--Resident counsel, Martin has provided a legal opinion on the recent news in the Lance case. As with anything on this blog, it doesn't mean anything, opinions aren't associated with the blog, and any heretofore consequences are avoided, et cetera.
Legally, all we can know for now is that the U. S. Attorneys (USA's) did not feel they had enough evidence to prove the conspiracy and fraud claims beyond a reasonable doubt. BARD is the highest burden of proof, damn tough to make. They had some evidence, for sure, since rampant PEDs usage is anecdotally well documented. But if they didnt have a stone cold, lead pipe, Master locked case with unimpeachable personal testimony and forensic data, against such a revered public figure the USA would have kissed his career good bye if he prosecuted and lost the case. He would be forever known as the lawyer who took on Lance and lost. No one wants that on their tombstone.
High profile prosecutions of revered public figures are always really political, right?
In this case, Lance's investigation was preceded by two PEDS type prosecutions against athletes where the cases were complete flops: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. In both those cases the USAs got worked, hard. USA's are ALL very skilled trial attorneys. Its either all in, or cut bait, to mix metaphors. Were they to prosecute Lance and lose (or even only get a conviction on a lesser charge) that would pretty much seal the deal for high profile athlete prosecution related to PEDS.
My gut tells me this is the last of the Novitsky type witch hunts anyway. The 2005 congressional steroid hearings were a lifetime ago. The public outrage has long since subsided. Meanwhile, the country has had to weather a historical financial storm,and cannot stomach another waste of gazillions in another lost PEDs prosecution.
The timing of the halting of the investigation is significant, and calculated. The USA issued the press release just before close of business on the eve of single biggest sporting weekend of the year. By monday, the Lance investigation news will be a mere footnote to the Superbowl headlines. Best believe the USA has been sitting on this press release for some time, and was strategically waiting to issue it so as to minimize any backlash from shutting down the investigation after so much time and money.
The timing is significant on a larger scale, too. We are entering an election year where "distractions" like an unsuccesful prosecution, or even a very long drawn out trial (which it was sure to be) would serve no candidates' purposes. This is also an Olympic year during which optimism in sport should predominate.
To sum, i think the decision to shitcan the investigation is consistent with the absence of an airtight case, and fits the prevailing public sentiment. For that reason, Im skeptical of Travis Tygart saying USA Cycling will pick up the trail where the US Attorney left off. Thats just straight up grandstanding.
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