Could have gone either way…
On Monday, as scheduled, the UCI held a press conference to announce it would recognize the reasoned decision submitted by USADA and not appeal to the CAS. Honestly, based on the UCI’s history, it was 50/50. I don’t think any one who follows the sport would have been surprised had they chosen to appeal the decision up to CAS. Yes, many big sponsors had already “endorsed” the decision by sacking Armstrong, but again given the UCI’s past behavior it was plausible they could appeal. Perhaps they realised they had no choice but to uphold the decision, perhaps there was pressure from somewhere else like IOC (unlikely, but we don’t know), but whatever the reason, they chose wisely in our opinion. It does not redeem them by any stretch, and they should still be removed and replaced by new leadership, but that is the topic of another post!
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Exploring the USADA case
So I had some time Monday night during an exam to pore over some of the documents from the USADA case. If you visit the USADA website, you might see why it took them over month to produce the evidence to the UCI—it must have taken them that long just to upload all the files. Kidding aside, though, it is an absolute mountain of detailed information and evidence.
Especially relevant to this week’s news, though, is the correspondence between UCI President Pat McQuaid and the USADA. Recall that McQaid first stated at the outset that the UCI would stay out and let the USADA proceed with their investigation. . .only to change his tune later and challenge the organisation’s jurisdiction. . .only to take another about face and now validate the findings and decision by USADA. It’s farcical that the president of a global sporting organisation behaves like this, and that as late September 17, still was challenging the jurisdiction USADA had over Armstrong.
It’s a rule violation, not an illegal activity
A common argument that keeps coming up from supporters is that there is no “evidence” to support the sanction, or cries that the information provided by USADA hardly passed for evidence. This is amusing since witness testimony contributes to the body of evidence in legal cases, so I don’t think that argument really works.
But more importantly, we have to be clear that USADA did not evaluate whether or not Armstrong broke a law. Instead, they evaluated whether or not he broke a rule, specifically as outlined in the rule books for cycling and triathlon during the years in question. Whether or not Armstrong is charged with a crime in the United States remains to be seen. Currently people are murmuring about the possibility of a perjury charge, since on at least one occasion during the SCA hearings he testified under oath. Can a prosecutor prove he lied? We don’t know—that is not our area here, you have to visit our sister site The Law of Sport to read about that.
No human rights, constitutional rights, or any other rights have been violated. USADA operated within its responsibilities as an anti-doping organisation. And for anyone whose doping paradigm is still stuck in last century, sanctioning athletes in the absence of an “analytical finding” is entirely acceptable, and in this case Armstrong is just another athlete on the growing list of those who have in fact been sanctioned without ever testing positive (officially).
So don’t bemoan the process. If you want to support him as a cancer survivor, please do. By some accounts it’s a near miracle he survived such an advanced case of cancer that had spread throughout his body. But it has now become patently obvious that at least since 1998, all of his cycling success was achieved by breaking the rules. Was the era fraught with doping? Absolutely, and the UCI more than anyone else is to blame for t hat. But that does not make it ok that anyone broke the rules. And worse, he and his foundation benefited immensely as a direct result of his sporting success, which was fraudulent. His net worth is estimated upwards of $125 million, and does anyone reading think it would be that high had he not won seven tours?
Be informed: read the USADA documents
The information there is sometimes old, most of the time revealing, and always interesting. If you are a cycling fan or want to have all the facts to form your own informed opinion, we suggest you wade through them. Due to the volume there is likely to be more analysis of them in time as people can consume and digest all the info there.
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