LONDON -- The independent panel investigating doping in cycling hopes the chance for reduced bans and even immunity will encourage witnesses -- including Lance Armstrong -- to come forward. Tasked with shedding more light on the sports tainted past, the three-man commission, which is also investigating whether cyclings governing body colluded with Armstrong, has the power to propose reduced sanctions against testimonies. It has been set up with the approval of the World Anti-Doping Agency and will be able to seal deals with cheats offering valuable information. "The reduced bans will obviously apply to people who have not been already sanctioned," commission chairman Dick Marty told a conference call on Tuesday, adding that immunity could also be granted in some cases if the information is of "great importance." Armstrong has already been banned from Olympic sports for life but can still hope his case will be reviewed if he gives substantial information to the panel based in Lausanne, Switzerland. "For those who have already been punished and are still willing to give important information, the commission can advise the competent authorities to reconsider and shorten their bans," Marty said. The panel, which had a UCI-funded budget of 3 million Swiss francs ($3.35 million) was a key element in the manifesto of Brian Cookson, who was elected UCI president last year after defeating Pat McQuaid. It started its work on Tuesday with the aim of producing a comprehensive report within a year. "Its not just about learning from the past, its also learning lessons for the future so we dont make the same mistakes," Cookson said. The commissions main job is to determine how the culture of doping was able to flourish within cycling and to "discover the main providers and facilitators of doping in cycling" since the Festina affair in 1998. Armstrong has said he would co-operate with any international commission on doping in cycling. He has so far refused to provide sworn testimony to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, whose detailed report in 2012 of drug use by Armstrongs U.S. Postal Service team led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Cookson did not say whether Armstrong or former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and McQuaid had been contacted by the commission but added they would be more than welcomed. The UCI and Verbruggen have been accused of protecting Armstrong and helping cover up his doping. The American might be interested in co-operating after telling a British newspaper last year that Verbruggen helped him cover up doping at the 1999 Tour de France. Verbruggen dismissed it as a "ridiculous story." "There will an invitation to anyone who comes forward," Cookson said. "To anybody, Lance Armstrong or anybody else. Please come forward and offer your information to the commission. ... This is a window of opportunity." Both Marty and Cookson said confidentiality will be granted to witnesses but all the criminal offences compiled will be transmitted to the relevant authorities, whichever the country. They added that negotiations will take place with possible witnesses ahead of their testimonies in order to determine if the information they can provide justifies a reduced ban. "There can be preliminary discussions but until the evidence has been heard it is impossible to determine the amount of sanction reduction," Cookson said. "The reduced sanctions will only apply for the period that the commission is operating, and the danger is other people will come forward. If anyone has something to hide now is the time to come forward and tell all of the truth before someone else comes and tells the truth about your activities." The other members of the commission are German anti-doping expert Ulrich Haas and Peter Nicholson, a former Australian military officer and war crimes investigator. Alex Smith Jersey
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. Advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals should be a formality after Lionel Messi scored a penalty and Dani Alves added a late second to secure a commanding 2-0 advantage over City in the round of 16 on Tuesday.MIAMI - Good luck, Philadelphia.The 76ers will need it to avoid NBA ignominy.To avoid getting off to the first 0-19 start in NBA history, Philadelphia must beat San Antonio, Minnesota or Oklahoma City before Friday. As if things werent bad enough, theyre mired in a seven-game skid against the Spurs, a five-game slide against the Timberwolves and have lost 10 straight against the Thunder.No, the odds are not with Philadelphia right now, and the sheer magnitude of the losing is staggering.The 76ers have lost 22 straight games against Western Conference teams, doing so by a daunting average of 21 points per game — which isnt a good sign for a team that will play its next three against teams from the stronger side of the league.The 76ers have seven wins in their last 65 games. The Philadelphia Eagles have seven wins in their last 10.At 0-16, the 76ers already have the fourth-worst start in NBA history. Lose to the NBA champion Spurs on Monday, and the 76ers will tie the 1999 Clippers and 1988 expansion Heat for the second-worst, 0-17.The New Jersey Nets are the not-so-proud owners of this particular record, going 0-18 to start the 2009-10 season.Finally, while all this is bad, things could actually get worse for the 76ers.If they lose all 14 of their games in December, theyll finish 2014 with a 10-72 mark. That would surpass the Dallas Mavericks, whose 11-73 mark in 1993 represents the worst full-calendar-year record in NBA history.Winning once would save Philly from that dubious distinction.___Besides Philadelphias quest to avoid making history, heres some of what to watch in the NBA this week:PIERCES WEEK: Washingtons Paul Pierce gets to renew acquaintances with Kobe Bryant on Wednesday when the Lakers visit the Wizards, and Piierces third trip to Boston as an opponent is on Sunday.dddddddddddd Pierce enters this week 52 points behind Reggie Miller for 16th on the NBAs career scoring list.SPURS-GRIZZLIES: The defending champions go to Memphis on Friday night, a matchup of two of the Wests current frontrunners. Memphis comes into the week an NBA-best 15-2, and the two losses — both on the road — were by a total of five points. The Grizzlies led both of those games in the final moments.SKIDDING EAST: Its not only Philadelphia thats in a freefall in the East right now. Charlotte enters the week on a nine-game slide (including four losses by 20 points or more), and Detroit has dropped its last eight games. Its possible that when the 76ers and Pistons play Friday night, Philly could have lost 18 straight, and Detroit could be on a 10-game slide.CAVS IN CANADA: Preseason Eastern Conference favourite Cleveland heads north on Friday to take on East-leading Toronto, which will be without All-Star and leading scorer DeMar DeRozan because of a torn left groin tendon.GETTING HEALTHIER: Even with DeRozan out for presumably a few weeks, some star power is back. Derrick Rose has appeared in four straight Chicago games (he did leave one early) for the first time in just over a year, and Dwyane Wade returned to the Miami lineup at New York on Sunday night after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring.___STAT LINE OF THE WEEKStephen Curry, Golden State: He had 40 points against Miami on Nov. 25, finishing with at least five assists and five 3-pointers made for the 51st time in his career — one more than the previous NBA record, held by Ray Allen. For good measure, Curry eclipsed five assists and five 3s the next night at Orlando, as well. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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