A one-sided view of the Lance Armstrong case
by Robert S. Weiner, in Free For All, The Washington Post, September 1, 2012
The Post is clearly in denial about Lance Armstrong. In two Aug. 25 Sports columns, by Tracee Hamilton ["Vicious circle leaves no winners"] and Sally Jenkins ["USADA's campaign is far from fair"], and a front-page article by Rick Maese ["Despite ban, Armstrong's impact could live on"], the words "masking agent" never appeared. Yet all three articles assert that Armstrong tested clean in hundreds of tests. None of the three articles references that the use of masking agents - drugs used to hide specifically banned drugs - is included in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) justification for its action concerning Armstrong. Masking agents are themselves banned but are almost impossible to detect.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and USADA recognize that the science must catch up to the cheaters and, understanding that limitation and knowing they have missed large numbers of cheaters in the past, now use a new strategy - the same one that unearthed Marion Jones' cheating despite her similar years of false claims of innocence: collecting collateral evidence and testimony, not just using the testing. That is a relatively new development. Anyone who watches the myriad "Law & Orders" knows that this is the same circumstantial evidentiary process used by all law enforcement agencies.
In addition, the articles make the more than 10 witnesses who testified to investigators and were prepared to give open testimony seem like they are criminals making things up in a room together, concocting the same story. Quite the contrary, they were all interviewed independently. Their testimony established clear pattern-and-practice by Armstrong. Unless Hamilton, Jenkins and Maese are asserting all 10 were repeatedly independently conspiring to commit prosecutable perjury, the evidence is persuasive.
With Armstrong's money and legal resources, he is one of the few who could actually challenge the USADA. His giving up means he did so because there was unstoppable truth and he knew he would be embarrassed and outed.
In addition, a federal court refused to give Armstrong an injunction against the USADA proceeding three days earlier despite his arguments - so he could not win in that venue either.
The Post totally missed with these one-sided commentaries. Armstrong's ban is a sad but huge victory for clean sport, and for WADA's and USADA's mission to end drug cheating and to assure youth that they will have an even playing field without drugs determining the champion.
The real victors in Armstrong's concession are children who can believe that even the most famous athletes can get caught if they cheat.
Robert S. Weiner, Accokeek
The writer was spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 1995 to 2001 and the 2002 Olympics spokesman for the World Anti-Doping Agency. He assisted in the creation of WADA and USADA.