Legal documents and investigative reports can be deadly reading, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s 202-page report released Wednesday documenting its case against former cyclist Lance Armstrong is as good as any spy novel.
The report was posted in its entirety
on The New York Times
website, and it was heralded as “the most extensive, groundbreaking layout of Armstrong’s alleged doping, bolstered by new interviews, financial statements and laboratory results.”
Within the first 25 pages, the investigation details Lance Armstrong’s alleged rendezvous with drug suppliers on Europe’s back roads, and saline IVs used before a drug test to mask results. It’s juicy stuff, regardless of your pro- or anti-Lance views. It includes sworn statements from more than 24 witnesses, 15 professional cyclists, including 11 former Armstrong teammates and, adding more intrigue, an interview with a masseuse.
The USADA is the latest government agency to come after Armstrong, who has so far successfully fought off any claims about drug use during the time he won seven consecutive Tour de France races. Instead of fighting the claims in arbitration, Armstrong and his lawyers decided to back off and let the agency present the results of its several year investigation without any counterpoint.
Armstrong’s team of lawyers did offer their typical strongly worded rebuttal to the report’s release. In an email to the Times
, they said the report was: “a one-sided hatchet job—a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories.”
As with any Armstrong doping story, social media and online forums hosted most of the conversations. Comments on the Times
’ story were pushing 1,000. The Wall Street Journal
offered a live blog
of updates as reporters poured through the report.
Given the depth of the report, and allegations coming from all corners of Armstrong’s cycling community, some speculated that this might be the most effective blow to Armstrong’s Teflon defense. The former cyclist and his team have to date been able to diffuse attacks from 60 Minutes, world doping agencies and the U.S. Justice Department.
But the USADA report lets the investigation do the talking, instead of getting into a war of words with Armstrong and his team. That might be the most effect tactic yet.
Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor. He heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at email@example.com.