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Truth, Justice -- The American Way

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To continue yesterday's rant, there is one thing Cycling absolutely must do: adopt a policy of presuming a rider's innocence. This is not some nationalistic nonsense or a lawyer's conceit, but rather a recognition of reality... more to the point, no other system can work.

I know nothing of European law, but every time someone in cycling says it's time for so-and-so to "prove his innocence," it makes me wonder. Not only about what sort of standards they have, but more relevant to this discussion, what exactly the rider is supposed to do. How do you prove you've never used drugs? How do you prove a negative?

This is the beginning of the problem: that placing the burden on the accused puts them in an often impossible situation. Then consider what it takes these days for a rider to find himself in the position of defending himself. A whisper campaign? Raised eyebrows after a personal-best time trial result? Operacion Puerto?

In our system, the accused does have to prove his innocence (in criminal court, or lack of liability in civil) -- after the prosecution/plaintiff first meets their burden to prove them guilty/liable. Until someone has demonstrated in a court of law the failings of the accused, they are a whole citizen. In Cycling, such a system means that there would be no such purgatories as that now occupied by the Operacion Puerto guys. ASO couldn't threaten to exclude Ivan Basso unless he were actually found guilty. And maybe Basso isn't the best example, if you believe OP caught a large swath of riders red-handed, but for some ambiguity in the evidence. But if the Tour can ditch the OP riders on the basis of suspicion, then where the hell is the line? L'Equipe and ASO have long been enamored of the Walsh/Ballester witch hunts... if they can exclude Basso even after exoneration from OP, can they exclude someone named in the latest scandal sheet?

If you accept anything other than a presumption of innoncence, where the hell do you draw the line?