Had Floyd Landis’ arbitration been handled by the American judicial system, the 2006 winner of the Tour de France would have red hair. Put another way, were logic the overriding principle used for deciding the arbitration outcome, the matter would be settled once and for all. Unfortunately, the arbitrators managed to set aside their own concerns and find in favor of USADA.
In the American court system, material found in an illegal search is disallowed in court proceedings. So if the basis of a search is found to be logically flawed, the search is thrown out. The arbitrators struck down the initial adverse T/E result, saying it DID NOT meet the requirement for a positive test.
That bears repeating. In the initial test that started this process, the arbitrators found that Floyd Landis did not test positive. Logically, if the initial test was not positive, there should not be grounds for the flawed IRMS test that USADA claims shows Landis used exogenous testosterone.
Equally disturbing is the arbitrators’ threat that if similar procedural errors such as those that were demonstrated during the Landis hearing were to continue, they might dismiss such a case. “The Panel finds that the practises of the Lab in training its employees appears to lack the vigor the Panel would expect in the circumstances given the enormous consequences to athletes.” That is the most serious indictment of the testing process ever offered by a sympathetic party. And yet, the majority wrote, “If such practices continue, it may well be that in the future, an error like this could result in the dismissal” of the case against the athlete.
Hello? How could errors dismissed in this case be considered substantive enough to derail a case in the future? The fix is in. The arbitrators have effectively said, “Okay, we’ll let you slide this time, but don’t embarrass us or yourselves again.” It is further demonstration that this process has been a kangaroo court meant to satisfy a political agenda rather than a judicial process meant to uncover the truth. No reasonable person can come to the conclusion that justice has been served if substandard lab work can result in two different findings on two different days. That’s not justice, that’s mercy; only mercy isn’t generally granted to the prosecution.
If LNDD’s (Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage / National Anti-doping Laboratory) work ethic will be deemed unacceptable in the future, then it is unacceptable today. And if it is unacceptable today, then a miscarriage of justice has been served.
One cannot be surprised that the arbitrator chosen by Landis’ team, Christopher Campbell, found in favor of Landis. He was supposed to be sympathetic. However, strenuous dissent deserves the light of day. Campbell wrote: "The documents supplied by LNDD are so filled with errors that they do not support an Adverse Analytical Finding. Mr. Landis should be found innocent." He went on to point out a larger problem of competence: "If the LNDD couldn't get the T-E ratio test right, how can a person have any confidence that LNDD got the much more complicated IRMS test correct?"
Here’s the scary part. This process shows that labs are allowed to execute the shoddiest of work in order to get some sort of positive test. Once they achieve that result, they can then begin a fishing expedition employing all means necessary (including character assassination) in order to prove their case.
One last question: Would you want to be a pro cyclist right now?
Photo courtesy: msnbc