct an “independent” enquiry through the offices
of a lawyer, Emile Vrijman.
e - UCI neglected, in making this announcement, to prepare and agree
to terms of reference for this enquiry and to properly mandate Mr. Vrijman,
pursuant to its rules, to carry out such an investigation. Accordingly, when Mr.
Vrijman wrote to WADA on 6 October 2005, WADA replied, on 13 October 2005,
seeking the terms of reference and seeking his legal mandate to carry out an
f - It was not until 24 November 2005 that WADA had any further
correspondence in relation to this matter. On that day, WADA received a letter
from UCI, not Mr. Vrijman, with the contents being its mandate to Mr. Vrijman
and terms of reference, which seemingly had been issued on 15 November 2005.
WADA replied to this correspondence from UCI on 15 December 2005.
g - Over the next months there was no approach made by Mr. Vrijman to
WADA, nor any approach made by UCI. At the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, in
February 2006, a pre-arranged meeting between the former President of UCI, Hein
Verbruggen, and the President of WADA, Richard Pound, was convened under the
auspices of the IOC President, Jacques Rogge. This meeting was convened as one
of conciliation to ensure that any differences between the two Presidents could
be resolved. At that meeting, Mr. Pound showed Mr. Verbruggen copies of 15
doping control forms relating to samples collected from Armstrong in the 1999
Tour de France. All 15 doping control forms had been released from UCI with the
consent of Mr. Armstrong to the author of the article in L’Equipe.
Mr. Verbruggen accepted these facts. Prior to this revelation, Mr. Verbruggen
had denied publicly on many occasions that any doping control forms had been
released by him, and that perhaps only one had been released by UCI.
Consequently, UCI issued a statement indicating a member of its staff would be
suspended for the releasing of this confidential information to a newspaper
reporter. Dr. Mario Zorzoli was suspended immediately (but later reinstated in
March 2006). Also at this meeting, Mr. Verbruggen advised Mr. Pound that he had
sighted a draft report authored by Mr. Vrijman, in which WADA was severely
criticized and the report would make extremely bad reading for the World
Anti-Doping Agency. In response Mr. Pound advised Mr. Verbruggen that WADA had
not yet been approached by Mr. Vrijman with any requests for information nor for
h - On 10 March 2006, Mr. Vrijman wrote to WADA. Mr. Vrijman wrote
again on 15 March. These letters included a list of questions which Mr. Vrijman
asked WADA to respond to. WADA responded in full to the list of questions.
i - WADA subsequently provided, through UCI, two boxes of materials
which WADA felt would be of interest to Mr. Vrijman.
j - WADA heard no more from Mr. Vrijman. WADA received no request for
any personal interview, nor any follow up to the responses to the questions that
WADA had provided to Mr. Vrijman. WADA was not shown the report in draft form
(although this was accorded to UCI, with at least two drafts being provided to
the federation), nor was it asked to respond to allegations made against WADA
within the report so that its comments would be fully and properly investigated
and recorded. In most jurisdictions around the world, this blatant demonstration
of bias and lack of proper and professional process is seen as a breach of
k - This breach of natural justice is further exacerbated by Mr.
Vrijman’s allegations that WADA refused to participate in the inquiry. As noted
above, WADA responded to all two of Mr. Vrijman’s letters in a complete and
timely manner and offered to provide additional information. WADA cannot be
faulted for the inquirer’s lack of follow up.
l - The report was published and personally announced by Mr.
Vrijman, so that the media received copies prior to it even being delivered to
UCI. WADA learned of this publication through the media.
Substance of report a The process used by the French Laboratory in conducting
its research was not the process used for analyzing samples for the purpose of
Substance of report
a - Mr. Vrijman, at all times, confuses this fundamental difference
and seems to indicate that, in conducting research, the laboratory was required
to carry it out in the same manner as for analysing samples for adverse
analytical findings. This is not the case, and Mr. Vrijman, in directing himself
to the rules relating to samples collected for analysis rather than
understanding the difference for research, has totally misdirected himself in
This very basic error leads to ill-informed and incorrect outcomes. The
laboratory has indicated publicly that it has no doubt whatsoever in the results
of its analysis, and that no sample used for the research project was
contaminated, manipulated or interfered with. There may be appropriately stored
residue still available for DNA and other further analysis.
b - Mr. Vrijman does not inquire at all into why Mr. Armstrong gave
his consent, through his advisers, to UCI to provide 15 doping control forms to
the L’Equipe reporter who was the author of the article published on 23 August.
Mr. Vrijman does not likewise ask or inquire in any depth of UCI management and
executives of why they sought Mr. Armstrong’s consent, and why they authorized
the release of the documents with some redactions in relation to medication.
That failure indicates both a lack of professionalism and a distinct lack of
impartiality in conducting a full review of all the facts.
Indeed, despite Mr. Verbruggen’s concession that all 15 forms came from UCI,
Mr. Vrijman only suggests it may have been more than one. Why did he fail to
review all the files, and interview the responsible personnel? Mr. Vrijman
suggests that the article would have been published by L’Equipe without these
doping control forms, and therefore he did not need to enquire further into why,
how, and when they were released. This is a serious factual and process
deficiency, which cannot now be remedied in any fashion.
c - Mr. Vrijman forms views he calls conclusions, based on speculation
and the threading together of comments made by various individuals to various
journalists. He does not ask any of the individuals, whom he quotes,
whether the quotes were accurate, truthful, or otherwise. He does not establish
facts, as necessarily required by lawyers before reaching conclusions on the
d - As there are no proper factual conclusions, there can be no proper
legal analysis. In this case, however, it is even worse. Mr. Vrijman fails to
cite any rule or regulation, by number nor reference, where he can establish
that his speculations show a breach. Without a breach of rule, there cannot be
allegations of misbehaviour or wrongdoings. There have not been any.
e - Mr. Vrijman suggests that WADA was formed in 2003. As any expert
in antidoping matters knows, WADA was formed in 1999. The Code, for which WADA
is responsible, and its allied Standards, have been in place since1 January
2004. The events at issue which led to the research occurred in 1999. Mr.
Vrijman does not establish the rules and laws, which were fully in place at that
time. He does not, therefore, establish the facts which lead to proper analysis
of those rules, but he reaches conclusions which simply become farfetched and
chooses rules which he hopes might be in place but does not specify nor
determine when or how they are applicable.
f - There was no pressure put on the laboratory by WADA. There was no
leak from WADA. There has been no discussion of matters with the journalist
prior to the publication of the article, and there has been no information given
to the journalist which would lead to the identification of the individual, Mr.
Armstrong. WADA condoned a research project carried out by the laboratory in an
appropriate manner, and sought the results of such research as part of its
mandate to continue the fight against doping in sport.
Mr. Vrijman insists that WADA exercised inappropriate pressure on the French
laboratory. WADA solely advised the laboratory it would be interested in the
findings, and disclosed this in the response WADA gave to Mr. Vrijman’s
questions. There was no other action taken by WADA in relation to the
publication of the results of the research.
g - When the facts are wrong the conclusions that are built on these
facts are wrong. Mr. Vrijman’s report is fallacious in many aspects and
misleading. WADA is presently looking at all its available legal recourses in
respect of the report .
h - UCI now asks questions publicly of WADA. Whilst surmising that UCI
cannot be happy with the conduct of its investigator, WADA has no difficulty in
answering the questions, and making the answers public. However, when the
process is so flawed as it is to date, there can no longer be professional
confidence in the author. Therefore, providing further answers to more
questions, surprisingly not asked during the inquiry leading to the report, does
not remedy a flawed and partial document.