Friday, September 21, 2007

My thoughts on the Landis case...

OK, everyone knows the Landis decision has been released. According to the panel, he was guilty of doping during the 2006 Tour de France. I wrote some time ago that I believed they'd find him guilty. This is not an I-told-you-so because I was hoping to be proved wrong. The lab committed grave errors and the panel recognized that. But I won't cover the same ground Radio Freddy did in Belgium Knee Warmers. Please read his post.

Anyone who's seen a police procedural like 'Law and Order' or 'CSI' knows that the standards of evidence in a criminal prosecution are quite strict. In the Landis case, the standards were much less stringent. In fact, had he been tried in a court of law, the case would most likely have been dismissed.

And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I'm proposing. The testing standards and chain of custody should be as strict as those in any court of law, if only to protect the integrity of the testing process, the defendant's rights, and our wavering faith in the anti-doping process. And to enforce that high standard, any athlete should have recourse to the court system in any doping controversy. If the anti-doping agencies have the power to ruin an athlete's reputation and destroy him financially, that athlete should have the right to bring charges against the agency, in effect, forcing them to act within the law. WADA has quasi-legal authority now because in order to participate in his sport, a professional athlete must submit to their testing regimen. The balance of power is too heavily weighted to the prosecution side.

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