By Neal Rogers
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency faces a lawsuit claiming that it overstepped its own rules by intending to test a cyclist’s B urine sample after the A-sample test came back negative.
Associated Press sportswriter Eddie Pells reported Thursday that an anonymous professional cyclist has filed a lawsuit against USADA on behalf of “John Doe,” seeking an injunction to prevent the anti-doping agency from ever testing the B sample.
The 25-page lawsuit, filed on January 23 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, reportedly claims that USADA originally planned to test the B sample on January 15, but backtracked after the plaintiff’s attorneys demanded that the agency drop the second test.
AP reported that the plaintiff’s name was withheld in the lawsuit document, which lists the anonymous rider’s attorneys as Maurice Suh and Howard Jacobs, who are also representing 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis in his doping-case defense.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court clerk was unable to locate the case Friday afternoon, and USADA general counsel Bill Bock told VeloNews that USADA had not yet officially been served with a copy of the lawsuit. Suh did not immediately respond to messages left by VeloNews asking for comment.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of the news that AEG Sports, organizer of the Amgen Tour of California, will seek to bar any rider with an open anti-doping case from racing. The lawsuit claims that by telling race organizers and the UCLA testing lab that the plaintiff is under investigation, USADA has damaged the cyclist’s reputation and ability to compete in races and secure sponsors.
The California race is the first event to have the cooperation of USADA, which has agreed to use USA Cycling as a go-between to tell race organizers whether any riders on team rosters facing ongoing anti-doping inquiries.
AEG director of communications Michael Roth told VeloNews that all team rosters were due Friday, and that it was premature to draw any conclusions as to whether the anonymous rider intended to race the Tour of California.
“The rosters are due today, so we would have no idea,” Roth said. “We are expecting all teams to submit appropriate riders.”
AP reported that the lawsuit claims that USADA directed the UCLA lab to retest the B sample after the A sample came back negative, “thereby violating the applicable rules and regulations governing anti-doping control and testing.”
While unable to comment on open anti-doping cases, Bock told VeloNews that the testing of a B sample after a negative A sample “is not prohibited, and certainly we believe it to be permissible.”
Bock also referred to WADA code provisions stating that anti-doping rule violations can exist without a positive drug test.
“Use of a prohibited substance can be proven without a positive,” Bock said. “An admission is a case that doesn’t involve a positive. Trafficking in prohibited substances, administration of a prohibited substance, evasion of a doping control, refusal to test — these are all anti-doping violations that do not involve a positive drug test.”
Use of prohibited substances can also be determined through third-party testimony or other evidence.
Speaking with AP, Bock called the anonymous lawsuit “utterly frivolous and morally bankrupt,” adding, “What are they seeking to hide?”