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Law Students Aid in the Landis/USADA Arbitration

As Pepperdine University School of Law hosted the unprecedented public arbitration hearing between the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and Floyd Landis, 2006 winner of the Tour de France, on May 14 through 23, law students had the opportunity to rub shoulders with international attorneys and arbitrators as they observed the hearing firsthand.

Second year law students Kirk Pearson, Lisa Wood, Randy Herndon, and Chris Aul, under the direction of Professor Maureen Weston, helped welcome big name cyclists, attorneys, arbitrators, guests, and over sixty media outlets from around the world to Pepperdine's Darling Trial Courtroom. It was the first time USADA had agreed to hold such an arbitration hearing in a public setting.

Many of the students had approached Professor Weston and in hopes of volunteering for the arbitration. Pearson, who has an interest in both cycling and sports law, was excited to listen to attorneys on both sides. "It's impressive to see how these attorneys interact with each other. The whole event has gone really well," said Pearson.

Similarly, Aul was drawn to this case because of an interest in dispute resolution and in the Tour de France race, which he watched while living in France and attending the American University of Beirut. "This arbitration is so professional; the attorneys are on the ball with every technical detail," said Aul.

According to news reports, Landis won the 2006 Tour de France after a heroic effort on Stage 17 of the race, but subsequently tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone. If found guilty as a result of the hearings, Landis could be stripped of his Tour de France victory and given a two-year ban.

Throughout the nine-day arbitration hearing, USADA claimed to have met its burden of proof under the program's rules through scientific evidence that Landis had taken synthetic testosterone. Landis' defense team called the positive drug tests the product of an incompetent French laboratory trying to cover up its errors.

In closing arguments, Landis attorney Maurice Suh pointed to an "incompetent lab" and "cherry-picked data." USADA's Prosecutor Richard Young maintained, "Mr. Landis had [synthetic] testosterone in his Stage 17 sample, and in his effort to win at all cost, he cheated the rules of cycling, and he got caught."

The three-member arbitration panel asked both sides to submit legal briefs two weeks after they receive official transcripts of the hearing, allowing the panel until midsummer to issue its decision.