Friday, June 29, 2012

Lance Armstrong Investigation: USADA's Case to Move to Arbitration

Various news outlets from the Wall Street Journal to VeloNation are stating that a three-person independent review board has ruled unanimously to move forward with USADA's doping case against Lance Armstrong. In essence, the review board served as a quasi Grand Jury that determines if USADA has enough evidence to pursue sanctions against Lance and the others.

Previously, USADA stated that the arbitration hearing (assuming those involved don't accept the sanctions -- wink, wink) will take place before November of this year. Presumably, now that the case is moving forward, Lance and the others (including Johan Bruyneel and Michele Ferrari, Pedro Celaya, Luis Garcia del Moral and Jose Pepe Marti) will learn more about the evidence USADA has and maybe we will also learn more as well. So far we know that at least ten former team members will testify that they have firsthand knowledge that Lance doped or tried to get others to dope. They have also stated that they have blood results from 2009 and 2010 that show evidence of doping.

As might be expected, Lance and his attorneys are attacking USADA and the review board. Lance has discovered embarrassing personal information about one member of the review board as this quote from VeloNation suggests:

Earlier today, Armstrong attacked one of the review board panel members, Clark Griffith. He blasted him on his Twitter account, writing "Wow. (at)usantidoping can pick em. Here's ... 1 of 3 Review Board members studying my case.”
He linked to a story about Griffith which notes that the Minneapolis attorney had been charged earlier this year in a misdemeanour case of indecent exposure. Griffith entered a plea which didn’t admit wrongdoing but acknowledged prosecutors have enough evidence for him to be convicted by a jury; he has told the AP that he is innocent, but that he entered the plea to avoid a trial which could embarrass his family. 
Griffith will not form any part of the arbitration panel which will ultimately decide the case. He dismissed Armstrong’s tweet as "an effort to get away from the issues that will be dealt with by an arbitration panel. OK? By smearing me, that does nothing. I'm innocent of that.”
You can surely expect more drama from Lance and his attorneys as he tries desperately to preserve his legacy and give any remaining hero worshippers some way to believe he was clean.

Here's to hoping justice is served by USADA so the sport of cycling can begin to move past these ugly times when nearly all of Lance's competitors were found to be dopers. I'm afraid that getting the pro cycling peloton completely over this ugly past is something that will take superhuman effort and serious changes from the top to the bottom of the sport.

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