Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Biased? Not us!

MSNBC picked up an AP story about Floyd Landis and his last chance hearing before the Court for Arbitration in Sport scheduled for tomorrow in New York. Now, the headline would make you think that the taxpayers are paying for Landis' defense, but that is simply not true. That means it is false. That means the headline is a LIE. Now, if I had written this, I'd prefer anonymity too, just as the writer who penned this article seemed to prefer.

(Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/AP)

The truth of the matter is that we taxpayers support the USADA, which may spend that $2 million in pursuing this case. That's a big chunk of their annual budget, but should Landis' be denied a chance to clear his name because of budget constraints? That seems to be the implication here. It costs too much to allow Landis an appeal, therefore he shouldn't be heard. I never knew that justice, right and wrong, or having a day in court were subject to a corporate balance sheet. Too expensive? Too bad. Appeal denied.

This case is 'de novo' meaning that it's a do-over for everyone involved. Rather than an appeal based on previous decisions or perceived errors, this time it starts from scratch. Also, this one is not open to the public, so we'll have to wait for news to trickle out.

(excerpts follow)

Taxpayers footing bill for Landis’ Tour defense Court fees may cost Americans $2 million in cyclist's effort to restore title


Cyclist Floyd Landis will make his final appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in New York on Wednesday in an effort to regain the 2006 Tour de France title he lost because of a positive doping test.

The final step in the Floyd Landis doping case will take place in New York, America’s most expensive city, and once again, American taxpayers will foot part of the bill.

The 2006 Tour de France winner, who was stripped of his victory last year, seeks to have his title restored by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It’s the final step in a series of appeals that have cost upward of $2 million, a good portion of which has been paid for with federal funds.

...But it will still be costly, and a good chunk of the cost will be footed by USADA, which gets about 70 percent of its $12 million annual budget from the federal government, and the rest from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

When all of USADA’s expenses are added up, it’s possible prosecuting the Landis case from start to finish could eat up between 5 and 10 percent of the agency’s annual budget.

...CAS, largely bankrolled by the International Olympic Committee and various sports federations, will pay for arbitrators — including one from New Zealand and one from Paris — to travel to New York for the hearing.

...In the past, Landis and Suh have said they have little concern over depleting USADA’s coffers, because it’s their belief USADA runs an unfair system that is rigged against athletes.

“Everyone talks about how much money has been spent on this case, but they had twice what we had,” Suh said in an interview last September. “They had more experts at their beck and call. They spent much more than we did. That’s always been part of the system, that they’ve always had more resources than the athlete. This is the first time it’s even been close.”

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Blogger tbv@trustbut.com said...

To be fair, it's the headline, not the story that is most of the problem. The story is attributed in many outlets to Eddie Pells, who has done a very good and fair job of reporting the whole thing, including sitting through every day of the Malibu hearing. You could dig for history.

I wasn't thrilled by the first few paragraphs, perhaps because of the headline, but most of the rest is pretty balanced, and I'm sensitive to this kind of stuff.

TBV http://trustbut.blogspot.com

3:14 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I feel the headline is deliberately misleading because the article never explicitly states that tax money is going to the prosecution, not the defense. I've made my share of screw ups, but even my worst moments are better than this. Chances are the editor selected the title, not the writer, so the whole thing is at his feet. Either he didn't do much more than skim the piece, or he's functionally illiterate.

8:56 PM  

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