by Benji Schwartz
Seven time champion of the Tour De France Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of all his titles for alleged use of dope during his races. After various attempts to avoid the charges, Armstrong finally decided to stop fighting the United States Anti-Doping Agency, saying, “Enough is enough,” after two years of investigation.
This article is not debating whether or not Armstrong is guilty, or whether or not the USADA has jurisdiction over him. (Both have already been decided: the jurisdiction was granted by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks and refusal to go to court renders Armstrong immediately guilty.) This article is about disappointment with how the USADA is dealing with this issue.
To begin, Armstrong, in his recent announcement, claimed that the USADA was unfairly targeting him. At face value, this sounds like a bitter excuse for getting caught, but Sparks agreed, saying that the constant attempts to investigate and prosecute Armstrong, who had never failed a drug test, were peculiar.
It does sound a little bit strange, but this could be passed off as the USADA trying to fulfill its job to stop doping. However, its solution to the problem makes this claim dubious.
Since Armstrong is no longer considered champion of his seven Tours de France, his victories were given to other contenders.
Four out of these seven titles were given to cyclists who have been caught doping or performing illegal blood transfusions. The other three titles were given to Jan Ullrich, who was suspected and then cleared of dope use, but not under nearly as much scrutiny as Armstrong.
So if the USADA is trying to take a stance against doping, why give championship titles to cyclists who have doped and taken illegal blood transfusions?
Additionally, the USADA is now withholding evidence of Armstrong’s dope usage, stating that it will be released “in due time.” To summarize, the USADA can target a person that it doesn’t like, bully him into submission, and then refuse to play by the rules of the U.S. Justice System.
Maybe this would be permissible if it were in the name of ensuring athletic responsibility, but it really wasn’t; this was, for some unexplained reason, all in the name of ending Lance Armstrong.
It’s a sad day when we can’t trust our government to give people a fair chance.