Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Are They Thinking?

Bill Hue

Comments from Steve Johnson, CEO of USAC, in today's round-up caught my eye. They diametrically contrast with USADA Counsel Bill Bock's careful and measured denial that USADA participates in any disclosure of or independently discloses, a cyclist's identity (under investigation) to race organizers or anyone/anything else prior to an actual adjudication that the cyclist violated WADA Code or USADA protocol.


Mr. Bock may have determined that such acts expose the entity to legal action in a US Court ( a subject I previously commented upon, concluding that neither the corporate entity nor the individual may have immunity from liability for such activities) that occurred in the US and may have caused injury to an individual or entity protected by US law. Or, he may have determined that the risks thereof require better prudence. Either way, USADA now distances itself from any disclosure prior to adjudication that may impact a cyclist's ability to earn a living or impact a team's sponsorships or even its very existence. Mr. Johnson might have missed the memo.

This is the interesting part of Mr. Johnson's comment;

"If USADA doesn't want to share information with AEG, that is their prerogative, but until someone tells me specifically I cannot share that information I'm happy to help the Amgen Tour of California organizers."

Mr. Johnson may be ill informed about his obligations under law and the legal consequences of breaches thereon and also may not be aware that he may not necessarily have immunity either personally or as a corporate entity for a claim such as tortuous interference with contract when he deviates from the requirements of the WADA Code or USADA protocol.

Johnson acknowledges that USADA has some concern of which he is aware of on these issues, thereby refusing to disclose its investigations of specific cyclists to race organizers, something with which Johnson apparently feels comfortable with.

Johnson must know that professional cyclists are employed to actually ride in races. He must be aware that individuals and teams rely upon corporate sponsorships as additional income in exchange for riding in races in which sponsor's logos appear and that a sponsor utilizes team and rider popularity among consumers to sell the sponsor's product. If riders do not ride or teams not race, their relationship with sponsors might be effected negatively or even terminated and may cause riders and teams to have montetary damages. If a cyclist can't race, his/her relationship with a team might terminate or his/her salary might be reduced, causing the rider to have monetary damage.

When a person or entity acts outside the WADA or UCI or USADA Code or Protocol relating to cyclists, causing them damage in the process, there may be legal relief (in a US Civil Court because the act is outside the WADA Code or other "private" protocol) available to the cyclist or to the team.

Further, if one is not immune from liability, then one may be personally responsible should a judge determine a duty was owed and a jury determine that said duty was breached and damage occurred as a result.

Here are the elements of tortious interference with contract:

1) A valid existing contract;
2) That defendant had knowledge of;
3) That defendant intended to induce breach of;
4) That the contract was in fact breached or performance was rendered more difficult;
5) Causation; and
6) Actual damage.

Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and usually discretion is preferable to unneccesary bravado. Sometimes the comments made by individuals on both sides of the issue boggles the mind. Johnson's comments certainly boggle mine.


strbuk said...

Thanks for commenting in this Judge Hue. I was astounded by Mr. Johnson's response when I posted that this AM.


nahual said...

Seems Mr. Johnson is well above his lactate threshold (LT) with those irresponsible comments. Ok Steve check yourself: From Cycling Performance Tips:

Your lungs. When your breathing is steady and regular, it means you're at or below your LT. Start to pant, and you've gone over your limit and should back off a bit to be at your LT again.