Lance Armstrong, Roger Clemens and the Imperial NGO’s.

John Dean, Halderman, Colson, Erlichman, 40 in all, were convicted and jailed for their part in the Watergate break-ins and cover up. All went to jail for up to 18 months. G Gordon Liddy on the other hand spent 52 months (4 years, 4 months) in jail. Want to know why?

He wouldn’t cooperate.

Roger Clemens

In February 2008 Roger Clemens was called before a congressional hearing to testify (under oath) about his use of banned steroids. You see, at 40 Roger still threw the base ball like a 25 year old. So he had to be doping. A presumption of guilt hung over Clemens’ answers, just like Gordon Liddy’s refusal to name names. But  unlike other ballplayers called before Congress that day, Clemens said “No, never used them.”

So as quickly as you can say Sammy Sosa, Clemens was indicted, but not for using banned or illegal steroids, but for lying to Congress. Perjury.

After four years, in June, 2012, Roger Clemens faced his accusers and was acquitted almost as quickly as the White House Travel Office was in 1995. The year before Barry Bonds, the all-time MLB home run king, was brought into court on similar charges. And Barry was acquitted as well, convicted of a Scooter Libby-type process offense, which cost him 30 days restriction to his home mansion and a $4,000 fine.

What Bonds and Clemens had in common with Gordon Liddy is that they refused to throw themselves on the mercy of the Congress (or the Court), and were subsequently pursued criminally for lying about a crime they could never have been compelled to confess anywhere else. Both spent millions. And only last week both were denied entry into baseball’s Hall of Fame, ostensibly for still being guilty of the offenses for which they’d already been acquitted. No one yet knows if the Shoeless Joe Jackson-Pete Rose Rule will be applied in coming years. Stay tuned. Just know Imperial NGO’s are a vindictive lot, and as Shoeless Joe knows, will pursue you to the grave.

What Bonds and Clemens have in common with Lance Armstrong is that they found themselves being judged in a venue they never should have found themselves situated in the first place, where a confession and nothing less would have been satisfactory. Shades of the Moscow show trials from the 1930s.

Americans have this nagging problem with the notion that lying to Congress is a crime while Congress lying to us is just the media’s daily plate of meat and potatoes. We plan to attend to it in due course.

But there is also the problem of just why any citizen can be hauled in front of Congress and forced to answer questions that is outside the jurisdiction of Congress in the first place.

“The use of steroids is a federal misdemeanor, that’s why”, they say. But also Major League  Baseball is a federally protected monopoly, subject to the oversight of Congress. From this thin explanation Congress claims jurisdiction, which is not far removed from EPA claiming jurisdiction over your back yard because of rain run-off from your roof.

On reflection Clemens’ attorney should have refused to allow Roger to answer any questions, only not on 5th Amendment self-incrimination grounds, but on the illegality of the venue. While the Congress may have authority over MLB, employees of the teams and leagues, from ball player to popcorn vendors, should be exempt from nosy congressmen.

Politely suggest that they go have congress with themselves.

I’d like to see a body of court decisions arise that narrows the scope of congressmen who think they can just Scooter Libby us into jail for being uncooperative, such as my lying about how I cut my finger on that sardine can I swiped at Piggly Wiggly. Or swearing under oath that I don’t believe cigarette smoking to be an addiction, or global warming to be a hoax. (See how quickly it can hit close to home?)

It’s time this imperial chastisement is challenged. The relationship between professional athletes, their 1) teams and 2) the league, 3) the unions and 4) MLB (count them, four tiers in all) is contractual in nature. Just like members of the NCAA, another Imperial NGO, they are subject to the sanctions contained within those contracts, and should not be held to a greater liability, especially criminal, since illegal steroid use is 1) a misdemeanor, 2) hard as hell to prove except by blood-urine tests, and 3) several “banned” drugs are not illegal at all, which brings us to Lance Armstrong.

Lance Amstrong

As I began, this is not a defense of Armstrong (or Clemens or Bonds) as he and his attorneys know the facts better than I. But as I watched this case unfold when the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) ordered his titles taken away last year, I felt his strongest suite was to be uncooperative, since, much like Clemens’ case, it didn’t seem USADA had much of one, and what they clearly had been trying, year after year, was to lure him into an “under oath” situation from where they could then deliver their “proof,” much like Clemens, in a criminal venue, trying to convict him of perjury instead of the actual doping.

You see, there was never any hard evidence against Clemens. Just like Armstrong, he passed every test. All the government had was a lot of he-said, he-saids, and whispered hearsay evidence, which, in the end, the jury totally disbelieved. Armstrong’s defense was even tighter in that the anti-doping testing in cycling is tougher than pee-day at the county jail, and most of the “doping” prohibited in cycling isn’t even illegal.

This is imperial nannying gone mad. Genuine medical questions as to the harm of these agents, or for that matter, their beneficial uses, is laid aside to pursue the imperial territorial prerogative that it isn’t nice to say “No” to the Mother USADA, which is what Liddy said to Judge Sirica.

The media interchanges “banned” and “illegal” all the time, almost as much as they do “assault weapon” and “peashooter”. But to be clear, there are entire classes of banned substances that are not illegal under any set of criminal statutes. So don’t you confuse them. As far as I’m concerned Lance violated a contract his cycling federation made with the USADA.

Note that all the titles taken from Armstrong have never been handed out to someone else;  No 2, 3, 4 or 5 in those races, because they, too, used performance enhancing drugs. Only they were caught and confessed. Armstrong wasn’t and didn’t. His guilt was that, after cancer, he just couldn’t have done that well to go out and win another Tour de France without cheating.

I know, he’s confessed now. But that does not absolve the Imperial NGO’s to be able to presume it before hand.

Did you not know the USADA is NOT a federal agency? True, they do play one on TV. But it is just an NGO, a non-governmental agency, not quite like MLB, but close enough. All they oversee, by contract, is what athletes can put into their bodies to enhance performance, from Cherrios to blood transfusions. Much, if not most, short of steroids, are banned by contract, not law.

And in case you didn’t know, the USDA was formed to implement the Anti-Doping Convention, as part of a EURO-IOCC plan to insure that athletes from poorer countries wouldn’t be disadvantaged in Olympic and international competition, because we westerners can get both Nikes and injections wholesale. Anti-doping is an international welfare project.

So, the USADA is closer to the Spanish Court of Inquisition than a Court of Common Pleas in England.

Like MLB, the relationship between cyclists and their racing organizations and the USADA is contractual, not legal. Just like a spouse or employer, you can lie to them until you’re blue in the face, but once caught there are still some limits on the sanctions they can levy; divorce, dismissal, keying the new Mercedes, that sort of thing, They can’t put you in jail.

But if they can trick you into a hearing under oath, and you lie, it’s a whole new ballgame. This is what the USADA attempted to do with Lance Armstrong; to get him into an administrative hearing where, with zero physical evidence (test results) and oral evidence that has still never been subject of cross examination, they, just like the scorned wife, can try to add two-three zeroes to the alimony decree.

The entire USADA case against Lance Armstrong has been 1) territorial and 2) Cha-ching.

When Armstrong decided not to pursue any more administrative appeals last year, I assumed it was to protect the millions he’d been paid, such as the lucrative contract with the US Postal Service (which added a penny to your Freedom Stamps somewhere along the way). No one wanted to sue Armstrong because they faced the same daunting task of proof that Clemens knocked out of the park earlier this year.

So, I’m curious why he’s exposed himself to this now, for it seems to me everyone who ever paid $50 for a signed photo has a claim against Lance Armstrong. I assume his decision to go on Oprah has some unknown financial protection to it, but on its face, it opens both both him and his family up to a great financial comeuppance.

Maybe he had a genuine come-to-Jesus moment. Who knows?

Still, Armstrong’s admitted guilt hasn’t changed my opinion about him very much. I was never fer-him or a’gin-him on the doping. Only the process. I dislike the notion which seems to be gaining steam in America that if you’re good at anything past 35, you must be on dope. Pity the poor 78 year-old, still full of vim and vigor, whose 29 year old bride sues for divorce on the grounds of deception once the well runs dry, while she all the time thought he was using Viagra instead of Geritol+.

Whatever Liddy’s, Bonds’, Clemens’ and Armstrong’s transgressions, I still hate  Imperial NGOs more.





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