The big news over the weekend was that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) supposedly stripped Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France (TdF) titles, after Armstrong announced that he would not enter into arbitration to decide whether he won those events with help from banned substances. Pittsburgh sports attorney Jay Reisinger (@jayreisinger) wrote an accurate account of how we got to this point, and I’ve seen and heard several other descriptions that are also accurate, so I won’t bother recapitulating.
What surprises me is that nobody seems to be questioning USADA’s authority (or lack thereof) to take away something that was bestowed upon Armstrong by the International Cycling Union (UCI). USADA is a private, non-profit corporation. Despite its name, USADA isn’t a government agency, nor does it have any governmental or police power, or judicial authority. USADA was created to do one thing: To oversee U.S. Olympians and Olympic hopefuls, and to monitor and regulate their use of performance-enhancing drugs. The Tour is sanctioned by UCI. They award the yellow jersey. They are the only body that can take it away.
USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.
Even though every news outlet has reported that USADA stripped Lance Armstrong of his TdF victories, it hasn’t actually happened. What has happened is that USADA sent a report of its “findings” to the UCI, which will examine the report, and then make its determination. Could the UCI strip Lance Armstrong of his titles? Sure. But it hasn’t happened yet, and it may not happen at all. So don’t buy into the hype, and don’t buy Travis Tygart’s propaganda.
Photo credit: jdegenhardt