First, this claim is being picked up by some of my Facebook friends in a very articulate but completely misleading editorial in the Washington Post by Lance's biographer, Sally Jenkins. In reading this article, one should note that Sally Jenkins is a business partner with Lance and she doesn't want her books to be viewed as fairy tales.
Here is my response to this editorial and all those who buy into Lance's PR campaign.
Sally wrote the following:
Anyone who thinks an athlete has a fair shot in front of CAS should review the Alberto Contador case. Contador was found to have a minuscule, insignificant amount of clenbuterol in his urine during the 2010 Tour de France. After hearing 4,000 pages of testimony and debate, CAS acknowledged that the substance was too small to have been performance-enhancing and that its ingestion was almost certainly unintentional.Response: To say that Alberto Contador's sanction was improper is ridiculous. Contador, like Lance, agreed to follow certain rules. They entered into contracts saying they would not have Clenbuterol in their urine--even in miniscule amounts. Just because there is one line in the case that says Contador didn't have enough Clenbuterol to be performance enhancing ignores the fact that there may once have been enough Clenbuterol to be performance enhancing and the other evidence in his case showing the guy was almost certainly doping.
Even with this in mind however, we need to remember that Contador signed his license to race and, in doing so, agreed to accept sanctions by anti-doping authorities if he was found to have even miniscule amounts of some PEDs, including Clenbuterol, in his body. Contador was responsible to make sure he didn't accidentally or intentionally get Clenbuterol in his body. Tour de France athletes are very diligent in eating the right stuff. Anyone who buys Contador's story that he ate some bad beef that a friend gave him is also probably looking for Bernie Madoff to get released from prison so he can invest with him. The anti-doping authorities that Contador agreed to be subject to ruled he should be sanctioned. Case closed.
Sally Jenkins also goes on about the former prime minister of Spain stating Contador was innocent. This part of her editorial is completely naive or biased on her part. Contador was a hero in Spain and Spain has some of the worst, if not the worst, doping problems in cycling of anywhere in the world. The country has a completely bogus process for sanctioning its athletes and they have teams and athletes getting caught out of the country all the time.
In any case, who cares if the former prime minister thinks Contador should maintain his national hero status? If President Obama said that OJ Simpson should be considered innocent since he was never proven to be a murderer would that be reason to believe OJ's story?! If you answer yes then buy into Sally Jenkins' argument. If not, recognize it as equally absurd as the OJ analogy!
USADA and WADA are Unfair
Here is another press release for Lance that Sally Jenkins wrote:
...(P)rofessional basketball player Diana Taurasi...has called the international drug testing bureaucracy “one of the most unfair processes you can be put through,”Well, if that's the case then the athletes should refuse to agree to follow the rules of the international testing bureaucracy. The players' unions have say in these matters. The way to change this is to change the contract, not to change the rules after you were found to have done something that violated the contract.
But of all the claims that the process is unfair made by Sally Jenkins, this one gets top honors for naivety:
How does an agency that is supposed to regulate drug testing strip a guy of seven titles without a single positive drug test?This is the silliest statement in the whole column. Is she really that ignorant? I doubt it. She's banking on most of her readers being ignorant though. Here's why.
First, Lance agreed to the rules he is being held to. The rules say that athletes can be sanctioned on "non-analytical" grounds such as convincing testimony of others. Lance has over ten teammates who are willing to sacrifice their own reputation by admitting to doping on his team and seeing him do the same. One more apparently came forward this week and offered to testify even though nobody asked him to. He, like many of the others, will, presumably, get no significant benefit out of doing so while damaging his reputation and standing among friends and family by admitting to being a doper and a fraud.
In addition, it appears Sally Jenkins hasn't read this article, published yesterday in the same paper publishing her editorial. The article spells out how athletes can easily avoid being caught doping. In addition, Lance isn't the first one to be sanctioned without ever failing a doping test. Marion Jones used to offer the fact that she never failed a doping test as evidence she was innocent before she confessed to doping.
Is USADA Unconstitutional?
Ultimately, some are picking up on claims by Armstrong that USADA's process is unconstitutional and unfair. Lance's multi-million dollar legal team (a team that has a history of defending the toughest cases), could not convince a federal judge that USADA's arbitration process was unfair. But what about the statements the judge made that were critical of USADA? Remember, he ruled that USADA's case can proceed. That should be the bottom line. Again, taking things out of context and grabbing a few lines makes it sound like USADA was abusive.
What Lance doesn't want people to know is why the judge spoke harshly toward USADA. That is, the judge was concerned that USADA hadn't made their evidence known to Lance. They charged him but didn't tell him many details about what they had for evidence. This sounds pretty bad. How can Lance defend himself if he doesn't know what evidence they are claiming?
The answer is simple: USADA explained that they were temporarily withholding their evidence because of concern for witness intimidation. If you know what happened to Tyler Hamilton, you'll know that Lance has done that previously. USADA wanted to protect their evidence until they were certain to follow the due process that ensures they can arbitrate the case. They didn't want to let the world know what their evidence was if they weren't going to be allowed to be the prosecutor. Doesn't sound so bad now does it?
In the end, the judge ruled that USADA's process would lead to a fair outcome; what more can USADA ask for! This should be hard to argue with! He didn't rule against USADA because USADA's process IS fair. He was warning USADA to reveal their evidence and they said they will give Lance and his legal team several months notice to review the evidence before they have to defend him. You have to know the whole story--not selected tidbits.
Who's the Bad Guy and Who are the Victims?
The bottom line is that Lance Armstrong gave up because he was guilty of doping for several years and there is overwhelming evidence that he could not fight in the end. This case is not about USADA being the bad guy! Lance was one of many in that era who doped; there is virtually zero doubt among those who know this sport that Lance cheated and broke the rules and was likely the worst cheater of them all. He should be punished and the truth revealed.
If you want to consider who is the bad guy, think of the many people whose lives were damaged because Lance didn't want the truth revealed. Think of Betsy and Frankie Andreu and the many others.
Those hurt by him include some who lost millions by his actions to protect himself including Greg LeMond. Others lost millions including SCA Promotions who lost $7.5 million that they are due since Lance doped. Incidentally, Lance is hoping the evidence against him is never validated by a court of law so that SCA and others can't sue him and get their money back. I'm pretty sure that is one reason Lance called it quits before going through arbitration.
Anyone who makes USADA out to be the bad guy in this is basically either a fairy-tale hero worshipper, naive or has some money or fame in the game that they want to protect.