USADA general counsel Travis Tygart recently commented about the defense strategy of cyclists...
USADA general counsel Travis Tygart recently commented about the defense strategy of cyclists accused of doping such as Floyd Landis, who asked that his disciplinary hearing scheduled on May 14 at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California be made public, a right never before exercised by any US athlete. Moerover, Landis put the details of his defense arguments on a special website: hundreds of pages of technical and legal documents related to his test results were displayed, triggering intense debate within the cycling community. The approach was tabbed the "wiki defense" by Landis' associates, who said the feedback even provided some leads in preparing the case.
However, Tygart pointed out that the USADA did not have the right to publicly comment on pending cases, and that this put the institutions accusing the athlete in a difficult situation. Remembering past doping arbitrations, such as those involving cyclist Tyler Hamilton and sprinter Tim Montgomery, Tygart told ESPN.com, "We were painted as the bad guy by a one-sided PR campaign. Our rules don't allow us to comment, and we follow those rules. As a result, we're erroneously perceived. The reality is that we simply have the integrity to do our jobs and follow the evidence where it leads."
This imbalance may soon be over, as one of the proposed revisions in the World Anti-Doping Agency code, which will be considered at WADA's meeting in Madrid in November this year, would allow anti-doping officials to respond to negative statements about the arbitration process that are "directly attributable" to accused athletes.
The 2006 Tour de France winner, who tested positive for banned hormone testosterone during the race, even created a fund to raise money for his fight against a two-year suspension: the Floyd Fairness Fund. In the evening of the start of the Tour of California in San Francisco last Sunday, he auctioned autographed memorabilia such as a bottle of whisky, or a book written by WADA chief Richard Pound, saying that "the UCI and WADA are absolutely incompetent," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
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