Velonews column: Legally Speaking - with Bob Mionske



wineandkeyz

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Sep 30, 2003
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Velonews has been running an interesting series of columns on the legal issues of the Landis case. The latest deals with how an athlete defends himself in a doping case:

http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/10721.0.html

Sounds like Landis has a tough row to hoe. One thing that caught my eye is that the lab doesn't have to prove it is in compliance with WADA standards.

However, the athlete is at a distinct disadvantage in one aspect of the case - the lab is only required to submit into evidence a Laboratory Documentation Package, which describes the test methods performed and the results of those tests. The lab is specifically not required to submit any documentation that it is in compliance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories.

In a criminal or civil case, the laboratory's standard operating procedures and general quality management would be legitimate subjects of inquiry to help establish whether a laboratory is capable of accurately performing complicated testing procedures. Not so in an Anti-Doping hearing - the lab is not required to provide proof of its general competence to accurately perform complicated test procedures.

This doesn't mean that the athlete can't introduce evidence questioning the lab's competence, but it does make it far more difficult for the athlete when the lab is not required to provide any evidence of its general compliance with International Standards. Now, to be fair, a lab must be accredited by WADA, which means that WADA has determined that the lab has met WADA's International Standard for Laboratories.

However, the athlete is not able to require the lab to produce evidence that it is actually in compliance with those standards. Thus, unless the athlete is able to acquire evidence of poor quality management through some other means, the athlete is hampered in that aspect of defense, and must concentrate on whether the testing and sample custody were properly performed.