Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Lance Armstrong Case: Pride & Prejudice

The latest developments in the Lance Armstrong case demonstrate, once again, the perennial battle between the rights of the individual athlete and those of the sport. Although the argument has been fully analysed already elsewhere in this blog, the question remains as to whether self-regulation has now exceeded its boundaries and limitations at the expense of another sporting icon: Lance Armstrong. 

It is not our purpose to examine here the jurisdictional and contractual implications of USADA's decision to  strip Lance Armstrong of his titles and possibly [in the near future] his medals. Such analysis may form the basis of a possible action before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It is our intention, however, to inform our readers of the politics behind the scenes and the reasons as to why Lance Armstrong decided not to contest the allegations. 

K. Kenteris: 200m Sydney Olympic gold
We are in a position to appreciate why Lance Armstrong has little faith in self-regulation and loathes the lack of independence and transparency in the decision making process. The undersigned faced exactly the same situation when he acted as counsel for the two Greek sprinters, Kenteris and Thanou, before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in the period of 2004-2006. Although the sprinters successfully negotiated an out-of-court settlement with the IAAF and therefore, avoided possible bans, return of medals and prize money, it can be argued that both of them, were emotionally and financially exhausted after the conclusion of this matter. Kenteris refused to continue with any further legal battles and Thanou continued to face the wrath of the IOC, who after failing to secure the allegations before CAS, it decided not to allow her to participate in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and not to  award her with the gold medal returned by Marion Jones. Although both Kenteris and Thanou were later also cleared by the Greek criminal court, they both decided to put an end to any further legal battles and focus on their families. 
K. Thanou: 100m Sydney Olympic Silver
Similarly, Lance Armstrong is well justified to say that he no longer wishes to continue with this unnecessary and unfair attempt by USADA to demonstrate to the world that it cares about the sport. We are convinced that it is not Lance Armstrong who brought the sport into disrepute, but USADA itself. Having the financial muscle and the backing of its parent body WADA, it rules and decides in an autocratic manner, similar to the one the undersigned experienced with the IOC, in the Greek Sprinters case. Lance Armstrong is well justified to put an end to this ordeal and concentrate on his family and his health. 

Lance Armstrong
The decision by Lance Armstrong not to contest the allegations comes as no surprise to the undersigned. Similarly, our readers must keep an open mind and consider very seriously the example, above, with the two Greek sprinters. Lance Armstrong has already won this battle in the eyes of the world. His silence does not indicate guilt, but a loud protest against the corrupt system that rules sport. USADA's decision to introduce allegations that relate to alleged incidents that may have occurred 14 years ago, not only violates several procedural rights afforded to Lance Armstrong, but it offends against fairness and justice in sport. Lance Armstrong is well justified to ignore such allegations, who are the product of an ill-founded desire to exercise and exert power over an athlete, who served the sport without evidence of malpractice and continues to serve humanity, by assisting tremendously in a noble and sacred cause. 

We shall observe privacy and confidentiality, until the final conclusion of this matter. But we promise to offer our readers with a further insight into the politics and dirty dealings behind the scenes. Those who are prosecutors and judges simultaneously, must accept that self-regulation does not always enjoy immunisation from judicial intervention. Good justice derives from good evidence and such evidence is yet to be produced and evaluated. The reliability of the testimonies produced in court, could only be valid if the proximity, relevance and probity of their evidence, comes from a witness who does not have a conflict of interest in the case. If I were to produce a testimony in court, that sporting governing bodies selectively prosecute athletes, would the court in question find my testimony reliable? Think about it....

Dr. Gregory Ioannidis
25 August 2012


  1. You have mentioned Armstrong lots but there's no mention that the case is actually about six people linked to the US Postal team (later called Discovery).

    Armstrong is just one of those accused. The others are team managers, doctors, coaches and trainers.

    I can see why Armstrong gets the attention as he's a really famous guy. Perhaps you don't know cycling very well? But it would be good to look at the full case here instead of getting too caught up by a celebrity.

  2. Dear Geoff

    Thank you for your comment. I am familiar with the case and the sport of Cycling. However, this is not a forum where evidential issues could be discussed. I can tell you there are a lot more than 6 people involved, but any reference to them, at this point in time, would jeopardise the fair and transparent process. All in good time.

  3. Well Greg I was shocked by your news, but now having reflected upon it I can appreciate that LA or somebody in a similar position could become overwhelmed fighting battles over the past and battling against burden/standards of proof which place him continually at a disadvantage. Nonetheless I for one would have liked to see this battle waged to the bitter end. I would like to have challenged the so called rider evidence. Cycling really has got itself into a tangle. Who are the just and who shall be vindicated? Arbitrary? By the way I am back and so ready to rumble!

    1. Thanks Phil. Unfortunately people fail to appreciate that this is not about the substance of the allegations, but about whether sporting bodies follow their rules and procedures. If Armstrong is guilty, let the appropriate forums decide, after careful consideration of the evidence. But USADA is not the appropriate forum, especially when it comes down t osanctions regarding an athlete of an international dimension.

    2. Which is the appropriate forum, in your opinion?

    3. The one that follows procedure. Any allegations must be put before UCI's independent panel and if there is a need for further appeal, then before the CAS.