Armstrong/USPS investigation: Federal Judge Sparks hears arguments, delays ruling
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Armstrong/USPS investigation: Federal Judge Sparks hears arguments, delays ruling

by Shane Stokes at 7:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
One week extension handed down; McQuaid defends UCI position and criticises WADA

Lance ArmstrongTexas judge Sam Sparks has delayed his ruling on the Lance Armstrong vs USADA federal case, hearing from lawyers on both sides on Friday but telling them he would give them an additional week to file more legal documents to support their respective positions.

Sparks had tough questions for both sides, asking Armstrong’s attorney to explain why USADA should not have jurisdiction – something the agency has maintained from the beginning – while also asking USADA why it had not provided more details of the evidence it had gathered.

The Agency explained that it had limited disclosure at this point as it believed that there exists a real threat of witness intimidation. A substantial part of its evidence is understood to be in the form of sworn witness testimony.

Armstrong was accused in June of using a range of banned substances and methods during his career, as well as encouraging others to do so. He and five others were also charged with other offences; of those, doctors Michele Ferrari and Luis Garcia Del Moral have been handed lifetime bans after they failed to respond to the charges; the other three, namely former US Postal Service team manager Johan Bruyneel, doctor Pedro Celaya and former team trainer Pepe Marti have opted for arbitration.

Armstrong has taken a different route, challenging USADA’s jurisdiction in Sparks’ federal court. He claims that the UCI should be the one to examine the case. Some of the witnesses have accused that same international federation of protecting Armstrong during his career, including accepting bribes to cover up an alleged positive test in the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

The UCI denies this and, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, is acting to obstruct the USADA charges.

USADA and McQuaid speak:

USADA’s CEO Travis Tygart released a brief statement after Friday’s hearing. “As we said in court today, Mr. Armstrong agreed to play by the same rules that apply to every other athlete and we believe he should not be allowed to create a new set of rules that apply only to him,” he said.

“The rules already in place have protected the rights of millions of clean athletes both famous and anonymous for more than a decade and were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee and all U.S. sport federations. From the beginning our investigation has been about ridding sport from anyone in the system that uses their power or influence to encourage or assist athletes in using dangerous performance-enhancing drugs.

“Every alleged offender is innocent unless and until proven otherwise through the established procedures which are Congressionally mandated to provide full due process, including the right to a public hearing where the evidence is presented, witness testimony is given under oath and subject to cross examination, and an independent panel of arbitrators determines the outcome of the case. We respect the federal court process and will await the judge’s decision.”

McQuaid commented on the case prior to the end of the hearing, giving a press conference at the Olympic Games in London.

He said that USADA had "no respect for the rules and principles of due process.” He denied seeking to protect Armstrong, stating "the UCI confirms that it has never intended to stop investigations or to make any obstruction, but only to ensure the regularity of the basic procedure.”

McQuaid is a member of WADA’s executive committee but looks to be on a collision course with the agency. Its director general David Howman said on Thursday that he wanted McQuaid and the UCI to co-operate with USADA, and warned that its current refusal to do so was damaging.

“By adopting its current position UCI is sadly destroying the credibility it has slowly been regaining in the past years in the fight against doping,” he said.

In response, McQuaid said on Friday that WADA was biased. “Over the last ten to fifteen years there has been a political campaign against cycling by senior people within WADA,” he claimed. In doing so, he likely furthered the rift with the agency.

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