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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Floyd Landis and Justin Gatlin Doping Scandals: Should Congress Get Involved?

Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press has an excellent article on whether Congress should conduct new hearings on performance-enhancing drugs in the wake of the Floyd Landis and Justin Gatlin doping scandals ("The Politics of Steroids," Aug. 20, 2006). As you know, Landis is an American cyclist who won the 2006 Tour de France and who was recently fired from the Phonak team after a positive doping was confirmed, while Gatlin is an American sprinter who holds the world record in the 100 meter sprint and who also recently tested positive for doping. Graham wonders if Congress might consider holding hearings on doping in sports, much like it did in 2005 in the wake of the baseball steroids scandal.

Graham interviews several people for the story, including me:

"I would be surprised if Congress acted again on this issue in the near future," said Michael McCann, a professor at the Mississippi College School of Law and a regular contributor to The Sports Law Blog. "This certainly has garnered the attention of the sports world. But with elections coming up, with the war in Iraq, with Israel, it doesn't seem as if there is a window of time to address this," McCann told The Augusta Free Press.

Bob Thompson, the director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, points to another issue that could be serving to hold back congressional action. "I don't feel yet like we've really reached that point of total public outrage all united together in one sort of voice," Thompson said . . .

Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks it is wise of Congress to steer clear of getting involved in the issue any more than it has. "The issue here is that there really isn't any right or wrong about what to ban or prohibit in sports once you get past risk," Caplan said . . .

Paul Haagen, the co-director of Center for Sports Law and Policy at Duke University, offers two other reasons for Congress to keep its nose out of the regulatory end of things. "With the international sports, I think there is a really strong case that this ought to be left to the World Anti-Doping Agency - and the reason for that is when you're dealing with international competitions, there's a lot of suspicion from country to country that individual countries are protecting their athletes, that they're not interested in rooting this out . . ."
Check out the story for more. Do you think Congress should get involved at this time, or ever?


Congress has already had numerous opportunities to step up to the plate, so to speak. They should not get involved in international issues related to doping at all-they should leave it up to WADA and USADA and the USOC. On the other hand, they had their big chance with baseball last year year and blew the chance....the BALCO incident has turned into a soap opera and the feds' attempt to charge WWF back in the 90s turned into a circus. Personally, I think WADA needs an agency to make sure that their own testing procedures are legit--kind of like an independent-independent agency. So, "no" on the Congress and Olypmic sports but "yes" on the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL....

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/22/2006 6:15 PM  

Stop the press!

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/22/2006 6:28 PM  

I think Paul Haagen is absolutely right. In Europe, the perception is that in the past US authorities failed to track down some of their own athletes, especially in athletics. WADA is on the receiving end of some heavy criticism - basically everytime someone gets caught. But the truth is it seems to work better and better. I think global sporting institutions should take care of doping, because it is not an american issue. And its a specific, knowledge-oriented theme, that should be handled by specialists. And let's face it: cycling and sprinting are hardly the national sport...

Blogger Luis Cassiano Neves -- 8/22/2006 9:20 PM  

In the past, USADA or WADA has reduced penalties in exchange for cooperation in investigations. While Gatlin will assist some in the investigations, this sounds more like a negotiated settlement. By admitting the validity of the testing procedure, he will not have as many defenses in front of the arbitrator. That will likely reduce USADA's costs. I am not aware of a prior case like this.

Anonymous Martin -- 8/22/2006 9:25 PM  

Every time someone mentions the word “government” in the discussion of anti-doping, it tends to raise a few, or sometimes more than a few, eyebrows. I think there is more than one way for the government to be involved. Each doping test costs roughly around $400 and the overall annual budget for WADA was a little over $20 million in year 2005. This is nowhere near the range of the amount required to conduct reliable tests for athletes on and off the field AND to play the cat-and-mouse games in the research labs. I feel that there IS an adequate and appropriate role for a government to fill in, other than by holding a congressional hearings which is nothing more than just a constructive public humiliation. I think the governments in Europe are much more involved (see the website below), in some respects and the US government has been criticized for being so slow to take actions in some cases. The issue here isn’t so much about WHO is in charge, but rather WHAT we can do to improve the condition. I wished more resources and productive arguments could be used towards the right direction.;template=osloois.htm

Blogger sokkichen -- 8/23/2006 4:32 AM  

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