As you know, I don’t care much about sports, but the Washington Post sportswriter Sally Jenkins is one of the few writers (Buzz Bissinger is another) who writes about sports in a way that makes me care. She believes that Lance Armstrong might be guilty of doping, but that the deck was massively stacked against him. Excerpt:
Quite independently of Lance, with whom I wrote two books, for a long, long time I’ve had serious doubts about the motives, efficiency and wisdom of these “doping” investigations. In the Balco affair, all the wrong people were prosecuted. It’s the only so-called drug investigation in which the manufacturers and the distributors were given plea deals in order to throw the book at the users. What that told us was that it was big-game hunting, not justice. It was careerist investigators trying to put athletes’ antlers on their walls. Meanwhile, the Fourth Amendment became a muddy, stomped-on, kicked-aside doormat.
So forget Lance. I have so many problems with USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) — which is supposed to be where athletes can appeal, only they never, ever win — that it’s hard to know where to begin. American athletes have lost 58 of 60 cases before the CAS. Would you want to go before that court?
Anyone who thinks an athlete has a fair shot in front of CAS should review the Alberto Contador case. Contador was found to have a minuscule, insignificant amount of clenbuterol in his urine during the 2010 Tour de France. After hearing 4,000 pages of testimony and debate, CAS acknowledged that the substance was too small to have been performance-enhancing and that its ingestion was almost certainly unintentional.
Therefore he was guilty. He received a two-year ban.
CAS’s rationale? “There is no reason to exonerate the athlete so the ban is two years,” one member of the panel said.
Would you want to go before that court?
How does an agency that is supposed to regulate drug testing strip a guy of seven titles without a single positive drug test? Whether Armstrong is innocent or guilty, that question should give all of us pause.
I see her point.