Lance Armstrong mounted a successful defense against criminal criminal by the federal government that he used performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it, as the government recently dropped all its charges against the athlete, according to the Washington Post.
The U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles had spent the last two years presenting reams of evidence to a grand jury, but despite all this labor, the government decided this week to drop its criminal case against the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, cycling’s premier competition.
Armstrong, whose rise from cancer to cycling stardom made him perhaps the most popular athlete in America during his reign, has faced allegations of drug use for several years, but vociferously denied these claims.
The decision by the government to drop its case serves as some validation for Armstrong, whose legacy has been tainted by the years of allegations.
The government believed that it had some ammunition against Armstrong after the cyclist’s former teammate Floyd Landis accused him in 2010 of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong strongly denied these accusations, and the 40-year-old cancer survivor observed that, in his entire career, he had never failed a single drug test.
At the time of the accusation, Landis famously admitted to doping during his cycling career, and his close professional ties with Armstrong led many to believe that Armstrong was guilty, as well.
Nonetheless, despite the air of suspicion that may always surround Armstrong, federal officials could not convince a grand jury that Armstrong should be convicted, so the former cycling champion is likely out of the woods, legally speaking.
Experts believe that the failure of the federal government to prove its criminal charges against Armstrong shows that federal officials should stop trying to police athletes and their use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The failure of the Armstrong case comes on the heels of prosecutors’ embarrassing first effort to convict former star pitcher Roger Clemens. That trial ended abruptly when prosecutors tried to admit evidence that had already been forbidden from the courtroom.
In addition, federal officials spent more than seven years trying to convict Barry Bonds on performance-enhancing drug charges, but the end result of their efforts was a conviction on just one count, and Bonds simply spend 30 days confined in his Beverly Hills mansion.
Because of these high-profile cases that ended in prosecutorial embarrassment, many legal experts believe that the federal government will stop pursuing similar cases against athletes in the future.
However, as the rhetoric against drug use by athletes remains lofty, and the public continues to keep a close eye on the habits of athletes, federal officials may find it difficult to keep quiet when athletes misbehave.