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Too bad those responsible for mortgage collapse weren’t pro cyclists

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POSTED May 11, 2011 1:38 a.m.

The federal government is an amazing work of arrogance, inefficiency and self-righteousness.

Manipulative greedy liars in the mortgage markets who almost crashed the economy and set in motion a chain of events wiping out hundreds of thousands of jobs, sending communities into blight, and desecrating retirement accounts are getting off Scot-free.

Meanwhile they are going after Lance Armstrong for allegedly doping in a race that means about as much to most Americans as lacrosse.

Armstrong’s alleged sin is he may have used some type of enhancement drug somewhere along the way to winning a record seven straight Tour de France bicycle racing championships.

Armstrong has never tested positive test and that Cycling federations test for doping with a frequency level that would make horse in the Kentucky Derby nervous.

Yet Uncle Sam is devoting scare prosecution resources to go after yet another celebrity athlete. They spent millions and devoted years so they could slap Barry Bonds on the wrist. What national purpose does that serve?

A voice of reason in Washington, D.C., is Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston who has openly questioned the sanity of using federal resources on hard-to-win cases against celebrity athletes.

“What bothers me,” Kingston is quoted as saying by the Associated Press, “is that you’ve got a very powerful federal government that has the money and time and resources to ruin someone’s reputation.”

It is completely nuts.

First, if Armstrong did dope to help him during the Tour de France he did so on French soil and not in the United States. Second, French national pride was bruised severely by Armstrong as they aren’t wild about foreigners - especially Americans - winning what they like to call the toughest athletic contest in the world. Just ask the first American to win the Tour and three-time champion Greg LeMond. Come to think of it, he was accused by another rider just like Armstrong was of doping. Why not go after LeMond as well?

The French would have loved to have nailed Armstrong on doping charges but couldn’t.

Third, unlike Major League Baseball, European cycling federations take drug testing seriously. Test positive once and you can be banned for two years and fined $100,000. Check positive the second time and you’re banned for life. Fourth, there is no American interest in protecting the “sanctity” of pro cycling. And there is certainly no overriding reason why the federal government is making it worthy of blowing a couple of million dollars pursuing Armstrong.

This may not be a case of bruised egos as the investigation into Armstrong we’re now told has been going on for years. So what is it? If doping is such a big sin and a threat to the American way of life why are we going after past athletes and not current ones? Why hasn’t Congress called for mandatory drug tests for all bicycle races conducted on American soil if the question over Armstrong’s alleged doping is a federal case? And where is the demand that every pro baseball player take tests daily?

What makes this all look like a witch hunt is how the federal prosecutors are conveniently leaking information left and right about their investigation. There is no presumption of innocence any more once the government decides you must be prosecuted for an alleged crime that you haven’t been arrested or indicated for at any point.

Ask relatives of the late Richard Jewell. He was a security guard at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta who was repeatedly cited as a person of interest in the bombing plot, had his reputation trashed by the federal government and subsequently was exonerated completely. Apparently federal prosecutors believe the constitution grants them the power to persecute as well as to prosecute.

They’ve invested years and have come up with nothing so far on Armstrong.

Meanwhile those on Wall Street who manipulated and - according to many federal investigations of the housing collapse - broke laws regarding how mortgage securities and sold - are back to making big money.

But thanks to federal legal beagles Americans can rest assured that not one stone will be left unturned in any instance of an American being accused of doping to win a French cycling event.

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