Armstrong’s legal team pushes for witnesses to be named in its reaction against USADA
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Armstrong’s legal team pushes for witnesses to be named in its reaction against USADA

by Shane Stokes at 7:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Doping
 
USADA had said anonymity was used due to previous coercion and intimidation

Lance ArmstrongLast month Lance Armstrong indicated that he was done fighting claims he used banned drugs, saying that he was fatigued with the whole issue, and wanted to move on. “In my mind, I’m truly done. You can interpret that however you want,” he told Men’s Journal. “But no matter what happens, I’m finished. I’m done fighting. I’ve moved on. If there are other things that arise, I’m not contesting anything. Case closed.”

However, two days after the US Anti Doping Agency sent him notice that he was being charged with numerous anti-doping violations, along with former team manager Johan Bruyneel and four others, Armstrong looks set to take on USADA and contest the claims.

"I'm exploring all my options," the Texan told the Associated Press yesterday. "They're not limited only to arbitration with USADA. I think there are other questions that need to be answered with regard to their behaviour and tactics."

"They are well known to move the goal line on you," he said. "We are entitled to certain things, certain pieces of evidence, if not all the evidence in terms of what will be in front of the review board," he said.

Armstrong was in France to take part in the Nice Ironman this weekend, but organisers have prevented him from taking part. “The rules governing the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) state that no athletes under investigation can participate in the event,” said Ironman France spokeswoman Delphine Vivet.

VeloNation received confirmation yesterday that it is the World Triathlon Corporation which is blocking Armstrong rather than USADA; contrary to some press reports, at this point in time he is not prevented from competing under USADA’s own rules.

A letter sent by Armstrong’s attorney Robert Luskin to USADA this week shows that the Texan and his legal team are pushing for information that they could use in defending against the USADA claims.

They are trying to compel USADA to reveal the names of the witnesses who gave details of what they said were doping actions carried out by Armstrong, Bruyneel and others. "We cannot protect Mr. Armstrong's rights without knowing who is saying what and what events that allegedly occurred over the course of a decade and a half," Luskin wrote in the letter. "Even at this preliminary stage, your reliance on secret witnesses making deliberately vague charges is unconscionable."

In USADA’s charge letter sent to Armstrong, Bruyneel, doctors Michele Ferrari, Pedro Celaya and Luis Garcia del Moral plus the Spanish trainer Pepe Marti on Tuesday, the agency outlined why it wished to keep the names private at this point in time.

“In this case anonymity of the witnesses at the Review Board stage is also important to shield them from the retaliation and attempted witness intimidation that cooperating witnesses have faced in other matters related to the USPS Conspiracy,” it wrote.

Earlier in the letter, it outlined what it said were examples of such behaviour which had been used in the past. It was listed as point six on the list of points that would be made by witnesses should things go to a hearing. This was said to be “the use of fear, intimidation and coercion to attempt to enforce a code of silence (or omerta) by team members and employees to prevent detection of the Conspiracy or the prosecution of co-conspirators for anti-doping rule violations.”

Last year a complaint was lodged with federal investigators that Armstrong sought to intimdate former team-mate Tyler Hamilton when the latter went to the Cache Cache restaurant in Aspen.

USADA stated that more than ten of Armstrong’s former team-mates and support personnel will testify if required.

In a separate letter, Luskin has accused USADA of vendetta-like behaviour and issued threats that it would take action.

“USADA should understand that, if you persist in your effort to vilify Lance Armstrong, we will not hesitate to expose your motives and your methods and to hold you accountable for your conduct.” It listed a series of complaints and said that it wanted to be heard before USADA’s Audit and Ethics Committee.

The approach clearly conflicts with the language used in the Mens’ Journal article, and points towards a likely defence against the charges by Armstrong and his legal team.

He has until June 22nd to make written submittals to the USADA Review Board. It will then decide if there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed. In the event that it does, Armstrong and the other defendants can opt to accept the sanctions, or to fight them in an arbitration hearing.

USADA states that the hearing would most likely take place before November of this year.
 

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