Debate Right, 9/4

Armstrong still a winner

By Rob Scott

When you think of any sports, most people associate prime athletes with those sports.

In basketball, you think of the all-time great Michael Jordan. Baseball, you think of the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth. Tennis, you think of Andre Agassi or the Williams sisters. Hockey is Wayne Gretzky. This is not to say these athletes made the sport, but rather brought the sport to a new level and caused athletes in those sports to follow their example.

Thinking of the sport of cycling, no one comes as quickly to mind as Lance Armstrong. Frankly, I would never even give the sport a second look if it were not for Armstrong. He is an unprecedented seven-time winner of the Tour de France, which is the Super Bowl for cycling, among many other races he has won. Armstrong has been named sportsman of the year and received numerous awards due to his athletic capabilities on a bike.

Most know his story of surviving cancer and his organization geared towards fighting cancer with the yellow Livestrong wrist-bands.

After all his accomplishments, an organization named the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has set out to show Armstrong cheated. The group claims Armstrong doped with performance enhancing drugs and skirted drug testing through blood transfusions and has since moved that his titles are to be removed.

The USADA is a non-profit, non-governmentalorganization and the national anti-doping organization (NADO) for the United States. The organization has control of the anti-doping programs for U.S. Olympic, Paralympic, Pan-American and ParaPan American sport. Its work includes in-competition and out-of-competition testing, the results management and adjudication process, and more.

Armstrong attempted to have the USADA’s charges dismissed on dual grounds for violation of his constitutional right to due process and lack of the organization’s jurisdiction regarding his case in Federal court. In Armstrong’s case, the U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled in USADA’s favor but had deep concerns. In his opinion, the Judge wrote “USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives.”

Armstrong has been the subject of many investigations by the USADA into doping throughout his career, and the USADA’s sole case in chief was based on testimony of former teammates and physicians rather than blood or urine test analysis. Armstrong continuously pointed to physical evidence showing negative results on all his testing that he was mandated to do as proving his innocence.

The USADA’s case, which is completely based on circumstancial evidence, likely would not hold up to a court of law procedure, specifically under the rules of evidence.  USADA has an administrative process and a minimal arbitration process. After the years of fighting and mounting controversy, Armstrong threw in the towel saying that he had enough and wanted to move on with his life.

Since, the organization has put a stain on the sport of cycling due to their quasi-baseless charges against Armstrong based on zero physical evidence. All of the tests that they and the sport require, Armstrong passed.

For the USADA to do this would be like a U.S. court declaring someone guilty of murder on the testimony of a few people with no murder weapon or fingerprints with the alleged perpetrator having a confirmed scientific alibi.

This scenario certainly would not pass the reasonable doubt standard in the law nor does the USADA’s case against Armstrong. The USADA has been reckless and has changed many lives in sports. Regardless if Armstrong did or did not dope for strategic advantage, the USADA should require of itself due process for the athletes they monitor.

If Armstrong did dope and the USADA can prove that through due process, then the famed cyclist should lose his titles and be banned. However, until those rights for Armstrong and any other athlete are upheld, Lance Armstrong should keep his titles.

Rob Scott is a practicing attorney at Oldham & Deitering, LLC. Scott is the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party and the founder of the Dayton Tea Party. He can be contacted at rob@oldhamdeitering.com or www.gemcitylaw.com.

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