Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lex Sportiva Jurisdiction and Lance Armstrong

Yesterday, Lance Armstrong announced that he would not meet with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to testify under oath about doping in cycling. An Armstrong representative explained:
[F]or several reasons, Lance will not participate in Usada’s efforts to selectively conduct American prosecutions that only demonize selected individuals while failing to address the 95 percent of the sport over which Usada has no jurisdiction.
Does this rationale make any sense? In short, no.

USADA is recognized by the US Congress in Section 644 of Public Lay 107-67 as follows (PDF):
The Congress of the United States recognizes the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American, and Paralympic sport in the United States.
That 2002 law was reinforced in 2005 when the US Senate ratified the International Convention Against Doping in Sport. Among the provisions of that treay is the following:
[T]he Convention explicitly allows governments to utilize the efforts of antidoping organization (such as USADA) or other sports authorities and organizations (such as the USOC) to meet any obligations under the Convention.
Which athletes are covered by USADA's jurisdiction?  Again, the treaty ratified by the US Senate provides the answer:
Article 2(4) contains two definitions of  "athlete."' The first is for doping-control purposes and states as follows: "Athlete means . . . any person who participates in sport at the international or national level as defined by each national anti-doping organization and accepted by States Parties and any additional person who participates in a sport or event at a lower level accepted by States Parties.'' For the United States, USADA is the national anti-doping organization and thus, the term "athlete'' for purposes of doping control in the United States means any athlete who is determined by USADA to be subject to or to have accepted the World Anti-Doping Code.
USADA is what is called a National Anti-Doping Organization by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and thus has responsibility to:
National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) are responsible for testing national athletes in- and out-of-competition, as well as athletes from other countries competing within that nation’s borders; adjudicating anti-doping rules violations; and anti-doping education.
The USADA Reasoned Decision explains why Armstrong falls under its jurisdiction (PDF):
At all relevant times, Armstrong was required to maintain membership in USA Cycling
in order to participate in national and international competition. As a result, he agreed to comply with USA Cycling’s rules, which explicitly incorporate the USADA Protocol.
It continues:
The USOC, USADA and UCI are signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code and bound by its provisions. Article 15.3 of the Code provides that “results management and hearings shall be the responsibility of and shall be governed by the procedural rules of the Anti-Doping Organization that initiated and directed Sample collection (or, if no Sample collection is involved, the organization which discovered the violation).” Under this plain language, the Code gives results management responsibility for non-analytical violations to USADA in any case where it “discovered the violation” by a U.S. Athlete.
If that is not enough, Armstrong sued in US court challenging USADA's jurisdiction. He lost.

Does USADA have jurisdiction within the sporting world to oversee Lance Armstrong's sanctions, including bargaining with him over testimony? The answer is as simple as whether Armstrong was ever a member of USA Cycling (he was) and holds a US passport (he does). In short, yes.

It appears that Armstrong has chosen to ignore lex sportiva altogether and take his case to the court of public opinion.  No doubt this is a strategy taken in anticipation of finding himself soon in a court of law.


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