By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Cycling's world body cast doubt on the role of its independent commission inquiry into the Lance Armstrong scandal on Friday by favoring a broader probe with anti-doping agency WADA into drugs use in the sport.
International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid told reporters, after a procedural hearing of the independent commission was adjourned until next week, that a process with WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, now appeared to be the best way forward.
"We have decided that the 'truth and reconciliation' process is the best way that we can examine the culture of doping in cycling in the past, and can clear the air so that cycling can move forward," he said.
"The UCI welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with WADA on this. I am due to speak to the president of WADA over the weekend."
Speaking at the offices of the Law Society in London, McQuaid made clear that the UCI could not afford two separate inquiries.
The three-member independent commission set up last year to look into allegations against the world body complained on Friday that they had received no documents from the UCI, and had met resistance from athletes and stakeholders.
The UCI Commission has asked for its own truth and reconciliation process to provide a full or partial amnesty for those testifying but has hit obstacles.
WADA has said it would not cooperate with the independent commission because of concerns about its terms of reference and ability to carry out its role without undue influence.
McQuaid said there were questions to be resolved about how an amnesty might work but the solution had to come through WADA.
"We have to sit down and work out how complicated this is; it could be very complicated," he said.
McQuaid said the cycling body did not have the resources to fund two processes, particularly if one involving WADA was likely to be longer and broader.
"We have to make a decision on which is the most suitable for the sport," he said. "I think to move forward for the sport...the truth and reconciliation is the best process but it's going to take longer.
"The truth and reconciliation process under the UCI IC (independent commission) banner is not something necessarily that we want. The truth and reconciliation process with WADA is what we want to set up," he added.
McQuaid denied playing for time and said the WADA code, a current stumbling block to any process, could be changed to allow the granting of amnesties when the foundation board next met in May.
"We'd love to be in a position to give an amnesty but we have to follow the WADA code," he said. "Given that (a change) is likely to happen, I think this will be a better solution and will be a preferred option."
McQuaid said WADA had indicated that they would share costs with the UCI and hoped Armstrong would testify.
"We heard him say the other day that he would be one of the first in the door and it would be important if he came that he disclosed a lot more than he disclosed on the television," he said.
Armstrong won seven straight Tour de France titles from 1999 but was stripped of them after being found guilty of doping last October. He spoke out about his wrongdoings for the first time on American television last week.
(Editing by Clare Falllon)