He says prosecution of Lance Armstrong holds lesson for Wall Street
Travis Tygart, a former Dallas lawyer who led the investigation and prosecution against cyclist Lance Armstrong, said there is tremendous pressure on athletes and business leaders to do whatever it takes to win, including cheating.
Tygart, the chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said Tuesday that the Armstrong case is the perfect lesson for those on Wall Street that cheaters end up losing.
“It seems like you have to cheat to win today,” he said. “Whether you are an athlete or running a business or practicing law, if you do it by fraud, it is all going to come down at some point.”
Tygart, an alumnus of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, gave a lecture to more than 150 SMU law students and faculty members at the school’s Underwood Law Library.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a 202-page report last October detailing its decision to ban Dallas-born Armstrong from competition for life.
Tygart, a former litigation associate at Fulbright & Jaworski, has been praised for his handling of the inquiry despite an organized media and legal campaign opposing it.
Tygart said he received numerous death threats, including one email sent to him from an Armstrong devotee that said: “I hope you have bodyguards and a bulletproof vest.”
Armstrong’s team used social media effectively, describing the inquiry as a witch hunt and efforts to get the cyclist and his teammates to cooperate as constitutional infringements on their Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures and Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Tygart said.
Tygart said the agency also faced opposition from American business, which had developed a financial interest in having Armstrong and other Americans win the Tour de France through sponsorships and other commercial ventures.
There were even efforts to have Congress defund or dismantle the organization, he said.
“We knew we could win the legal battle, but we knew we had to win the PR battle because that was about people’s minds and public support,” he said.
Armstrong has refused to meet with Tygart and his team, but Tygart said he still holds out hope that the cyclist will have a “full and truthful discussion” about his case and identify the others involved.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., oversees anti-doping efforts in the U.S. for the Olympics, Pan American and Paralympics, and does testing for amateur athletic events across the country.
Tygart said he has seen cases in which parents gave an 8-year-old swimmer energy drinks before a race to make the child faster and another in which parents gave a 15-yearold high doses of testosterone to help the child excel at rollerblading.
Anti-doping cases against Armstrong and other athletes such as Alex Rodriguez, combined with efforts by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to pursue high-profile corporate targets, will hopefully ignite a cultural change, Tygart said.