Lance Armstrong and the Lawless Feds

Recently 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.)

Nonetheless, 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 crimes" 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."

As 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 it.

July 21, 2011