Armstrong protests against USADA actions, calls for case to be dropped
  September 20, 2014 Login  

Current Articles    |   Archives    |   RSS Feeds    |   Search

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Armstrong protests against USADA actions, calls for case to be dropped

by Shane Stokes at 5:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Armstrong legal team seeking names and addresses of witnesses plus other details

Lance ArmstrongActing on the date laid out as the deadline for a response to USADA’s charging letter which was issued on June 13th, Lance Armstrong and his legal team have called on the case to be dropped and outlined what it argues are several flaws in how USADA has handled the matter.

In a lengthy letter sent to USADA on June 22nd, Armstrong’s attorney Robert D. Luskin has blasted what he said is a charging document ‘long on stale allegations disproved long ago and short on evidence.’ He has requested USADA’s review board to ‘recommend that USADA not pursue the charges that were submitted because there is no evidence to support them,’ and, if it won’t do that, that it should suspend making a decision until such time as USADA gives it and the review board information and evidence requested by Armstrong.

The communication relates to an original charging letter printed in the media on June 13th, one day after it was sent to Armstrong, former US Postal Service general manager Johan Bruyneel, doctors Michele Ferrari, Pedro Celaya (who currently works with Team RadioShack Nissan), Luis Garcia del Moral and the Spanish trainer Pepe Marti, who worked with the team in the past and also coached Alberto Contador,

It accused the six of a ‘widespread doping conspiracy’ relating to the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams, and gave the defendants until June 22nd to make written submittals to the USADA review board. If the case proceeds to a full hearing, it will be held before November of this year. USADA has warned that could push for lifetime bans.

Yesterday’s response is forcefully written, using dramatic language at some points. One of the main protests made is that the number and identity of witnesses has not been disclosed to Armstrong’s legal team. “Though USADA claims it has collected at least ten witnesses to these events, it refuses to name a single one or even to identify what they will say,” writes Luskin.

Luskin is seeking the names of those riders, and also details of what they have stated. A separate letter sent on June 15th said that Armstrong’s legal team is also seeking the ‘last known address and contact information of all the cyclists with whom USADA representatives had ‘face to face’ meetings during the course of its investigation,’ as well as the identities and contact details of other witnesses including those who said they saw EPO injections administered.

The most recent letter claims that it needs these details in order to be able to defend against the charges.

In addition to that, it refutes two points made in the charging letter, namely:

‘Representatives of USADA have interviewed Dr. Martial Saugy, Director of the LausanneAnti-Doping Laboratory which analyzed the urine samples from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. Dr. Saugy stated that Lance Armstrong's urine sample results from the 2001Tour of Switzerland were indicative of EPO use. Multiple witnesses have also told USADA that Lance Armstrong told them he had tested positive in 2001 and that the test result had been covered up.

‘Lance Armstrong's doping is further evidenced by the data from blood collections obtained by the UCI from Lance Armstrong in 2009 and 2010. This data is fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.’


Luskins letter refers to a previous interview Saugy gave to the Washington Post, in which he stated ‘it will never be sufficient to say, in fact, it was positive…I will never go in front of a court with that type of thing.’

It also states that USADA is relying on the same blood values that Armstrong had posted on Livestrong.com as the basis for its charges that the blood values from 2009 and 2010 were indicative of doping. It states that USADA has itself stated that these do not reflect a positive test, and that the UCI’s experts had rejected the blood values as evidence of doping.

It claims that USADA has refused to provide any other information, including ‘expert analysis substantiating its unsupported view of these blood values.’

Luskin argues that the USADA review board ‘cannot possibly carry out its obligation to evaluate USADA’s case if USADA refuses to disclose its evidence.’ Because of that, he is requesting the review board to reject the charges.

Many more claims and objections are outlined in the letter, including an excerpt from Floyd Landis’ 2007 book where the now-disqualified 2006 Tour de France winner describes getting a phone call from USADA’s Travis Tygart. That excerpt claims that Tygart told Landis he would get a suspension of less than a year if he gave information on ‘bigger names’ in cycling. Landis interprets this as meaning USADA wanted information on Armstrong, and asserted then that he never saw anything to indicate that Armstrong had doped.

Luskin also alleges that Tygart sat in on interviews conducted by federal investigator Jeff Novitzky, and that the charges against Armstrong and others are repackaged from that.

In general, the communication uses strong and emotive language to portray Armstrong as someone who has been badly wronged by the process, and argues for the case to be dropped.

Responses to claims:

USADA issued a brief statement yesterday to Luskin’s letter. “USADA can confirm that information has been submitted for review by the Anti-Doping Review Board (ADRB), and the ADRB will consider all submissions in accordance with the rules,” it said. “After the ADRB makes its recommendation, if any charges are filed and should a hearing be requested, the merits of any case will be decided by an independent panel of arbitrators separate from USADA through a full and fair legal process in compliance with federal law.

“When we have evidence that a person has doped, we follow established procedures that were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and all Olympic sports organizations. Every person accused has the right to a full public hearing where all of the evidence will be presented to an independent group of arbitrators who ultimately decide the case. The established rules provide full due process and are designed to get to the truth.”

In USADA’s charge letter sent on June 12th, it rejected suggestions that the witness statements were obtained from the federal investigators. “In every instance the conduct described in this letter has only been relied upon by USADA and described in this letter if the witness has confirmed to USADA that the information is based on his or her first hand knowledge.”

At the time that letter was released to the media by persons unknown [USADA has told VeloNation that it did not do so], WADA told this website that USADA had gathered information itself. “It is noted that the proceedings are the result of evidence gathered by USADA under its mandate and does not include evidence obtained by the investigation of the US Department of Justice,” it stated.

The Agency also stood over the process itself. “WADA confirms that the process put into place is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.”

Observations:

Luskin’s letter uses emotive language and in being released to the media, one aim appears to be to shape public opinion about the case in advance of a decision being made by the appeal panel.

That panel will consider the arguments laid out when it decides whether or not the case should proceed. Some topics which are likely to be considered include:

Witness details: In relation to the demand to provide the names and contact details of the witnesses, USADA laid out its reasons for not doing so in the original charging letter. It stated then that anonymity was being preserved at this point in time, but that it was a temporary measure.

‘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. As in every case under the USADA Protocol, should this matter proceed to a hearing USADA will file a complete list of its witnesses at the appropriate time in advance of the arbitration hearing.”

It didn’t state examples of intimidation that had been faced, but one likely example USADA will use is the alleged intimidation of Tyler Hamilton by Armstrong at the Cache Cache restaurant in Aspen.

Blood values: Luskin’s letter states that Armstrong’s blood values were all posted voluntarily by the rider on the internet site Livestrong.com by Armstrong.

At the time of their documentation an anti-doping expert noted to VeloNation that there was no way to verify if the values placed on the site were accurate, saying that any numbers could be placed there. He stressed the need for that data to be verified.

In fact, at the time it was noted that one of the values was placed online and later changed; for February 4th 2009, a value of 45.8 was noted for Armstrong’s haematocrit, a full three percent higher than the next-highest value. Soon afterwards that was modified online to 43.1 percent, dropping it 2.7 points. An anti-doping expert said that the revised value was incorrect, as the off-score (a mathematical calculation using haemoglobin and reticulocyte levels) was wrong.

Luskin also argues that the UCI didn’t act on the blood values. At this point in time, it’s impossible to know if USADA is indeed relying on these same values, given that it does its own testing. It’s also worth noting that the UCI itself has been accused by Landis, Tyler Hamilton and others of improper behaviour in relation to Armstrong, specifically in relation to an alleged positive test during the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

At the time anti-doping experts Jakob Morkeberg and Bo Belhage told this writer that Armstrong’s blood values warranted more scrutiny as they did not follow the expected pattern in places.

Landis book extract:
The extract from Positively False is used to portray Travis and USADA as having a vendetta against Armstrong, with Landis’ quotes serving to show that there was an agenda back in 2007 to try to find Armstrong guilty of doping.

Just over two years ago Lance Armstrong was blasting Floyd Landis, saying that his former team-mate had no credibility, and that statements in the book he wrote were very different to what he was then saying about the team.

“Obviously everybody has questions about Floyd Landis and his allegations. I would say that I’m a little surprised, but I am not,” he told the media at the Amgen Tour of California.

“I would remind everybody that this is a man that has been under oath several times, and had a very different version. This is a man who wrote a book for profit that had a completely different version. This is somebody that took some would say close to one million dollars from innocent people for his defence under a different premise.

"We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from. It's our word against his word," Armstrong said . "I like our word. We like our credibility."

Ironically, two years later, Landis’ written words are part of Armstrong’s stated defence against what Landis himself and others have said happened on the team.

USADA’s Appeal Panel will weigh up the fact that those words are now forming part of Armstrong’s argument that the case has no basis. Once a ruling is issued, it will be clear if the charges will proceed and the USADA action will continue.

      comments




Subscribe via RSS or daily email

WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
  Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy  Copyright 2008-2013 by VeloNation LLC