Recently, former NHL legend Eric Nesterenko asked me a question. "Why," he asked, "does the United States Anti-Doping Agency care what Lance Armstrong did? Why is the USADA involved?"
Good question, Eric.
First, what is the USADA?
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is the national anti-doping organization for the Olympic movement in the United States. Since its inception in 2000, the USADA has worked to preserve the integrity of competition and to protect the rights of athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Part of the USADA's mission is to manage comprehensive anti-doping testing, both in-competition and out-of-competition, and to manage the related adjudication process. The USADA oversees scientific research initiatives and athlete education programs. The essence of the USADA is to identify and sanction individuals who are trying to gain an advantage over "clean" athletes through doping.
USADA's testing policies adhere to the World Anti-Doping Agency Code and its international standards.
WADA has identified both substances and methods prohibited in sports. The "Prohibited List" serves as the international standard for their identification. Mandated by, and serving as a key component of the WADA Code, the Prohibited List is one of the most important parts of global harmonization across the anti-doping movement. Broken down by categories, the Prohibited List identifies which substances and methods are prohibited in-competition and out-of-competition, as well as, in some cases, by specific sport. The Prohibited List is updated annually following an extensive consultation process facilitated by WADA. The List is, to say the least, extensive.
What, though, does the USADA have to do with Lance Armstrong?
Well, a glimpse can be gleaned from the USADA's October 10, 2012 "Statement" cum press release. In it, the USADA Media Relations department noted that "Today, we are sending the 'Reasoned Decision' in the Lance Armstrong case and supporting information to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC)."
The World Anti-Doping Agency is an independent foundation created through a collective initiative led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It was set up in Switzerland, as a result of what was called the "Declaration of Lausanne", to promote, coordinate, and monitor the fight against drugs in sport.
WADA is responsible for the World Anti-Doping Code, adopted by more than 600 sports organizations, including international sports federations, national anti-doping organizations, the IOC, and the International Paralympic Committee.
If the heart of rock and roll is the beat, the heart of WADA is the Code.
In 2004, the World Anti-Doping Code was implemented by sports organizations prior to the Olympic Games in Athens, harmonizing the rules and regulations governing anti-doping across all sports and all countries for the first time. Read that part again "...across all sports..."
More than 600 sports organizations (international sports federations, national anti-doping organizations, International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, etc.), as well a number of professional leagues in various countries of the world have adopted the Code.
As a member of WADA, the USADA has joined in the global fight against doping in sport and, as such, "polices" its own sporting/internationally competing citizens. Thus is Lance ensnared in the USADA net, albeit that his fame was earned primarily in France.
Think of USADA, if you will, as an analogue to INTERPOL, the international police cooperative, whose role is to enable police around the world to work together to snag and prosecute the bad guys.
So Lance, although a member of the Lone Star Nation, as an American, is subject to the USADA.
USADA informed WADA and the UCI that "The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." It went on to say "The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices. A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today."
And then the finger pointed, scythe-like directly to the USPS star, "The evidence ... includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that ... prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding."
That is the sound of the second shoe falling. USPS - the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team - was funded in substantial part by you and me.
According to WADA and USADA standards and conventions, Lance was sanctioned by a lifetime ban from any and all competitions which are subject to, or part of the WADA consortium.
And that's why, Eric. Glad you asked.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddision, Tharp and Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody, divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) and seen on ECOTV 18 as host of "Community Focus." Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at either of his e-mail addresses, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.