10 Thoughts on “the Lance case” – part 1

June 29, 2012

Much has been said already about the latest action against Lance Armstrong, this time by USADA. My 10 thoughts are split in two parts, the second part follows Monday:

  1. USADA is aiming very high with statements about data “fully consistent with EPO and/or blood doping”. I think data is rarely that clear-cut.
  2. Lance’s people are aiming quite high too, going for the “same liars telling the same lies” defense when it is clear there must be new people and new stories to the USADA approach – assuming there are indeed ten witness statements.
  3. I would think any case against Lance will be difficult. Having ten witness statements of the type that “Lance told me …” or “I saw Lance and doctor X do …” isn’t really that strong, without corroborating evidence.
  4. On top of that, Lance could bankrupt any agency that takes him on. That’s the irony of modern pro sports, the top athletes are a lot wealthier than the organizations policing them. Think about it, WADA’s excess of income over expenses, cummulative, is about 22M USD. Some athletes make that in a year.
  5. On the other side, any statements by the anti-doping laboratory that they were pressured to suppress a positive test by Lance in the Tour de Suisse would potentially be a lot more damaging – this person would have been directly involved in the exchanges. But of course right now it’s only hearsay that such statements even exist.

27 Responses to “10 Thoughts on “the Lance case” – part 1”

  1. Andy Graham Says:

    Witness statements by someone saying they saw something or heard someone say something are not hearsay. If the witness states that they heard someone say that someone else told them something, that is hearsay. Big difference. Other than that, interesting points. lets just say it was hearsay, do the normal rules of hearsay apply in a non criminal tribunal like USADA, remember, it’s not a court and the same rules of evidence do not apply.

    • I cut a corner there a bit, you’re right. And it’s true that USADA is not a court, and even if appealed to CAS you’re not sitting in front of judges. It’s the part I really dislike about the current system, the process after an action is initiated is so fraught with issues that athletes can legitimately cry foul.

      So in the end it doesn’t help anybody, not the athlete who may be wrongfully convicted, nor the anti-doping agencies whose “wins” will be questioned.

  2. Greg Says:

    It’s not hearsay. Look up the definition!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    “Lance told me …” = hearsay.

    “I saw Lance and doctor X do …” = not hearsay.

    • Andy Graham Says:

      Even that is not correct, someone directly telling you something is not hearsay, if they tell you that they heard someone else say it, that is hearsay

      • Matt Runge Says:

        An out of court statement made by the declarant used to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

  4. Specialist Says:

    Direct witness testimony is not hearsay.
    “Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience”

  5. racepace Says:

    Just wish it would all go away! not good for the sport… We need to draw a line under it all and start a fresh from now…

    Anyone caught from now on that’s it, your out, whether they are caught at the time or retrospectively within 3 years of the crime against fair play. We all know what is legal and what isn’t, we would also know that new technology could be applied within a 3 year period so it would be an extra deterrant to stop dopers.

    I don’t think we can possibly ever know the truth about Lance…

    I would like to know why Serena Williams was never tested when she was out of competition injured though?? DOesn’t seem to be a fair playing field across all sports?

    • Greg Says:

      Wrong. This IS good for the sport.
      I actually enjoy watching races like le Tour again because it’s not 8 doped up super-doms pulling a mega-doped dude up a mountain.

      • racepace Says:

        You missed my point entirely, the sport is better off now for sure.

        These recurring calls for banning previous winners from the major tours is very bad for the sport, it is making finding sponsors to keep the big teams going so much more difficult, who wants to be associated with a doper? It this that I feel we have to draw a line under and start from now…

        • But why is finding sponsors good for the sport? Isn’t it the big money that makes sophisticated cheating possible? Plenty of amateurs cheat (see Masters cycling) but the real level of sophistication can only happen when there is money to be made).

  6. Don Says:

    It is not singular witness statements that are a concern but their collectivity in drawing a picture and details of a broad conspiracy. That is the damning evidence.

    In developing the conspiracy, it goes beyond Lance and individual actions to include ownership, management, support staff and leadership. In this way, it is less about Lance as an athlete but Lance as part owner and leader of the team. It is about the team structure that supports a doping culture. It is also about people who are still engaged professionally in cycling.

    The charges are not narrowly focused on did he or did he not but are broad and include trafficking, aiding, abetting and concealing among other things.

  7. MB Says:

    “Levi told me X about Lance” as evidence of Lance doing X is hearsay. However, “I saw Lance and doctor X do Y” is not at all hearsay. It’s eyewitness testimony, and is, indeed, very good evidence of Y. Sure, some eyewitness testimony is better than others (say, Hincapie’s over Landis’), but it should not be simply dismissed as “hearsay.”

    It’s an important distinction that seems to be lost in a lot of conversations about evidence.

  8. Skater Says:

    Where Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton have gone public with “we were blood brother and testosterone mates with Lance, bought it for and he taught us how to shoot up”, USADA picked at least 8 more riders with the same statements from the FED testimonies, and asked them again. All US riders too, I presume.
    At least 8 lined themselves up with the story that Landis and Hamilton introduced. Now there is 10 of them with one version, and just Lance, Johan and his docs denying it ever happened in any way, form, or time.
    However, those 10 all were under oath when telling the FEDs what they know. And have a lot to lose lying to USADA as well. One snitch is enough. One picture, one phone recording. By now they all know that Landis could have been wearing FED wires from a much earlier date then he’s been letting on. He might have a special photo album which the FEDs told him to keep under the hat until all dust has settled. That part is speculation, the rest seems pretty clear-cut.

    And hey, Lance’s original version of his blood values (he tampered with them in public) show him improving his Hct during the Tour de France. In line with being a freak of nature, or in line with just charging up on fresh blood on rest days?

    • Of course the strength of the 10 statements is also its weakness, as they lined up with public statements made by others. As for USADA asking riders again after sorting through the federal evidence, I don’t think that’s how it happened. USADA was involved from the get-go, I’m pretty sure riders were given immunity from USADA actions for their own misdeeds before testifying to the federal prosecutors, not just immunity from federal actions (most riders wouldn’t have anything to fear from the federal prosecutor anyway).

      • Skater Says:

        Well Gerard, aligning statements with those expressed in the media doesn’t make much sense in the case of the FED testimonies by unnamed riders. The testimonies all happened behind closed doors in a limited time frame, just 2 have told the world on what they told (as long as truthful, allowed to do so). The other 8+ would give up their jobs, friends, and lots of money to follow their example. And, gain a rich enemy. No point. They after all had not been caught red handed yet (apart from Levi’s 3 month ephedrine suspension which everyone likes to forget about).
        Also, making up a story consistent with a media version of a former colleague is not very wise when under oath, especially in the US legal system. You better think for yourself, and share the truth as you know it to be, that’s the best chance to stay out of jail.

      • Joe Papp Says:

        actually the witness-statements-as-evidence aren’t taken from the FDA investigation, but were sourced independently by USADA. (iiic), the feds did not turn over any evidence to USADA that they are using in this case.

        • Maybe I didn’t write it very clearly, but I agree that it wasn’t the USADA sorting through federal evidence and then writing a letter to Lance. They started long before the feds stopped with their own thing (I’m sure you have also heard that some still-active riders received immunity from sporting sanctions in exchange for testimony).

      • Anonymous Says:

        Gerard there is a saying that goes “assumption is the mother of all f$&k ups.”. You have assumed a lot in relation to the evidence and how it was sourced by usada. 30 seconds google time would have shown you that usada sourced it’s own witness statements and did not rely on ANY evidence from the federal probe!

        • That’s what I said, I said I don’t think USADA sorted through the federal evidence. It was the original poster who assumed that.

  9. Specialist Says:

    Oh and about point 1 “fully consistent with EPO and/or blood doping” could mean that knowing the doping plan then it explains the blood values, without those values on their own being enough to prove doping.

  10. ard jan Says:

    dear gerard, I do not see what the problem is with the 10 statements as evidence. In Dutch criminal tribunals even two regular statements can be sufficient for conviction. Even hearsay is under certain conditions allowed and some sort of compensation for statements is also no problem. So, do you want to apply higher standards to this tribunal higher than to criminal procedures? Kind regards ard jan

  11. Evan Shaw Says:

    Like it or not, we know from exonerating falsely convicted innocent people for murder that improper procedures, coerced confessions, corrupt police and DAs and eyewitness testimony especially provided by snitches ARE THE LEADING CAUSE FOR FALSE CONVICTIONS.

    Gerard is correct in reminding us that being zealous either to convict or to exonerate disregards due process and innocent before guilty.

    All that said, I find it ludicrous that Lance, Bruyneel, and the entire organization was innocent. Just my two cents.

    I find Lance to be the worst example of a star athlete. NOT a role model for children. He ignored his cancer. He did not survive the cancer because of his amazing attitude or courage. His message to cancer patients is actually a BLAMING message. If you don’t cure you cancer you did not have the right attitude. His organization gives nothing to cancer research.

    He has made millions by roughing up and trying to ruin others, including Lemond, former team mates, and anyone in his way.

    I refuse to let my opinion to trump my sense of justice for all so I agree with Gerard. Regardless we should not try to convict without proper procedures due process and evidence.

  12. Evan Shaw Says:

    Gerard what if George Hincapie is one of the ten?

    • Skater Says:

      I know that one!
      Disgruntled ex-employee who had expeted more support (business) for his new clothing company. Part of the group of jealous untalented haters out to get him.
      Oh and that time that Lance didn’t allow him to win a TdF stage, by leading the chase.
      What would have p’d me as a team mate off most, is sharing his HemAssist stash before it expired. Hincapie could and should have won a TdF of his own.

    • Well, I am not sure that to USADA it matters too much who makes the statements, but in the court of public opinion I think it would matter a lot if the guy who is seen as the most staunch ally would have made damning statements. But nobody really “knows”, right.

  13. […] 10 Thoughts on “the Lance case” – part 1 « […]

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