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Uncle Sam worries more about sports cheating than about Wall Street cheating
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Perhaps if Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens were Wall Street bankers defrauding investors in such a manner that they sent the economy to the cusp of ruin they would not have had to spend money on lawyers.

Federal prosecutors have spent untold millions and as much as seven years pursuing criminal investigations against the three sports figures. Their alleged crimes: The illegal use of enhancement performing drugs. Federal prosecutors made it clear that just because “they were big sports figures” shouldn’t put them above the law.

Had they allegedly “enhanced” the quality of mortgages packaged together for investors by breaking numerous security laws the federal government might just have provided them with billions in bailout funds on the argument they were “too big to fail.”

So what has the Department of Justice accomplished with your tax dollars in the name of justice?

• After more than seven years, they secured a guilty verdict on just one count against Bonds. The former San Francisco Giants’ sentence was 30 days confinement at his Beverly Hills estate.

• Several years into their prosecution of pitching standout Roger Clemens their case ended in a mistrial. But so America can be safe, they’re going after another trial in April.

• Almost two years following the presentation of evidence to a federal grand jury, they have announced they are no longer pursuing charges against Armstrong who won seven Tour de France cycling titles.

And what has all of this dogged pursuit cost taxpayers?

Federal prosecutors assert it is essentially none of our business about how much time or money they spend. In trying to build a case against Armstrong, they traveled extensively through Europe to meet with foreign officials involved in bicycle racing.

And you thought fat cat Wall Street law firms had carte blanche expense accounts.

We are told that those who use performance enhancing drugs are misleading many impressionable young athletes and are essentially cheating. No one debates that.

Misleading investors by stuffing mortgage securities with shaky loans and people lying on loan applications are essentially forms of cheating as well. That’s not to mention numerous federal laws that were broken and innocent people caught in the aftermath they were sent to the edge of financial ruin.

That  apparently is inconsequential to Uncle Sam compared with someone like Bonds who may have squeezed more home runs out of his body by using steroids.

What makes all of the effort seem trite - especially against Armstrong - is the fact the international and national organizations that govern bicycle racing have the most aggressive and effective drug testing programs on the planet. They also have zero tolerance. A week doesn’t pass during the racing season that some professional cyclist including Americans isn’t banned for a year or for life for using performance enhancing drugs.

If prosecuting those who use steroids and such is a crime worthy of federal prosecution, then why aren’t those American cyclists investigated by the Department of Justice as well?

Two words: Selective enforcement.

Selective enforcement is a wonderful thing. It feeds into the belief that many Americans have that Uncle Sam goes after “law breakers” that it wants to make an example of or those who are unable to afford to mount an effective defense.

It is substantially easier to drive an athlete to financial ruin and weaken their ability to make money off their image than it is to take down a Wall Street banking firm that invests heavily in political campaigns.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.