Lance Armstrong’s court battle to prevent the US Anti-Doping Agency from pursuing its doping charges against him isn’t the only news in the world of doping this week.
Garmin Sharp pro cycling team manager Jonathan Vaughters admitted in a New York Times op-ed piece to taking performance-enhancing drugs during the cycling career, and cyclist Tyler Hamilton lost his 2004 gold medal because of doping.
The common thread for all these stories is that all the players rode for the US Postal Service team at one time or another.
The Armstrong case is being played out in federal court in Austin. Armstrong is trying to stop the USADA by arguing it doesn’t have jurisdiction to charge Armstrong with running a doping conspiracy and to nullify his seven Tour de France championships.
The USADA is arguing that the agency is just doing its job, and Armstrong agreed to play by its rules when he entered professional cycling.
Armstrong steadfastly denies that he doped during his career, and continues to point to the fact that he never failed a doping test. The USADA says it has testimony from 10 former cyclists who have firsthand knowledge that Armstrong doped.
The judge is waiting to hear back from lawyers before making a decision.
One of those who no doubt testified against Armstrong is Hamilton, who appeared on “60 Minutes” last year to admit to his own role in doping and to witnessing Armstrong take performance-enhancing drugs.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee revoked Hamilton’s 2004 Olympic Gold Medal from the Athens Games. It was Hamilton who instigated the decision by returning the gold medal and asking the IOC re-assign it.
Ironically, the runner-up that year was Russia’s Viatcheslav Ekimov, also a former member of US Postal Service and currently a director of the RadioShack Nissan Trek. The IOC apparently delayed its decision on the Hamilton issue while it investigated whether Ekimov was included in the USADA probe.
Meanwhile, former US Postal Service cyclist Vaughters admitted to doping during his career in a heartfelt column in the New York Times: “How to Get Doping out of Sports.”
Vaughters said he was willing to cheat so he could gain an edge. He writes about the exhilaration of competition and being recognized as a young athlete.
“THEN, just short of finally living your childhood dream, you are told, either straight out or implicitly, by some coaches, mentors, even the boss, that you aren’t going to make it, unless you cheat. Unless you choose to dope.”
It’s a tough decision.
“I wasn’t hellbent on cheating; I hated it, but I was ambitious, a trait we, as a society, generally admire.I wasn’t hellbent on cheating; I hated it, but I was ambitious, a trait we, as a society, generally admire. … And think about the talented athletes who did make the right choice and walked away. They were punished for following their moral compass and being left behind. How do they reconcile the loss of their dream? It was stolen from them.”
The answer to cheating is to enforce the anti-doping regulations as strongly as possible, Vaughters wrote, so young athletes aren’t faced with the option of giving in to doping.
The team managed by Vaughters is well-known for its strong anti-doping stance.