The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency case against cyclist Lance Armstrong is a mere publicity stunt that the anti-drugs regulator cannot back up with conclusive evidence, the seven-time Tour de France winner’s attorney wrote in a letter to the agency this week.
“USADA is still trying to create evidence and put it in the file,” attorney Tim Herman wrote. “Armstrong has been selectively singled out, prosecuted and treated differently than any other athlete, no doubt so that USADA can cash in on the publicity.”
Agency spokeswoman Annie Skinner brushed aside the critique.
“We are happy to let the evidence speak for itself,” she said in an email to California Watch.
In February, the U.S. attorney’s office abandoned its 20-month investigation into allegations that Armstrong had led a doping ring involving banned steroids and blood transfusions.
The anti-doping agency's CEO, Travis Tygart, followed up with his own investigation, ultimately recommending that Armstrong be banned from professional cycling for life and have his tour titles yanked. Armstrong’s legal team launched a failed challenge to the agency’s jurisdiction in a federal court in Austin, Texas.
This week, the agency is expected to release the doping-world equivalent of a legal complaint – known as a “reasoned decision” – containing evidence of what the agency claims was a 14-year doping conspiracy.
In today’s letter, Herman repeated arguments from his federal challenge with trademark brio, calling the case a “taxpayer-funded witch hunt” and suggesting that Tygart’s case would be built upon sand.
Testimony against Armstrong was obtained in exchange for “threats, promises, reductions in sanctions and agreements that dramatically reduced suspensions,” Herman wrote. “But since USADA is now free to not only manufacture, but to interpret and characterize the alleged evidence as it wishes, USADA’s ‘reasoned decision’ will be devoid of impartiality or fairness and cannot be reasoned.”
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This story was produced by California Watch, a part of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. Learn more at www.californiawatch.org.