Lance Armstrong recently filed a lawsuit to attempt to stop the US Anti-Doping Agency from proceeding with its case against him.Yesterday, a judge threw that lawsuit out of court and blasted Armstrong in the process:
“This court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong’s desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification of Defendants, by sifting through 80 mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims.”
According to Armstrong’s own attorney, this judgement is a severe blow to Armstrong’s chances of retaining his Tour de France titles.
Because Armstrong’s attorney said in the lawsuit that Armstrong is “certain to lose” if he tries to fight the USADA charges by proceeding to an arbitration hearing.
Not surprisingly, this startling admission was not supported by the concession that Armstrong would lose because the evidence that the USADA has amassed against him is irrefutable.
Rather, it was explained by dozens of pages impugning the USADA, the head of the USADA, the US government, and other parties to the USADA’s doping allegations, and then by making a series of allegations designed to show that it is almost impossible for any athlete, including Armstrong, to prevail over the USADA in an arbitration hearing.
Basically, Armstrong describes a situation in which an athlete has little recourse or ability to defend him or herself once the USADA has decided that he or she is guilty of doping.
The lack of “due process” that Armstrong’s lawsuit describes makes many irrelevant allegations about the unfairness of the process, along with the following troubling one:
- The athlete cannot compel witnesses to testify in the arbitration hearing. The USADA, meanwhile, can use affidavits to introduce the witnesses’ testimony. This means that Armstrong can’t cross-examine his accusers, which seems fundamentally unfair.
Given that the evidence against Armstrong is likely based almost entirely on witness testimony, this seems unusual and unfair.
In any event, Armstrong’s lawsuit paves the way for him to not fight the USADA’s doping charges, but, instead, to simply continue to declare them ridiculous and unfair and go on with his life. This will likely result in his being stripped of his Tour de France titles and the ability to compete in more Iron Man triathlons, but it will spare him from being found guilty in an adjudicated arbitration hearing.
If Armstrong chooses to fight, meanwhile–he has until July 14th to decide–the lawsuit has already set the expectation that he will lose. At which point he will likely again declare the charges ridiculous and unfair and “rigged” and go on with his life.
Either way, the case does not seem to be headed for what many Armstrong observers were hoping it was headed for, which was a process that might finally prompt Lance Armstrong to tell his full story (guilty or innocent) and prove the truth about this question one way or the other.
One hopes that, at the very least, if Armstrong does not fight the charges, the USADA will release the evidence that has caused it to find Armstrong guilty of doping, so that we can all evaluate it.
And now we wait until July 14th…
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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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