As you know, Lance has been stripped of his titles and banned from cycling for his lifetime by a partially government-funded agency. There is no physical evidence that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs. But some people have said that he did, and therefore, his career has been ended. He says he’s innocent but tired of fighting his accusers and the system.
Sally Jenkins has written two books with Armstrong. I read the first, It’s Not About the Bike (2000), earlier this summer. This is the memoir of a much younger man but even so, the doping allegations don’t jive with the tenor of this first book.
Jenkins writes in the Washington Post:
“I have so many problems with USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) — which is supposed to be where athletes can appeal, only they never, ever win — that it’s hard to know where to begin. American athletes have lost 58 of 60 cases before the CAS. Would you want to go before that court?
Anyone who thinks an athlete has a fair shot in front of CAS should review the Alberto Contador case. Contador was found to have a minuscule, insignificant amount of clenbuterol in his urine during the 2010 Tour de France. After hearing 4,000 pages of testimony and debate, CAS acknowledged that the substance was too small to have been performance-enhancing and that its ingestion was almost certainly unintentional.
Therefore he was guilty. He received a two-year ban.
CAS’s rationale? “There is no reason to exonerate the athlete so the ban is two years,” one member of the panel said. Would you want to go before that court?
The decision was so appalling that even the Tour runner-up, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, couldn’t swallow it and refused to accept the title of winner…
When are people going to grow sick enough of these astonishing overreaches and abuses to do something about it?…How does an agency that is supposed to regulate drug testing strip a guy of seven titles without a single positive drug test? Whether Armstrong is innocent or guilty, that question should give all of us pause. How is it that an American agency can decide to invalidate somebody’s results achieved in Europe, in a sport it doesn’t control? Better question, how is it that an American taxpayer-funded organization can participate in an adjudication system in which you get a two-year ban because “there is no reason to exonerate” you? At what point is such an organization shut down and defunded?”
The French are happy with the Armstrong decision. I, for one, am not. Had he tested positive, I’d say justice was done. But that’s not the case. In the meantime, his foundation is fighting cancer and making the world a better place. Donations are up, not down. No one can take that away from him.
Kangaroo courts, say Merriam-Webster, pervert and disregard the principles of law and justice. There are disturbing similarities between the courts veterans have to deal with and those that athletes must. Most veterans give up fighting when they lose their claims.
Update: January 18, 2013. Well, Lance Armstrong has confessed to doping, lying and cheating about it–for 13 years–during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. As a representative of the United States in the endurance sport of cycling, he’s let us all down in a very big way. The anti-doping agencies however need to be reformed from what I’ve read. In this case, they were spot on.
Speaking of Kangaroo Courts, I received this from the Bobmeister in Mosquitoville the other day. It’s disturbing to see the focus of vA’s animosity directed towards the small players in the game. While I certainly don’t condone stealing from the government, and abhor the idea of padding the mileage for travel pay, I feel they are losing sight of the bigger picture. The longer the backlog festers, the worse the accuracy statistics will become. It’s axiomatic that haste makes waste. Turning the claims process into an assembly-line procedure has yielded little in volume. Considering the much-quoted figure of a 60% error rate based on remands, things will get more Kangaroo before they get Wallaby.