Lance Armstrong accuses USADA of violating its own rules in pursuit of doping violations
By Amy Shipley,
Lance Armstrong once again blasted the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for allegedly violating its own rules in a letter urging the agency’s anti-doping review board to reject the wide-ranging doping charges USADA recently levied against him.
In a June 27 letter signed by Armstrong’s attorney, the seven-time Tour de France champion claims USADA broke its own protocol this week by belatedly providing information about two witnesses against him. Armstrong further contends the new information — which comes from a television interview and letter previously made public — is so feeble and fraught with problems that it actually undermines USADA’s case and even jurisdiction in the matter.
“USADA has no regard for its own Protocol, fairness, or common notions of decency,” said the letter signed by Robert D. Luskin, one of Armstrong’s attorneys and a partner at Washington’s Patton Boggs LLP.
In Tuesday’s letter, Luskin demands a full 10 days to respond to the new evidence produced, citing the agency’s rules while also attempting to discredit the information.
The new pieces of evidence, according to the letter, were a recording of an interview by cyclist Tyler Hamilton given to “60 Minutes” last year, when Hamilton publicly accused Armstrong of doping, and a communication written by cyclist Floyd Landis to a USA Cycling official in 2010, accusing Armstrong of doping.
USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis T. Tygart said in a statement that the anti-doping review board “expressed concern about the potential for intimidation and retaliation against USADA’s witnesses” and therefore asked that the agency supply only information about witnesses that was already in the public domain.
“USADA will continue to follow the established procedures that are compliant with federal law and were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and all Olympic sports organizations,” Tygart said.
USADA recently alleged Armstrong and five associates with four of his former professional cycling teams participated in a massive doping conspiracy over more than a decade. The quasi-government agency, which has authority over anti-doping issues for Olympic sports in the United States, then handed the matter to its independent anti-doping review board.
If the board agrees there is evidence to pursue a case, Armstrong will be handed a formal competition ban and offered the opportunity to contest the matter in arbitration. Armstrong already has been banned from competition in Ironman triathlons while the matter is pending.
The Armstrong letter contends that Landis’ e-mail to USA Cycling officially handed jurisdiction in the case to the International Cycling Union, not USADA. It further argues that Landis is an admitted liar whose testimony cannot be the basis for legitimate doping charges; that Hamilton and Landis both convey allegations that are verifiably wrong; and that all of the doping violations they allege, except possibly for one, fall outside the World Anti-Doping Code’s eight-year statute of limitations and should be discarded.
Furthermore, the letter argues, the date of the lone allegation that might fall within the statute of limitations must be established. Landis alleged he witnessed blood doping on a bus in 2004; the Armstrong letter argues that all alleged violations before June 12, 2004, cannot be considered.
“USADA has no jurisdiction to bring charges in its June 12 letter,” the letter states. “For this reason alone, the Board should not allow USADA to proceed. Even assuming arguendo that USADA has any jurisdiction here, it has not presented any credible evidence in support of its charges.”