MarkvW wrote:Assume that Lance only fights the pre-2004 doping allegations and gets them kicked out on statute of limitations grounds.
He's still going to have to deal with sanctions for the uncontested violations.
In the course of dealing with those admitted sanctions, is there any way USADA can get evidence of the pre-2004 doping behavior before the hearing officer?
One likely way is through the blood parameters. In the recent letter, USADA claims that LA’s blood values in 2009-2010 are consistent with manipulation. It would surely be relevant to that possibility that LA had been seen pre-2004 using EPO and transfusing. That would include the Saugy affair in 2001. Though it appears that Saugy himself is not going to say anything that would incriminate LA, LA apparently told teammates that he had a positive that was being dismissed. As Ashenden pointed out the other day, this alone is dynamite, regardless of whether the test was truly positive.
In fact, I suspect this is the main reason, or at least one main reason, why USADA wants to bring these 09/10 values in. Even if they don’t indicate blood doping strongly enough to trigger a sanction on their own, they do serve as a rationale for importing earlier evidence of blood doping. Where it gets really interesting is that UCI was in charge of analyzing those data in 09-10, and reported no anomalies. So by suggesting that there is evidence of blood doping, USADA is also calling into question the integrity of UCI. Add Saugy to that mix, and one almost wonders why UCI wasn’t listed in that letter as one of the co-conspirators. I also wonder if UCI is not going to find itself compelled to support LA on this issue to defend itself. If USADA insists that those values indicate manipulation, UCI will have to justify why it didn’t act on them.
In the discussion of the Contador case, some in this forum argued that WADA could not claim transfusion without arguing that the passport was ineffective, since Contador’s blood values apparently were not suspicious. But USADA now has two ways to avoid this problem. First, they can argue that the passport was effective, but UCI didn’t act on it. In fact, at the Contador hearing, Ashenden, testifying for WADA, claimed that his values were suspicious. So the first point is that the passport can detect a lot of potential dopers, even if the values don’t reach the strict criterion that is necessary to avoid false positives.
Testimony of other riders helps confirm the suspicion. But also—and this is the second way to address the problem of the passport’s ineffectiveness--the pre-2004 testimony will indicate that riders were acutely aware of the need to dope in a way that avoided triggering suspicion. Back then, there was no passport, but there was an off-score, the precursor of the passport. Riders knew how to take EPO and how to transfuse in a way that minimized the rise in hematocrit and the fall in reticulocytes, which is basically what beating a passport test is all about.
Note that this line of argument has another benefit besides making pre-2004 testimony relevant to post-2004 data. It responds effectively to the never tested positive argument. People invariably ask, if there was doping on such a massive scale, how could he get away with it for so long? This testimony can be justified by USADA as necessary to provide the details of how the tests are consistently beaten.