Regulation of Doping in Sports

Lance Armstrong’s legal challenges to doping allegations seem to be over with his statement saying “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now.” The statement came after US District Court Judge Sam Sparks’ Order in Armstrong v. Tygart and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dismissing his complaint alleging due process violations. The Order is worth reading for its content on international and US entities that regulate sport, like the International Olympic Committee, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the US Olympic Committee (USOC), and USA Cycling. The court also cites to the World Anti-Doping Program (WADA ), whose site has comprehensive information on international anti-doping standards, a Digital Library with links to free educational information, and a Legal Library with links to articles on the World Anti-Doping Code, advisory and legal opinions, case law, and national legislation. Also of interest is the judge’s criticism of USADA.

Armstrong challenged USADA’s right to bring anti-doping rule violations against him and forcing him into arbitration without providing the evidence against him beforehand. The judge’s dismissed the complaint without prejudice writing “If it should come to pass that Armstrong does not actually receive adequate notice sufficiently in advance of the arbitration hearing, and it is brought to this Court’s attention in an appropriate manner, USADA is unlikely to appreciate the result.” The judge also wrote “there are troubling aspects of this case, not least of which is USADA’s apparent single-minded determination to force Armstrong to arbitrate the charges against him, in direct conflict with UCI’s equally evident desire not to proceed against him.” He also noted “the fact that USADA has targeted Armstrong for prosecution many years after his alleged doping violations occurred, and intends to consolidate his case with those of several other alleged offenders, including – incredibly – several over whom USA Cycling and USOC apparently have no authority whatsoever. Further, if Armstrong’s allegations are true, and USADA is promising lesser sanctions against other allegedly offending riders in exchange for their testimony against Armstrong, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that USADA is motivated more by politics and a desire for media attention than faithful adherence to its obligations to USOC.”

The judge noted the conflict between USADA and the UCI, which claims it should be the body to decide if anti-doping rule violations should be issued in this case, and USA Cycling who came out in support of the UCI’s right to argue this point: “As mystifying as USADA’s election to proceed at this date and in this manner may be, it is equally perplexing that these three national and international bodies are apparently unable to work together to accomplish their shared goal – the regulation and promotion of cycling. However, if these bodies wish to damage the image of their sport through bitter infighting, they will have to do so without the involvement of the United States courts.”

For more on doping in sports, see Brooklyn Law Library’s A Guide to the World Anti-Doping Code: A Fight for the Spirit of Sport by Paul David (Call # RC1230 .D38 2008). Chapters include Development of principles relating to anti-doping regimes: the role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport — Overview of the Code and the World Anti-Doping Program — Nature of the Code and its interpretation and application — Articles 1 and 2 of the Code: anti-doping rule violations under the Code — Article 3 of the Code: the proof of anti-doping rule violations under the Code — Responsibility for testing and investigations, results management, and hearings — Sanctions for anti-doping rule violations: Articles 9 and 10 of the Code — Article 13: appeals under the Code — Challenges to the Code in the courts.