Friday, July 13, 2012

Lance Armstrong Investigation: USADA Under Political Pressure

Congressman Sensenbrenner
Well, you have to hand it to Lance. Just when it looks like he will receive some consequences for the massive doping that his teammates have allegedly accused him of, cases are closed and politicians come to his rescue. First the DOJ drops his case earlier this year with virtually no explanation and now a Congressman from Wisconsin is putting pressure on USADA to back off. Amazing!

Here is some more information from an article on VeloNews

The congressman, James Sensenbrenner, wrote a letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which oversees USADA and stated: 
“The U.S. Congress has no role in determining whether an individual athlete doped, but we do have a great interest in how taxpayer money is spent,” Sensenbrenner wrote in his letter to Kerlikowske.
He continued:

“As USADA’s main funding source, ONDCP should take interest in the agency’s conduct. Nonetheless, I have found virtually no evidence of ONDCP oversight of USADA… ONDCP should take a serious interest in how its funds are spent.”
Are you kidding me? We have deficits in this country that exceed $15 trillion which is about $50,000 for every US citizen and he is concerned about how USADA's $9 million in taxpayer funds is being spent?! This is roughly 3 cents per citizen! I definitely want Congress to figure out how to quit spending so much money but don't try to tell me you're upset with USADA investigating Lance Armstrong because you want to save taxpayer funding!

So what could be motivating Sensenbrenner to pressure USADA? Maybe this part of the VeloNews article will spark some ideas for you:
Sensenbrenner represents the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin. The Fifth District includes parts of Jefferson (county)... Armstrong’s longtime bicycle sponsor, Trek, is based in Waterloo, Wisconsin, which is part of Jefferson County.
Is it starting to make more sense? I remember reading once that Lance owned part of Trek. I don't know if he still owns part of the company but it wouldn't surprise me if he is still a large shareholder. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few phone calls between Fabiani and Trek to Mr. Sensenbrenner and maybe even some political contributions heading his way. After all, I find it pretty hard to imagine that the good Congressman just woke up yesterday and said: "We have some real fiscal problems in this country. I think USADA is the cause. We need to find out if they are wasting all the taxpayer money we give them!"

No, he definitely didn't do this given that the article says that "Sensenbrenner made it clear he sides with Armstrong’s attack against USADA..." Here is more from his letter:
“USADA seeks to strip Armstrong of his achievements and the substantial winnings that accompanied them without offering him even basic due process,” Sensenbrenner said. ”The alleged lack of fairness raises concerns for athletes of all levels, the majority of whom lack the resources and platform to challenge USADA’s actions.” 
“USADA’s authority over Armstrong is strained at best,” Sensenbrenner said. ”To circumvent its jurisdictional challenges and its statute of limitations, USADA has adopted a novel conspiracy theory.”
This sounds like someone cut and pasted from Lance's press releases and put it into Mr. Sensenbrenner's letter. Maybe Sensenbrenner has some aids who briefed him on Lance's plight with USADA. Or maybe, as is more likely, some of Lance's legal team are working as Sensenbrenner's aids in this matter...

When it was first announced that USADA was pursuing this matter, I thought to myself that they must have a very strong case or it would be political suicide to try to fight this battle. Even with what sounds like a pretty strong case, I have to tip my hat to Travis Tygart for fighting the battle. Lance's legal team has amazing power and connections and will try every angle to get him out of this. Here is Tygart's response to Mr. Sensenbrenner:
USADA CEO Travis Tygart issued a statement Thursday evening, stating that USADA would reach out to Congressman Sensenbrenner and offer to come in and discuss the process. 
“The case against all those involved in the USPS Pro-Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy, including Lance Armstrong was not brought lightly,” the statement read. ” We are well aware of his popularity and the admirers he has on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, but our responsibility is to clean athletes who demand that USADA protect their right to a level playing field by eradicating drug use from sport. They rightly depend upon USADA to ensure that no matter how famous or anonymous, we will treat each alleged offender the same. USADA accomplishes this directive when it has sufficient evidence and not on any other basis. Any decision to sanction an athlete is the result of multi-level review by persons independent of USADA including a panel of arbitrators following a full evidentiary hearing with a right of appeal where, witness testimony is given under oath and subject to cross examination and which can be open to the public."
“The evidence is overwhelming, and were we not to bring this case, we would be complicit in covering up evidence of doping, and failing to do our job on behalf of those we are charged with protecting. We will reach out to Congressman Sensenbrenner and offer to come in and discuss the process, which is the same in all cases whether it involves high profile athletes or those who are not.  We will also offer to brief the Congressman on how USADA is funded and the oversight that is provided by ONDCP. USADA is an open and transparent organization and welcomes to opportunity to fully address the Congressman’s inquiry.”
I'm pretty sure that the heat on Capitol Hill is only beginning to be felt. I hope Tygart has the fortitude to respond to all the attacks that he will be experiencing. In the meantime, I may try to find his email address to encourage him to stand strong. He may need all the encouragement he can get in the near future...


  1. Congressman Sensenbrenner need to understand that USADA may receive government funding, but is not an agent of the government and does not act on behalf of it, therefore, much of the Armstrong camp's argument is rendered invalid. This piece breaks down the funding and so-called unconstitutional smokescreen Lance's PR machine is churning out:

  2. This esteemed Congressman's contact info is here:

    People should write, to let him know what an absolutely transparent Tool he is coming across as. (Especially if you live in Wisconsin!)