Some observations by USADA on the required standard of proof in the case against Lance Armstrong
On 10 October USADA published a Report on Proceedings and a Reasoned Decision in the case of USADA against the cyclist Lance Armstrong. Bringing evidence from various sources, USADA also dealt with the issue of the sufficiency and reliability of evidence.
On 10 October 2012 the United States Anti-Doping Agency published a Report on Proceedings in the case of USADA against the cyclist Lance Armstrong. In this Report, USADA ‘found proof beyond a reasonable doubt […] that Armstrong participated in running the U.S. Postal Service Team as a doping conspiracy’.
The Report contains a Reasoned Decision to the effect ‘that Lance Armstrong violated the applicable anti-doping rules, that his competitive results achieved since August 1, 1998, should be, and are, disqualified and that he is properly and appropriately ruled ineligible for life’. USADA would have brought the evidence against Lance Armstrong in a hearing before neutral arbitrators first, but Lance Armstrong refused to take part in such proceedings. Therefore, USADA drew up the Report on the basis of its investigation alone. The Report holds several observations of a general nature on the way USADA argues that there is sufficient proof against Lance Armstrong. Three of these are outlined here.
On the fact that Lance Armstrong had not made use of the opportunity of the case against him being heard by an arbitration panel, USADA considered that ‘Armstrong’s refusal to testify and his refusal to confront the evidence against him leads to a strong inference that Armstrong doped exactly as charged by USADA’.
Taking into consideration that the USPS team had made use of a drug courier, USADA considered: ‘The fact that the cycling team, of which Armstrong was a part owner and over which he had extensive control over the selection and retention of employees, employed a drug courier […] corroborates USADA’s substantial direct evidence of Lance Armstrong’s doping and strongly supports the conclusion that Lance Armstrong engaged in doping as charged by USADA’.
And on the reliability of witness statements from cyclists who themselves had initially denied the use of doping, USADA considered: ‘It is the case […] that nearly every rider who has used drugs has, when initially confronted, denied such use. […] It is regularly acknowledged in both civil and criminal cases that a witness’s own wrongful, and even criminal, conduct does not necessarily render that witness’s testimony unreliable or unusable’.
When applied more widely, the finding of evidence on the basis of considerations like these allows investigators to conclude that anti-doping rules were violated even if other (physical) proof is absent or meager. Sports competitors, both nationally and internationally, should take that seriously into account. Texts can be found here.