Today, the American Arbitration Association (the “AAA”) has issued a “decision” which purports to ban me from any participation in sport for 10 years.
I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different. Nor do I dispute that doping was a fact of life in the peloton for a considerable period of time. However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation. There is clearly something wrong with a system that allows only six individuals to be punished as retribution for the sins of an era.
Did the US Postal team really operate “the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”? This headline-grabber has helped create a staggering industry of books and movies, but reveals only USADA’s talent for self-aggrandizement. The reality is very different. In due course, I will take the time to give a full account of events within my knowledge. In the meantime I would ask you to treat USADA’s partial and self-serving narrative of events with considerable circumspection.
From the very outset of this matter, I have disputed -- and continue to dispute -- the authority or jurisdiction of the AAA and/or the United States Anti-Doping Agency (“USADA”) as it pertains to me.
I am a Belgian national and I reside in the United Kingdom. I have never been a member of USA Cycling, nor any other national governing body of sport based in the United States. I have never signed any document or agreement granting USADA or the AAA any authority over my livelihood or me. None of the anti-doping rule violations alleged by USADA are said to have occurred on US soil. It simply cannot be correct or acceptable that USADA - a US organization - is freely able to determine the livelihood of any individual that it chooses to prosecute, without boundary and without oversight.
USADA, through its actions of “self-proclaiming worldwide jurisdiction”, has prevented the due process of taking course, and more in particular has short-circuited the governing bodies with the real authority and of which I have been a member during all the years of my career
Moreover, I am extremely disappointed with the manner in which the proceedings were conducted. I was not afforded certain crucial procedural safeguards, which are fundamental to ensuring a fair hearing. In particular, on multiple occasions, USADA violated the confidentiality of the proceedings – presumably aimed at prejudicing or manipulating any defense I might present - with almost total impunity. The whole experience has left me with little faith in cycling’s system of dispute resolution.
I am currently debating what my next step should be. I could still challenge the decision of the AAA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although that would again require me to put my faith in arbitration. I will shortly decide whether to keep up the fight or carry on and try to expose the hypocrisy of what USADA has put me and others through.