In yesterday's roundup, we had some quotes from an article in the Denver Post (now available again) about Travis Tygart and the USADA. A number of things Mr. Tygart said there seem significantly out of touch with reality (as noted at Rant), that one has to wonder about his grip on the facts. Can he really be this mistaken, or is he taken grossly out of context?
Let's look at some of the whoppers in what we quoted from the article.
If there's anybody out there that has the sophistication and the wherewithal to defeat the testing system, it would be Floyd Landis or a Justin Gatlin, and they're not," Tygart says.
Let us put aside Landis for the moment, since the case still isn't finally decided, and it is probably inappropriate for Tygart to be commenting on the case at this point at all.
The implication given here about Justin Gatlin is that he somehow had sophistication or wherewithal to defeat the testing system. This is just wrong on a number of different levels. Gatlin has never tried to "defeat the testing system." He has never disputed test results. He has been, in the most cooperative ways possible, trying to get an interpretation of sanctions that he thinks is fair, based on the specific circumstances of his positive tests. He has played nice, said nothing bad about USADA in public, worn a wire for investigations, been a spokesman for the cause, and Tygart is still slamming him in inaccurate public statements.
"When you have an effective out-of-competition, intelligently based testing system like we have in the Olympic movement in the United States, there's very little room for a cheater to survive."
Unfortunately for Mr. Tygart, he doesn't cite any cases coming from his "effective out-of-competition, intelligently based testing system."
As far as we know, exactly zero of the major cases of the last few years have come from USADA's out-of-competition testing, or targeted testing. The cases he cites immediately preceding this unsupported statement, Landis and Gatlin, come from in-competition testing. Marion Jones, Kelli White, Tim Montgomery -- not OOC testing, in fact, not testing at all.
“My job,” Tygart says, “is to not let a skilled advocate like Howard [Jacobs] or anyone else use smoke-and-mirrors and technicalities to let a cheater like Tim Montgomery go free.”
Montgomery got a two year ban when USADA asked for a lifetime ban.
So what is Tygart saying?
He seems to be wanting to give credit for cases to programs that have not produced the cases he is crediting them for. He seems to be saying that Gatlin tried to cheat the tests. He seems to be saying that "technicalites" should not be considered in doping cases. He seems to be saying that a doping case under his prosecution could leave someone "free", or not - as if it were a criminal charge, with incarceration (non-"free") as an option. A number of athletes would be delighted to face jail in exchange for the rules of evidence that apply in courts.
He seems, at the bottom, to be saying his agency and the tactics he is advocating have been doing an effective job at reducing doping in the sports it watches.
He seems, as it seems his agency does, to be overreaching.
He's making claims that aren't supported by facts in evidence, and counting on general ignorance of the details and the dislike of "dirty dopers" to let him get away with misleading falsehoods to puff up USADA's image.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
There are times an organization becomes so blind to its true mission that its tactics become corrupt parodies, and the organization doesn't even try to hide them anymore. Mr. Tygart's misleading statements above suggest USADA may be past that point.