In a new turn in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s case against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, the agency is pushing back against an apparent move by the UCI to invoke jurisdiction in the investigation.
The New York Daily News reported on Friday that the UCI had requested that USADA hand over all documents related to the Armstrong investigation. A UCI letter dated July 13 was attached to a brief that USADA filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas.
In that letter, UCI president Pat McQuaid informed USADA that, “The UCI wants that the whole case file with all the evidence is assessed by an independent panel who shall then decide if the respondents have a case to answer.”
USADA responded with its own letter, also attached to the August 3 brief, in which general counsel Bill Bock wrote that, “Many could legitimately contend that UCI’s involvement in the results management of the case would suffer from a structural concern sometimes referred to colloquially as ‘the fox guarding the henhouse.’
“In numerous instances the inability of a sports organization to effectively police doping within its sport has been noted.”
In the letter, Bock also wrote that the UCI had “adopt(ed) some of the arguments now being advanced by Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers and public relations consultants.”
A significant portion of the evidence cited by USADA in its June 12 charging letter against Armstrong and five others is understood to rely on blood values gathered during the Texan’s most recent comeback, which included third place in the 2009 Tour de France.
When contacted by VeloNews for comment on Friday, USADA chief Travis Tygart’s office responded with this statement:
“The USPS doping conspiracy was going on under the watch of UCI, so of course UCI and the participants in the conspiracy who cheated sport with dangerous performance enhancing drugs to win have a strong incentive to cover up what transpired. The participants in the conspiracy have lashed out in the press, gone to Congress and filed a lawsuit to avoid a public display of the evidence before neutral judges. Efforts to intimidate, scare or pressure us to conceal the truth will not stop us from doing the job we are mandated to do on behalf of clean athletes and the integrity of all sport. The participants of the USPS doping conspiracy made their decisions to use dangerous banned drugs to win and our job is to apply the rules whether someone is famous or anonymous and we will do that on behalf of the millions of people who demand clean sport despite these external pressures.”
Armstrong faces an August 13 deadline to respond to the USADA allegations. At that point, he can accept what could be up to a lifetime ban — the sanction handed three others in the case last month — or request arbitration, as his longtime team manager Johan Bruyneel has done.
On July 10, the Texan filed suit in the Austin District Court seeking to challenge USADA on the constitutionality of the agency’s sanctioning process.