The Double Jeopardy Clause in the U.S. Constitution says that no man “shall…be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” In (modern) English, that means that a person should not be prosecuted twice for committing the same crime or bad deed. Seems reasonable, right? The founders of this country put it in the Constitution for a reason. Unfortunately, however, the application of the Double Jeopardy Clause (DJC) has significant limitations, one of which is that it only “attaches” (i.e. applies) once a jury is empaneled at a trial, or if there’s no jury, once the first witness is sworn in.
Since Lance Armstrong was never put on trial for the doping allegations that resurfaced yesterday, the DJC won’t help him. But that doesn’t mean that its underlying principles can’t. For example, the legal doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata are both based on the principle that you cannot re-litigate an issue that’s already been decided by a court. In Armstrong’s case, he’s been tested for doping/performance-enhancing drugs more than 500 times, and not a single test has been positive. He’s already been cleared of doping charges/allegations by cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union, and the World Anti-Doping Agency. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department dropped its two-year investigation of Armstrong’s alleged doping. Now, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is going after Armstrong.
[N]umerous riders, team personnel and others will testify based on personal knowledge acquired either through observing Armstrong dope or through Armstrong’s admissions of doping to them that Lance Armstrong used EPO, bloodtransfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and hGH through 1996.
Whether Armstrong did it or not isn’t, and shouldn’t be the issue. The issue is whether it’s fair, reasonable, or a fastidious use of taxpayer money (USADA is funded by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the federal government) to rehash these allegations. Armstrong was tested 500 times by various anti-doping agencies, and never had a positive test result. These allegations have been circling for more than a decade, yet numerous agencies have either exonerated him, or determined that there wasn’t enough real evidence to proceed.
But hold the presses, USADA has people with personal knowledge who are going to testify against Armstrong! Seriously?? Personal knowledge is sufficient for a search warrant—not a conviction, which would be the professional athlete’s version of capital punishment. If I were Armstrong’s attorney, I would file a libel lawsuit against USADA, and an emergency motion for preliminary injunction to enjoin them from proceeding with this witch hunt.