John McCain gives his backing to USADA after congressman questions Armstrong investigation
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Friday, July 13, 2012

John McCain gives his backing to USADA after congressman questions Armstrong investigation

by Shane Stokes at 6:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Former presidential candidate says USADA’s process is ‘proper forum’ for case

USADAYesterday US congressman Jim Sensenbrenner demanded answers from the Office of Drug Control Policy, saying that he wanted justification for USADA’s investigation into Lance Armstrong.

Today, USADA got some high profile support from elsewhere in the political system when US senator and former presidential candidate John McCain issued a statement backing that investigation, saying that all athletes regardless of their profile or success are under the jurisdiction of USADA.

“While the charges are serious, and I expect the process to be fair, I fully support USADA and its right to undertake the investigation of, and bring charges against, Lance Armstrong,” he wrote in a statement. “USADA is authorized by Congress and provides assurances to taxpayers, fans and competitors that sports in America are clean. USADA’s rules and processes, approved by America’s athletes, the United States Olympic Committee and all U.S. sport federations, apply to all athletes regardless of their public profile or success in sport.

“This process is the proper forum to decide matters concerning individual cases of alleged doping violations.”

Sensenbrenner, who represents the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin, raised what he outlined were concerns with the investigation. The language of those complaints closely mirrored that used by Armstrong’s legal team in previous documents.

Amongst the claims made by Sensenbrenner is that “USADA seeks to strip Armstrong of his achievements and the substantial winnings that accompanied them without offering him even basic due process.” He claimed that USADA's authority over Armstrong "is strained at best,” although USADA is the body charged with overseeing anti-doping in the US.

Trek Bicycles, which is also based in Wisconsin, received a large number of messages to its Twitter account afterwards, with messages accusing the company of seeking Sensenbrenner’s assistance in the matter. Armstrong has close ties to the company.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart issued a message yesterday in response to Sensenbrenner’s claims. He acknowledged that the Texan has political support from some, but said that policing of sport must be allowed to take place.

“The case against all those involved in the USPS Pro-Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy, including Lance Armstrong was not brought lightly. 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,” he stated. “They rightly depend upon USADA to ensure that no matter how famous or anonymous, we will treat each alleged offender the same.”

He sought to justify the specific action against the multiple Tour winner, saying that procedures begin when the case is strong enough to do so. “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.”

He said that WADA was willing to meet Sensenbreener to explain the process to him, and also to talk about its funding and the oversight provided by the ONDCP.

“USADA is an open and transparent organization and welcomes to opportunity to fully address the Congressman’s inquiry,” he concluded.

Armstrong has taken a federal case to try to stop the USADA charges. The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in his home town of Austin is currently studying the complaint.

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