Lance Armstrong and the Lawless Feds

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by William L. Anderson: The
Reich Class: The USA's Modern Bourbons



As a former
collegiate track athlete who was running when steroids and other
performance-enhancing drugs just were hitting the scene (and which
I avoided), I am quite aware of the issues surrounding drugs in
sports. But as an opponent of the Drug War, I also believe that
the witch hunts that have surrounded the Holy Crusade to Keep Drugs
from Organized Sports are the greater danger.

Other than
Tiger Woods, perhaps no athlete in this United States has been more
feted than Lance Armstrong, who won seven consecutive titles in
the grueling Tour de France bicycle race, dominating the sport in
a way that one doubts ever will happen again. Having done so after
he survived testicular cancer that almost killed him, Armstrong's
accomplishments brought both praise and suspicion, and in the end,
suspicion seems to be winning.

Federal agents,
led by Jeff Novitsky, a former IRS investigator who also was a collegiate
high jumper, have dogged Armstrong for several years, and the investigation
stepped up after American Floyd Landis, admitted to having taken
steroids and was stripped of him Tour de France title. (Actually,
he was stripped of the title soon after the event ended when it
was revealed he had failed drug test.)

Novitsky and company have been relentless in their Javert-like hunt
for Big Tex. As this article will show, however, it is the feds
who have been committing felonies, and the very fact that they get
away with breaking the law — and in broad daylight, too — is more
proof that Americans really have much more to fear from the authorities
than they do from a cancer survivor who might have doped during
a bike race.

In the latest
salvo, attorneys
for Armstrong have filed a complaint
alleging that the authorities
have been illegally leaking grand jury material to the media, and
specifically Salena Roberts of Sports Illustrated, the New
York Times, "60 Minutes," the Associated Press (AP)
and others. According to the complaint:

“The leaker
in this case has, from the beginning, acted with the obvious intent
of legitimizing the government’s investigation of a national hero,
best known for his role in the fight against cancer,” the court
papers said. “Each leak has been designed to propagate public
support for this investigation by smearing Armstrong and tarnishing
his reputation. The tactical nature of these leaks cannot be ignored
as it strongly suggests an underlying partisanship inherent in
government agents.”

The complaint
further notes:

“The leading
government advocate for the Armstrong investigation, (Jeff) Novitzky,
was recently connected to an investigation riddled with leaks
to some of the same reporters involved in this case and has a
documented history of overreaching and disregarding individual’s
privacy rights,” Armstrong’s lawyers wrote. “These circumstances
are crying out for an investigation.”

This hardly
is a trivial matter. Leaking confidential grand jury material is
a felony punishable up to five years in prison, and it is clear
that the person with the most to gain from the leaks is Novitsky,
who apparently seems to revel in the "hero" status that
people like Roberts has given him. (Roberts, one might recall, was
the former NYT columnist who declared the Duke Lacrosse players
guilty, and even after it was revealed that the charges were false
and that prosecutor Mike Nifong had lied, she continued to vilify
the lacrosse players in her columns and launch baseless and false
attacks upon them, all with the approval of her NYT editors.)

The response
from Lou Ferrara, AP’s managing editor for sports, hardly is reassuring:
"The AP has been aggressive in covering this important story.
AP reporters will continue to pursue the truth. This action will
not stop us."

What Ferrara
actually is saying is this: "In our pursuit of someone who
allegedly took steroids, but broke no laws in the process (if he
did do performance-enhancing drugs), we will continue to
enable federal authorities to break the law in order to make them
look good, and to help them on their Holy Crusade."

Yes, we have
the irony of journalists who claim to be helping the feds pursue
an alleged lawbreaker (the government will try to put together one
of its various "derivative
" charges against Armstrong in order to try to get
around the fact that his alleged behavior was legal) by helping
the feds smash the law in the process. Journalists claim "the
public's right to know," but since members of the public don't
have the "right" to break the law, perhaps "right
to know" really is nothing more than a euphemism for a journalist's
"right to have the privilege of not having to obey the law."

for steroids and the Tour de France, it would be one thing if Armstrong
were to have done drugs (he never has failed a drug test, by the
way, and drug tests often are random) and were the only person
in the tour to be doing so. In truth, riders on the tour have taken
stuff for years, in part because everyone else seems to be doing
it, and the only way one can survive this cycling marathon is to
put extra chemicals in the bloodstream. So, if Armstrong really
did do steroids, he hardly stood alone.

The fact that
federal agents have no regard for the law — while simultaneously
proclaiming their adherence to it — and the fact that no one in
the news media seems to care that Lance Armstrong's rights are being
eviscerated so that Selena Roberts and her friends can gain financial
and personal rewards is a sign of the times. The United States is
not a country where those in authority believe they are bound by
the law, and the Progressive Media, which prattles on about the
"majesty of the law," actually spits on the law every
day so that more people can be wrongly charged and imprisoned. If
one wishes to understand the chief end of Progressivism, this is

21, 2011

L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him
], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland,
and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig
von Mises Institute
. He
also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit
his blog.

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