A review board at the US Anti-Doping Agency has weighed the evidence against Lance Armstrong and a letter Armstrong submitted in his defence… and decided to formally charge Armstrong with doping.Armstrong now has the opportunity to fight the charges in an arbitration hearing, at which he will be considered innocent until proven guilty.
If Armstrong does not fight the charges–or if he does and loses–the USADA will likely strip him of all his Tour de France titles.
Armstrong has always vehemently maintained his innocence.
He has also said that he welcomed a full investigation into his conduct so that he could finally clear his name.
If Lance Armstrong is, in fact, innocent, therefore, he will presumably look forward to telling his full story in front of the arbitration panel and the public.
Armstrong has not yet said he will fight the charges, however.
And he also is not acting like he is innocent.
No sooner had the charges been formalized yesterday than Armstrong went on the attack again.
Armstrong’s attorney once again blasted the USADA as toxic and vindictive.
And Armstrong himself shredded one of the would-be arbitrators in the case, a lawyer who was arrested and charged for a misdemeanour case of indecent exposure earlier this year.
Here’s how Jim Vertuno of the AP describes that attack:
”Wow. (at)usantidoping can pick em. Here’s … 1 of 3 Review Board members studying my case,” Armstrong tweeted, linking to an online story about Griffith.
Griffith entered an Alford plea on June 13. Under the plea, Griffith did not admit doing anything wrong but acknowledged prosecutors have enough evidence for a jury to convict him. A 24-year-old student reported Griffith unzipped his pants in front of her on a St. Paul street.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 26. Griffith told the AP he’s innocent and entered the plea to avoid a trial that would embarrass his family.
Griffith said Armstrong’s tweet was ”an effort to get away from the issues that will be dealt with by an arbitration panel. OK? By smearing me, that does nothing. I’m innocent of that.”
Armstrong’s attorney, meanwhile, also hinted that Armstrong may respond to the charges not by fighting them and telling his story, but by suing the USADA to stop or delay the case.
As bizarre as it seems, therefore, it may be possible that Armstrong will choose not to fight the charges, but instead try to make them go away.
There is precedent for this. People have sued the SEC and other organisations for wrongful conduct, and in some cases they have won. So perhaps this will prove to be a viable legal strategy.
In terms of his public reputation, though, if Armstrong is innocent, he would likely do better to tell his story in full and hope that people–and the arbitration panel–believe him.
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NOTE: Almost everyone has strong feelings about the Armstrong case, both pro and con. Lance Armstrong’s supporters don’t want to see his amazing accomplishments tarnished any more than they already have been (and, doped or not, the accomplishments are still amazing). They also point out that this is all very old news and that the country has better things to focus on. Others, meanwhile, simply want to know the truth. I’m in the latter camp. I followed Lance Armstrong’s Tour victories minute by minute, and those and his charitable work have always been hugely inspiring to me. Based on all that has come out about cycling in the past decade, I have come to assume that pretty much everyone in the sport doped and that you had to dope if you wanted to be competitive. Given this, I can certainly understand why Lance Armstrong would have doped, and if he did, I’m not going to get on some huge moral high horse about his “cheating.” (“Cheating” gives you an unfair advantage over the rest of the field. You don’t get that if everyone else in the field is doing the same thing.) If Lance Armstrong didn’t dope, meanwhile, and everyone else–including his teammates–did, his accomplishments are that much more staggering. And inasmuch as we’ve come this far, I want to know the truth.
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