Note: The most important news of the day is that I LOST 5 POUNDS THIS WEEK! Evidently, following weight watchers eatting guidelines, tracking what I eat and working out every day works! Who Knew?!?! Next week I’m shooting for the same, as I had a day this week where I went over my points limit.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts on this subject, most of us who have been following the Armstrong case from before the Department of Justice was involved were aware that the far more likely outcome was that the USADA would bring charges against Lance and that his sporting past, present, and future, and potentially his finances were in far more jeopardy than his actual freedom. Yesterday, the USADA sent letters to 6 people involved in what they indicate is a “USPS Conspiracy”. I’ve gotten a lot of questions on this subject and here are my answers to those questions:
1. Isn’t this double jeopardy? How can the feds charge him with this again?
It’s not double jeopardy for a couple of important reasons. First, he was never actually tried anywhere for the offenses the US DOJ and as no verdict was rendered, the DOJ could at some point still decided to bring charges and try him for them. Second, while the USADA receives about 65% of it’s funding from a US federal grant, they are a completely separate agency with different powers and different jurisdictions. Lance is at no risk of criminal charges directly from the USADA, though it is possible if more compelling information comes to light as a result of the USADA case, the DOJ could decide to file their own criminal charges.
2. Why are we wasting taxpayer dollars on this when the DOJ just wasted a bunch of money on it without anything coming of it?
As I mentioned above, the USADA is funding by a grant, that whether or not the investigation had been launched against Mr. Armstrong, that money would still have been given to the USADA for the policing of clean US sport. So while Lance may claim the case is a “witch hunt”, claiming it is a waste of taxpayer money doesn’t hold water. This money is specifically earmarked for clean sports, and it’s being used for just that purpose.
3. If the Feds weren’t able to convict, why would the USADA think they’ll be able to?
First, let me say that all the USADA has done so far is let Lance and Co. know that they are proceeding with the process of moving forward with charging them. There is still an anti-doping review board that these charges need to go to for approval before they can proceed with putting the charges before an independent arbitration panel for a hearing. In the time that the charges are in front of the review board, the 6 people who got letters get to decide if they are going to fight the charges or not (Lance recently said in an issue of Men’s Journal that he’s “done fighting” the doping claims, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks with that approach). If they decide not to fight the charges, the USADA can simply make a ruling. If they do fight, there are hearings in front of the arbitrator that Lance and Co can decide are public or not.
Now that we know how things would work, here’s why the USADA thinks they have a case; by participating in the witness questioning done by the DOJ, the USADA has access to more witness testimony that it has ever had access to before. By piggybacking on the criminal investigation where some riders likely took telling the truth far more seriously they were able to get results they might never have previously gotten without the threat of criminal charges. This, along with blood numbers in 2009 and 2010 that seem to clearly indicate EPO use during the tour even when he said he was coming back “clean, to prove to his kids he could”. Finally, by charging the group with the conspiracy, they can bring in older information that would fall outside the normal statute of limitations on a case like this.
4. What happens next? Is this going to drag out forever like the last one or the Alberto Contador hearing?
Lance and Co have just over a week to respond to the charge letter with their responses going to the review board along with the charges, and then a decision is made. If they’re charged, the hearing will happen no later than November, but based on the fact that it’s stopping Lance from racing in WTC for the time being (WTC has a policy that no athletes under investigation by a WADA signatory may race with them) I would expect Lance will press to have it over with as soon as possible