Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Floyd Landis UPDATE: The Arbitration Emperor Ain't Got No Clothes, Ma.

Jim Caple, writing for ESPN.com has a good piece on the aftermath of the Floyd Landis arbitration decision.

Because of my low opinion of arbitration and arbitrators, I'll let Jim speak for himself a little bit here.

Landis got hosed. The arbitration verdict was unfair and harsh. Despite the questionable evidence, Landis lost his case, his title and possibly his career (not to mention the $2 million he invested in his defense). But even so, the drug testing system came out looking worse. The Landis verdict ran the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's record to 35-0. Which isn't surprising given how the appeal system is stacked against athletes.

How's that? There's more.

After four months of deliberation, the arbitration panel ruled 2-1 against the cyclist. It did so even though it acknowledged that the French lab workers didn't follow proper testing procedures, called them "sloppy" and essentially warned that they were being placed on double-secret probation until they clean up their act.
In other words, the panel admitted that the lab tests weren't completely reliable or properly conducted, but it accepted the results anyway.

And this.

I think most athletes who test positive are in fact guilty despite their loud protests and excuses. But I'm also suspicious of a system in which no athlete ever wins an appeal. It smacks of a dictator claiming 99 percent of the vote.

All of which is exactly what I've been saying about the test procedure and notions of fundamental fairness, which can never be served by self styled adjudicative bodies that practice arbitration.

Arbitration, for the most part the way it's practiced these days is ethically challenged, morally bankrupt, doesn't allow the consumer a fair fight and it exists only because we've somehow or other let ourself get convinced that it serves our needs.

There is room for hope though. Every arbitration award has to be confirmed in the courts, and the hubris and arrogance of the creditor bar is being exposed to the strong light of judicial scrutiny in mesne ways. Courageous jurists willing to actually look into the details of a case are, surprisingly, seeing arbitration NAF style for what it is-a roust and a humbug.


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