Monday, August 02, 2010

No Such Thing as a Sweetheart Deal from USADA

According to the AP, "Lance Armstrong's attorneys say the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is offering cyclists a ''sweetheart deal'' if they testify or provide evidence that the seven-time Tour de France winner cheated by doping.

If those riders have been caught doping, the deal from USADA could result in a reduced ban from competition and other incentives, attorney Tim Herman told The Associated Press on Monday."

What Herman is desperately attempting to characterize as something inappropriate, is actually a very forward-thinking, progressive provision in the WADA code.

There's nothing that prevents USADA from inviting athletes suspected of doping to reveal not just their own story, but the details of others' doping that they observed or were aware of, in hopes of earning a reduction of their (possible) sanction.

Just as Dan Staite was apparently targeted for testing by UKAD as a result of 3rd party information, former teammates of Lance Armstrong might choose to provide evidence against him to USADA, or to a government agency - in this case with the hope of seeing their own potential liability reduced.

The WADA Code provides:

10.5.3 Substantial Assistance in Discovering or Establishing Anti-Doping Rule Violations

An Anti-Doping Organization with results management responsibility for an anti-doping rule violation may, prior to a final appellate decision under Article 13 or the expiration of the time to appeal, suspend a part of the period of Ineligibility imposed in an individual case where the Athlete or other Person has provided Substantial Assistance to an Anti-Doping Organization, criminal authority or professional disciplinary body which results in the Anti-Doping Organization discovering or establishing an anti-doping rule violation by another Person or which results in a criminal or disciplinary body discovering or establishing a criminal offense or the breach of professional rules by another Person.

After a final appellate decision under Article 13 or the expiration of time to appeal, an Anti-Doping Organization may only suspend a part of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility with the approval of WADA and the applicable International Federation. The extent to which the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended shall be based on the seriousness of the anti-doping rule violation committed by the Athlete or other Person and the significance of the Substantial Assistance provided by the Athlete or other Person to the effort to eliminate doping in sport. No more than three-quarters of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended. If the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility is a lifetime, the non-suspended period under this section must be no less than eight (8) years.

If the Anti-Doping Organization suspends any part of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility under this Article, the Anti-Doping Organization shall promptly provide a written justification for its decision to each Anti-Doping Organization having a right to appeal the decision. If the Anti-Doping Organization subsequently reinstates any part of Article 2.8 is involved and whether the violation involved a substance or method which is not readily detectible [sic] in Testing. The maximum suspension of the Ineligibility period shall only be applied in very exceptional cases.

An additional factor to be considered in connection with the seriousness of the anti-doping rule violation is any performance-enhancing benefit which the Person providing Substantial Assistance may be likely to still enjoy. As a general matter, the earlier in the results management process the Substantial Assistance is provided, the greater the percentage of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended. If the Athlete or other Person who is asserted to have committed an anti-doping rule violation claims the suspended period of Ineligibility because the Athlete or other Person has failed to provide the Substantial Assistance which was anticipated, the Athlete or other Person may appeal the reinstatement pursuant to Article 13.2.

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