by Renée Kolar
Since its inception, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has won 58 out of 60 arbitrations against athletes who have contested the agency’s sanctions. In federal court, USADA has never been beaten.
Justin Gatlin, a sprinter from Florida, enjoyed an ephemeral victory when he was granted a temporary injunction against USADA in June 2008 to lift his suspension for alleged doping so he could participate in the 2008 Olympic Games. The federal court, however, dissolved the injunction four days later because it found it lacked jurisdiction to intervene in USADA’s process. Gatlin v. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Inc., 2008 WL 2567657, *1 (N.D.Fla. Jun. 24, 2008).
Despite Gatlin’s brief moment of success, there is a lack of precedent of successful legal challenges to USADA. In 2004, Olympic runner Regina Jacobs sued USADA after it found that she doped. Her lawsuit challenged the rules governing the arbitration procedure, not whether USADA’s procedures were unconstitutional as Lance Armstrong now asserts. Jacobs v. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, 04 Civ. 1163 (BSJ), 2004 WL 5003951 at *1 (S.D.N.Y May 19, 2004). Nevertheless, a federal court dismissed her lawsuit on grounds it lacked jurisdiction to involve itself in a USADA arbitration. Id. at *4.
Four years later, track coach Trevor Graham was sanctioned for allegedly providing steroids to athletes and he sued USADA on constitutional grounds. A federal court dismissed his lawsuit explaining that the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act gave USADA exclusive jurisdiction. Graham v. USADA, No. 5:10-CV-194-F, 2011 WL 1261321, at *6 (E.D. N.C. 2011)
Only two athletes have won against USADA in independent arbitration proceedings. Cyclist Jonathan Page was charged with a violation in 2008 for failing to submit a sample after a race in Belgium. The arbitration panel found he had “compelling justification” and that no sanction should be imposed because he was sick and suffered a concussion and other injuries in a race-ending crash. USADA v. Jonathan Page, AAA No. 77 190 16 09 JENF.
Sprinter LaTasha Jenkins also succeeded in contesting the agency’s sanctions in 2008. She had tested positive for an anabolic steroid metabolite. The arbitration panel found that her doping samples had been mishandled in the lab in contravention of the International Standards for Laboratories (ISL) and the results should therefore be set aside. USADA v. LaTasha Jenkins, AAA No. 30 190 00199 07.
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Adjudication Process Part VI | Right to Appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Disputing, July 30, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Adjudication Process Part V |USADA Expedited Track, Disputing, July 26, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Adjudication Process Part IV | The Arbitration Hearing, Disputing, July 25, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Adjudication Process Part III | The Appointment of Arbitrators, Disputing, July 24, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Adjudication Process Part II | The Review Board Track, Disputing, July 23, 2012
- Armstrong v. Tygart | USADA Files Motion to Dismiss Lance Armstrong’s Suit , Disputing, July 21, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Adjudication Process Part I | USADA ‘Results Management,’ Disputing, July 19, 2012
- Armstrong v. Tygart | Texas Federal Court Will Hear Lance Armstrong Case on August 10, Disputing, July 18, 2012
- Armstrong v. Tygart | Lance Armstrong’s Suit and Restraining Order against USADA, Disputing, July 17, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | What is the USADA? Disputing, July 16, 2012
- USADA Case against Lance Armstrong | USADA Allegations, Disputing, July 13, 2012
- Lance Armstrong | The Doping Controversy Continues, Disputing, July 12, 2012
Renée Kolar is a summer intern at Karl Bayer, Dispute Resolution Expert . Renée is a J.D. candidate at The University of Texas School of Law and holds an undergraduate degree in Applied Foreign Languages from l’Université Stendhal in Grenoble, France.