2012-10-24

Did I Miss Something Here?

CNN reports that the USADA's "Armstrong report vindicates those who raised doping alert." Among those vindicated, according to the article are "Kathy LeMond, the wife of cyclist Greg LeMond," and "[a] Texas insurance company that once refused to pay Armstrong a promised $5 million bonus for winning a Tour de France, citing reports that he had doped[.]"

Something has been bothering me about this since even before I wrote my last blog post on the Lance Armstrong situation. I wanted to include this idea in that post, but I felt that what I had written was already too much for the casual reader, so I'm going to write it here.

The USADA's report to the UCI, as well as the UCI's decision itself, constitute no new evidence in the Lance Armstrong case. Does everyone understand that? Does everyone understand that it has never been proven at any point in time that Lance Armstrong actually doped? Does everyone remember that the federal grand jury in charge of prosecuting Lance Armstrong for illegal activity dropped its case back in February?

Look, I'm not naive here. It may very well be that Lance Armstrong lead a so-called "doping conspiracy." But it strikes me as being fairly odd that so many individuals and groups are behaving as though the USADA's report offers new, legally relevant information on the matter.

Let's suppose you and I are engaged in an intense game of Monopoly. Suppose during the course of that game, I decide to break the rules of the game, and this leads to my winning the game. Suppose also that you and I were breaking the same rules, and that our actions constituted a set of "house rules" to which we had both agreed. Then, after we had finished the game and we had gone home, someone else took it upon himself/herself to "clean up the game of Monopoly," leading an investigation in which a parade of individuals testified that I had broken the official rules of Monopoly during our game, and instead adhered to our agreed-upon "house rules."

Now, if I agree to abide by the authority of the person leading the investigation, then I certainly must abide by the terms of that agreement/authority. That person's findings against me as a "Monopoly cheater" may have a downstream impact on my future "career" as a Monopoly player.

But how on Earth would that person's findings have a legal impact on my life? How would the collected testimony of other people against me warrant sufficient legal evidence to sue me?

The answer is: it wouldn't. Lance Armstrong may be a cheater for all I know, but there is no legal case against his cheating. A federal grand jury already attempted the legal case, and failed to collect sufficient evidence. The legal question is as good as settled. And since February, no new material evidence has been brought against Lance Armstrong.

So what is everyone even talking about?