Federal lawmakers want stronger oversight of USADA
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Two federal lawmakers on Friday called for Congress to have stronger oversight of the anti-doping agency that accused Lance Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs and stripped him of his seven Tour de France victories.
A bill filed by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and John Conyers (D-Michigan) would require the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to provide accused athletes with specific written notification of allegations of doping, give Congress an annual report summarizing enforcement actions and notify lawmakers of rules changes.
The bill is titled the "Athlete Due Process Protection Act.''
Sensenbrenner, who has been critical of USADA's pursuit of Armstrong, said the bill "will strengthen our national commitment to a fair playing field for all our American athletes in sports.''
Armstrong denies doping but dropped his fight against USADA last month. He has complained the agency's enforcement process is unfair to athletes.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said Friday the agency's rules give athletes a fair chance to defend themselves, and have been approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
"For every celebrity athlete who complains about the process when their cheating with performance-enhancing drugs is about to be or has been revealed, we have thousands of clean athletes who are enthusiastic supporters of USADA, its mission and its process which already provides most of what this bill calls for,'' Tygart said. "I hope that Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers will keep the nation's clean athletes in mind when they consider policy changes in this area.''
Armstrong sued in federal court to block USADA's case, but his case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin.
In his ruling, Sparks rejected Armstrong's claims that USADA's arbitration process violated his due process rights.
But Sparks also criticized USADA's charging document as vague and of "serious constitutional concern'' and questioned the agency's motives for pursuing Armstrong.
Created in 2000, USADA is recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States. The agency receives about $10 million annually in public funding.
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