In a comment at Rant, Larry wrote:
The opinion is a rout. In tennis, it’s a 6-love match in three sets. In Little League, they would have invoked the mercy rule. In boxing, the referee would have jumped between USADA and Landis to stop the bloodshed. Tiger Woods never won a major by this many strokes.
The opinion is sheer carnage. Reading the opinion, you’d conclude that Landis never called a credible witness or raised an argument worthy of serious thought.
Sure, a lot of us thought that Landis never had a chance … but this? This wasn’t just a defeat. USADA threw a no-hitter. They never had to punt. They took nothing but three point shots, and never missed. Bowled 300. Hit every fairway and holed every approach shot. Perfect 10s from every judge.
What the hell happened?
Here are my best answers, subject to revision as I regain my balance, my perspective and my temper:
1. As we’ve discussed, the system could not let Landis win. Too much was at stake: not just the reputation of the LNDD and USADA, but also the ability of the powers that be to bring the Tour de France back under international anti-doping regulation, and the legitimacy of every doping test to be conducted at this summer’s Olympic Games.
2. Landis’ case was perceived as a challenge to the ADAs that had to be sternly repelled. Landis was trying not just to prove his innocence, but in the language of the CAS decision, to make “a wide-ranging attack on LNDD” and (quoting Richard Young) “a frontal attack on the entire Anti-Doping system.” In other words, it was total war, and the powers that be decided that nothing less than a declaration of total victory would suffice to put down the rebellion.
3. The science of the case was beyond anything the CAS could handle. This case is and has always been a classic “battle of the experts” — USADA would call their experts, Landis would call his experts, and the judges would have to decide who to believe. The CAS worked without the benefit of a scientific expert like Dr. Botre, who helped the AAA arbitration panel sort through the pros and cons of the expert testimony in Malibu. The CAS panel members could not hope to be smarter than these experts, so they chose to believe the experts with the most experience doing drug testing for athletes. Unfortunately for Landis, these experts (most of whom have pledged never to testify in favor of an athlete, and all of whom would lose their livelihood if they spoke against the ADA system) all sided with USADA.
This is the clearest reason why Landis lost so badly. The CAS decided to base its decision on what the ADA experts had to say. All of these experts worked for USADA. None of these experts worked for Landis. Landis was shut out.
4. The Landis team somehow antagonized the CAS panel. This is difficult to explain, and difficult to understand, but there’s no way to read the CAS decision without concluding that the panel was, er, teed off. The panel clearly reacted badly to allegations made by the Landis team that the other side lied, forged documents, and otherwise engaged in fraudulent conduct. Like I said, it’s hard to believe that the CAS panel would have been so sensitive, given the fact that this battle has been dirty from the outset. But maybe the CAS is used to more genteel conduct.
5. I think that the CAS saw what’s coming next: Landis’ next move (if he decides not to quit this ugly business) is to challenge the ADA arbitration system in U.S. federal court. I think this is why Landis went to the CAS in the first place (the U.S. courts would not take his case until he’s exhausted his ADA remedies). In U.S. court, the battle gets nastier still: the focus will be on the fairness of the ADA arbitration system. Perhaps the CAS resented being used as a stepping stone to such a challenge. Perhaps the CAS sensed that they were dealing with a litigant whose next move will be to challenge the legitimacy of bodies like the CAS to decide the fates of athletes.
I don’t know if all this is enough to explain the rout at the CAS, but I’m tired too.
As far as whether any athlete can prove his innocence before a system like this … I don’t know. Maybe the cause is hopeless when the athlete’s defense is based solely on the science. Or maybe the athlete has to somehow get the support of a current ADA lab head (but how can you do that?).
I think that the only hope for the system is better science performed by better labs. Once the “A” sample tests were run and analyzed at LNDD, back in July of 2006, Landis was finished. Sadly, we didn’t know that then.
September 07: Hearing Award
October 07: Hue's Hearing Appraisal
November 07: Major document Release
January 08: Larry's Curb Your Anticipation
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
In a comment at Rant, Larry wrote: