The attached letters between USADA and Lance Armstrong’s legal team are the first formal step in the anti-doping prosecution by USADA. The process will be, potentially, the most important case to date due to  the athlete involved, but equally, the most important to date “non-analytical positive” (prosecution of an anti-doping violation in the absence of a failed test).

Lance’s response to USADA’s charging letter, the initial step prior to the review board process (an athlete protection mechanism designed to require USADA to establish a sufficient basis for the process to proceed to a hearing) was generally as follows:
1. USADA fails to disclose the proposed witnesses or their evidence, Armstrong is unable to know/answer the charges made against him. USADA is treating the review board as a rubber stamp, effectively seeking to deny Armstrong the protection of that review board process.
2. USADA has obtained evidence wrongly, in trading concessions/reduced penalties, etc, (the “jailhouse snitch”argument), for evidence, and in obtaining evidence leaked from the now-discontinued grand jury process.
3. The only 2 identifiable claims against Armstrong (the Swiss lab tests from 2001 where the lab director has since denied the tests were sufficient to found a violation, and USADA providing, raw data only, no expert analysis, 2009/2010 blood test results, which show no abnormality and which were published on Armstrong’s own website at the time as proof of the opposite) have no merit.
4. Most of the material is outside the 8 year limitation period.

USADA, conversely, says that it has ten-plus witnesses, who will say that Armstrong doped, trafficked, and participated in a conspiracy.

The process is likely, in my view, to showcase the critical justice issues that are thrown up in this key area of “non-analytical positives”. The likelihood is that Lance will challenge, in the USA courts, the level of acceptable proof against an athlete charged on the basis of evidence, not including a failed test, and the USADA/Court of Arbitration for Sport regime generally.

About time.

John McMullan