By Annie Kinny and Matt Burgess, Director.
Seven time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong is facing a lifetime ban from cycling and is at risk of losing his Tour de France titles following allegations of doping by The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Despite the Los Angeles attorney’s office ending a two year investigation into doping allegations which involved Armstrong, without bringing criminal charges, USADA has issued Mr Armstrong with a formal notice letter, notifying him of ‘anti-doping rule violations’ and has also accused five former cycling team associates [of Mr Armstrong] of engaging in a doping conspiracy from 1998-2011. In addition to charges of drug use and ‘blood manipulation’ the USADA is also citing ‘aggravating circumstances’ which justify a greater period of ineligibility than a usual sanction.
The USADA only initiates matters which are supported by credible evidence of doping. The USADA protocol provides that the USADA is to make a written submission to the anti-doping review board (Review Board), which outlines the reasons and evidence appropriate for an anti-doping rule violation. The process before the review board is not a ‘hearing process’ rather, the role of the Review Board is only to consider any written submissions made by the USADA and by the accused. If case proceeds beyond the Review Board the USADA can then recommend a sanction under the anti-doping rules, which may include a lifetime ban. However, Armstrong will have a right to request a hearing to contest any decision made by the USADA.
USADA Charges and Evidence
The USADA claims that the evidence collected reflects a pervasive pattern of doping, involving prohibited substances and methods and that blood samples collected from Mr Armstrong in 2009-2010 were “fully consistent with blood manipulation and/or blood transfusions.” In the letter to Mr Armstrong the USADA claims that the evidence and information gathered is based upon multiple first-hand accounts given by riders and other witnesses who allege that Armstrong possessed, attempted to use or used, trafficked, encouraged others to use and administered [to others] prohibited substances. The USADA also allege that Armstrong and five other team members engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ and a ‘cover up’ by attempting to conceal their conduct through false and misleading statements given to the media during legal proceedings and by attempting to intimidate, discredit, silence or retaliate against witnesses.
Armstrong has dismissed the allegations as ‘baseless and motivated by spite’ and has competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one,” he said. “That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence.” However the USADA is not a body which enforces criminal sanctions, rather the role of the USADA is to protect clean sport and despite the US attorney dropping previous charges the USADA will seek to gain any evidence collected during the criminal investigation into doping.
Armstrong and others accused have until the 22nd of June 2012 to submit any relevant information to the Review Board and if a hearing is held it is expected to commence before November 2012. It would seem Armstrong’s sole reason for paying respect to USADA process and requests are that he could have his accomplishments stripped through implementation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) protocols.
Despite the media furore behind the allegations, all persons named are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. However, Armstrong is reportedly banned from competition in triathlons in the meantime. Is he being targeted because he was so good and is he questioning whether it is worth the glory when it is continually questioned?
Stay tuned into this blog as it grows with this story…
This blog is for discussion purposes only. This must not be considered legal advice.
For legal advice on this topic and references to any information in this article, please contact
Matt Burgess, Director:
Phone: +61 405 722 739
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Image Credit: Rasmus Thomsen
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