Monday, June 23, 2008

Is Travis Tygart Taking PDDs?

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.


strbuk said...

Bravo my friend. If nothing else Mr Tygart needs tutoring in self expression. Talk about mangled syntax (and lest there be anyone out there smirking right now about my own deficiencies in this sphere, I admit to them and do NOT head any National organizations :-)


wschart said...

Unfortunately, in today's world, over-the-top statements tend to be perceived as "straight talk" rather than someone who engages his mouth and not his brain, or worse, someone who deliberately lies.

I'll give TT the benefit of the doubt and put him into the first category, at least for now.

Eightzero said...

IIRC, there was a Marion Jones comment in there too. Jones confessed on pressure from FBI investigators following up on BALCO. Her confession was that she lied to federal investigators, and this carries with it significant penal consequences. It is my recollection Jones *never* failed a drug test. I do vaguely remember one of her "A" samples as positive, but the "B" did not confirm. Tygart probably doesn't want to talk much about that, as it really shows the inadequacy of the USADA.

There is a currently open federal court case involving Gatlin. I am not sure what his bar licensing authority would say about the ethics involving such statements.

*Way to go* TBV. See if the AP will fork over $12.95 for this, will ya?

Unknown said...

Excellent analysis, TBV. USADA's budget must be up for review soon, and TT is trying to show the relevancy of his program. Rather disturbing how he has to leave the reality based community to make the case for USADA.


Ali said...

Peformance Diminishing Drugs ?

Unknown said...

TBV, Great insight. I've also observed organizational missions becoming corrupt parodies when there are no checks on their power, and they get full of themselves due to an exaggerated perception of the nobility of their mission.

Ali said...

Travis isn't talking like he's confident about the Landis case.

There's a bit too much bitterness/aggression. I would expect a professional politician/lawyer to disguise that with the usual artificial magnanimous gestures reserved by those who believe they've won.

My interpretation is that Tygart believes he's lost and he's indulging in some cheap point scoring, just for the record.

Just my take on what he said.


Ron said...

hey there.. thanks for the link to my blog.. BottleOfPills...... but I wanted to say that I had no inside info.. just going by what was originally announced and that I think cycling news said the same thing... "A Decision on Floyd Landis is supposed to happen in June, and that the end of june is quickly approaching"... hope I didn't mislead... thanks again...