When the United States Anti Doping Association decided to send their ‘Reasoned Decision’ in the Lance Armstrong case and supporting information to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) – they made sure all their bases were covered.
The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run doping scheme was overwhelming. It was in excess of 1000 pages, and included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants’ doping activities.
The evidence also included direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further proved the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirmed the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.
More importantly, they completed the investigation before revealing it to the world at large. And as a result it nailed Lance Armstrong’s lies.
Now, contrast this to what seems to be happening in India.
Three players, 14 bookies and 1 Bollywood actor have been arrested in the spot-fixing scandal that has hit the Indian Premier League. Other players and some team owners are involved as well according to sources. The Delhi police came out and very confidently said it has 100 hours of audio clippings as evidence. They also had investigating officers watch games and the suspicious signs made by players. They have also been questioning the players and the bookies.
Everyday, the newspapers and the TV channels are filled with stories – straight from the sources mouth - about a new revelation, an exclusive angle or a new break in the case. And everyday we wonder how true these stories are... it's juicy, it's sleazy but is it the truth? Will half-truths do simply because everyone else has access to them too?
Normal journalism practice dictates that a source is someone you’ve known for a while; someone whose words you have come to trust completely because of the number of times he has given you information that has been completely true and he is not named in your copy because you need to protect his identity.
But in this case, everyone seems to have the same source – for all the quotes read the same. While it’s all well to say that the media is sensationalising the case, one can very well say that the police are doing the same. They could have very easily conducted a thorough investigation before making their findings public. Instead, one hopes they haven’t jumped the gun as they did in the Vijender Singh affair recently.
The former Olympic medallist found himself in a quandary when his name cropped up in a massive drug haul after Punjab police recovered heroin, worth around Rs. 130 crore, from NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon’s house in Zirakpur.
The presence of a car used by Vijender’s wife Archana near the house raised a media storm and on April 1, Punjab Police said Vijender bought heroin for personal consumption on 12 different occasions from Kahlon.
They couldn’t prove anything. Vijender is back in training and the Punjab police hasn't even bothered with a sorry.
So rather than come out and invite media scrutiny – shouldn't the police have been more worried about having a watertight case? Couldn’t they have been more discreet about the whole issue… it would have certainly made it easier for them to move around and dig up facts. And it would certainly ensured, as G Pramod had pointed out in an earlier piece, that their conviction rate would have been better than a pathetic 8.2 per cent.
And they are repeating the same mistakes in the spot-fixing case. Now, they've managed to put everyone on alert and the big fish have probably managed to get away already.
And no matter what our ‘sources’ tell us, that just doesn't seem right.