California senators call for congressional review of USADA

Democrats and Republicans ask that congress scrutinize the operations and finances of USADA after Armstrong case

A group of California state senators has asked that state’s two U.S. senators to request a review of the U.S. Anti-doping Agency, USA Today reported Tuesday night. The request follows USADA’s decision to hand Lance Armstrong a lifetime ban after he refused arbitration in the U.S. Postal Service conspiracy case last month.

Twenty-three state senators sent a letter, addressed from senator Michael J. Rubio’s office, on Tuesday to U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. In the letter, the state senators, “respectfully request that (Feinstein and Boxer) call upon (that office) and the appropriate oversight committees of the United States Congress to develop appropriate constitutional protections and conduct a comprehensive review of USADA’s operations and finances, with special attention to USADA’s unilateral changes in rules for dealing with athletes who have never failed a drug test.”

Wisconsin representative Jim Sensenbrenner requested a congressional review of USADA in early July, prior to Armstrong’s sanction.

The letter does not mention Armstrong by name, but does come nearly two weeks after the Texan accepted USADA’s sanction, claiming that the odds were stacked too high against him to continue his fight against charges that he and five others, including manager Johan Bruyneel, executed a wide-ranging conspiracy to use, distribute and cover-up doping products and procedures between 1998 and 2010. Armstrong had never been sanctioned previously for a failed doping test. VeloNews understands that evidence in USADA’s case file includes that of an alleged failed test at the 2001 Tour de Suisse and a collection of samples from the 1999 Tour de France that retroactively tested positive for EPO. Armstrong is the second high-profile athlete, along with track sprinter Marion Jones, to face USADA sanction without having registered an official positive test. Armstrong did fail a test for cortisone during the 1999 Tour de France, but produced a Therapeutic Use Exemption after the test.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court to block USADA, Armstrong claimed that the agency violates athletes’ rights to due process. When judge Sam Sparks dropped the suit, siding with but chastising USADA, Armstrong was forced to respond to the investigation.

Editor’s Note: This story originally listed 2011 as the year that Armstrong’s alleged failed doping test at the Tour de Suisse. This should have read 2001. We regret the error.