Mike Hiltzik's indictment of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's prosecution of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong illustrates a larger problem with the American legal system.
Courts have increasingly enforced arbitration clauses in a wide variety of contracts. It is a legal fiction to hold that signatories voluntarily consent to waiving their fundamental right to have their grievances adjudicated in court. Cellphone companies, stock brokerage firms and other corporate giants impose arbitration in their standard contracts on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
In Armstrong's case, the injustice is glaring: The Anti-Doping Agency proceedings are essentially criminal in nature, and the outcome — branding him a cheat and stripping him of his victories — is a career death sentence. To compete, Armstrong had to agree to this draconian process. If this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone — and it is.