Does it seem strange that hundreds of drug tests over his long career failed to show any signs of illegal usage or blood doping (self-tranfusions)? A year-long Congressional and DOJ investigation failed to find any proof, or even a credible witness to this effect. Yet a quasi-governmental agency, the USADA, found dozens of witness, interviewed in secret, that placed Armstrong in the center of a vast conspiracy to use illegal drugs and to coerce his teammates to do likewise. How else could an American win six Tour de France races in a row, and a seventh on return from a bout with cancer?
How else indeed! Interrogation of witnesses in secret, without cross-examination, their names withheld until the conclusions were drawn and accusations made, is not exactly new. It is called an "Inquisition."
The Spanish Inquisition was conducted in complete secrecy. Subjects of this investigation were seized on the flimsiest of evidence, the denunciation of other such witnesses. The accused would be brought before the Inquisitor, who would shuffle papers as though there were written evidence (almost never true), and be asked to deny these accusations. The burden of proof for innocence was placed on the accused. The accused was promised redemption for his soul, if not body, if only he confessed.
Acceptance of the confession was contingent on denouncing his acquaintances who shared these "heretical" beliefs and practices. Et sic ad infinitum.
The effectiveness of this strategy was not lost in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Nearly all of the thousands of victims in the Reign of Terror confessed after being denounced by other victims, or people just seeking revenge, naming their "cohorts" in the vain attempt to seek mercy. It worked in Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union too, and for Joe McCarthy. The Inquisition, it seems, is a gift that keeps on giving.
Sorry, but Lance Armstrong's denunciation by the USADA, without hope of a public trial (the USADA demanded arbitration), doesn't pass the smell test.
Edward Ingold lives in Mundelein, Illinois.