Contact: Michele Henry, Craig Henry PLC
Email: [email protected]
CRAIG HENRY PLC’S RESPONSE TO USADA’S STATEMENT ON JENNA BLANDFORD
Craig Henry PLC is proud to represent elite-level cyclist Jenna Blandford. In May 2017, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, relying on a retaliatory report submitted by Ms. Blandford’s former boyfriend, charged Ms. Blandford with the possession and use of prohibited substances. This week, relying on unsubstantiated and discredited evidence, the arbitrator overseeing the proceedings between USADA and Ms. Blandford sanctioned Ms. Blandford in a decision finding that she violated USADA’s anti-doping rules.
The decision is unfortunately and disappointingly premised almost entirely on suspect, retaliatory testimony and “evidence” provided by Ms. Blandford’s former boyfriend, J.M. In 2016, J.M. threatened to falsely report Ms. Blandford to USADA for doping if she left him. Ms. Blandford proactively reported the threat to USADA by email but received no response. As expected, when Ms. Blandford left the abusive relationship—which required the intervention of law enforcement on Ms. Blandford’s behalf—J.M. falsely reported her to USADA for doping.
Ms. Blandford passed the test USADA administered to test for prohibited substances. USADA’s investigation included only two interviews: an interview with J.M., who admitted he purchased and used the prohibited drugs, and an interview with Ms. Blandford, who continually denied the allegations and requested USADA speak to others about who could attest to J.M.’s abusive and retaliatory behavior toward women. USADA declined to contact any other witnesses and decided to move forward in charging Ms. Blandford relying solely on J.M.’s unsubstantiated report.
Despite determining that J.M. was not credible, the arbitrator decided against Ms. Blandford based almost entirely on evidence supplied by J.M., including receipts only in J.M.’s name for prohibited substances he admitted to using. Additionally, although Ms. Blandford produced witnesses who testified that J.M. had a history of manufacturing fake text messages in order to retaliate against and stalk former girlfriends, the arbitrator chose to rely on what J.M. presented as text conversations between himself and Ms. Blandford as evidence that would substantiate the USADA’s charge. Testimony from Ms. Blandford’s coach and teammate indicated that Ms. Blandford showed no signs of doping and that her performance was progressing at a level to be expected from an accomplished athlete.
The arbitrator appears to have relied on a fallacy that USADA has codified into its law—that the word of someone who admits to cheating the system is more credible than the word of someone who has no history of such behavior. The arbitrator unjustly required Ms. Blandford to prove her innocence rather than require USADA demonstrate impropriety, and in doing so has provided a roadmap for abusers to successfully retaliate against victims.