The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has been a major force behind cutting down the drug use of professional and Olympic athletes in the United States. The agency was established in 2000 and has "worked to preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport and protect the rights of athletes in the Olympics & Paralympic movement in the United States" ever since. The agency has been in the news lately after they stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, but many are wondering if that is even something they have the authority to do. Who are they and what authority do they have?
USADA Vision and Mission
The USADA's vision and mission states that they hold the public trust to preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport and protect the rights of U.S. athletes. The agency has a nine member board, including five that were from outside the Olympic family, two from the Athlete Advisory Council and two from the National Governing Body Council.
Right to Strip Lance Armstrong?
The USADA was given full authority over all Olympic related sport in the United States, including cycling. They can execute a comprehensive national anti-doping program with testing, adjudication, education and research, as well as the ability to develop programs, policies and procedures. The fact that they were given full authority over all Olympic sports should give them the right to do what they want to athletes that fail tests.
Armstrong became the 22nd athlete to be disciplined by the USADA this year. Other athletes that have also punished have been Hope Solo (public warning for canrenone) and six other cyclists who faced punishments ranging from 15-month suspensions to lifetime bans (David Anthony, Michele Ferrari, Luis Garcia del Mora, Shelby Stacy, Todd Robertson, and Nick Brandt-Sorenson). In 2009, another American cyclist, Tyler Hamilton, received an eight-year ban from the USADA with a loss of results for use of an anabolic agent. Even 2012 Olympian Justin Gatlin served a four-year suspension from the agency (testosterone). Marion Jones was notably ordered by the USADA to forfeit all awards and medals received after September of 2000.
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