Indiana lawyer key player in anti-doping case

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Soon after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Indianapolis attorney Bill Bock sat in his ninth-floor office overlooking Monument Circle talking about, of all things, the Friday before the 2012 Super Bowl.

But Bock, 50, wasn’t reminiscing about the city’s hosting of one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

Bock Bill Bock helped uncover evidence that wrecked the career of Lance Armstrong, but he says he still feels for the cyclist and his family. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

He was recalling the day when, as lead attorney for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, he embarked on a succession of 100-hour work weeks that led to the International Cycling Union’s Oct. 22 dethroning of Armstrong.

Bock, a partner in the law firm Kroger Gardis & Regas, estimated he’s dedicated 95 percent of the last year to USADA’s case against the famous cancer survivor and world cycling champion.

Though Bock has been working on the case for more than two years, what happened on Feb. 3 threw the USADA and Bock into high gear.

That was the day that, without explanation, Andre Birotte Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, dropped the federal inquiry into doping allegations against Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service-sponsored team.

The move seemed to deliver a death blow to the USADA’s investigation.

“We were very surprised on Feb. 3,” said Bock, who was born in Texas and raised the son of a Ball State University professor in Muncie. “Honestly, we were floored.”

Bock still doesn’t understand why federal prosecutors chose not to file charges. He knew well the mounting pile of evidence against Armstrong because he had helped compile a great deal of it.

Instead of grinding USADA’s doping investigation to a halt, Birotte’s pronouncement made USADA CEO Travis Tygart and Bock more determined than ever to find the truth.

That drive is what Bock used to convince 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates on the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams to testify against him. They said in sworn affidavits that Armstrong led a widespread, pervasive doping program for almost a decade.

A USADA report crafted largely by Bock called the scheme “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Bock, a summa cum laude graduate of Oral Roberts University who later earned a law degree from the University of Michigan, teased confessions out of witness after witness who had been silent for years.

The riders found Bock, a father of five, trustworthy and — just as important — empathetic. When Bock visited Frankie Andreu, a former Armstrong teammate, at his home in Michigan last spring, his wife, Betsy, said Bock was kind and comforting during a difficult situation.

“All he ever said was, we only want the truth,” said Betsy, who also testified against Armstrong.

Tygart wouldn’t say how much USADA pays Bock, but said it’s less than 1/10th of what he would make if he were paid by the hour. USADA’s 2010 Form 990 income tax statement showed the Colorado Springs-based organization paid Bock’s Indianapolis law firm $302,257 that year.

Tygart said Bock’s work on behalf of international sports is priceless.

“Bill deserves the MVP for clean sport,” he said.

So how did Bock come to the crossroads that would change the history of cycling?

Born in Orange, Texas, Bock grew up in Muncie loving sports and playing just about every one of them.

At Muncie Northside High School, he won three letters in golf and two in basketball. In college, he took up distance running.

Though Bock professes to have never been “a great athlete, I always thought it was an important way to convey values.”

Those who know Bock said the value he placed on honesty and integrity has never waned.

“Bill is a person of impeccable character,” said Norm Wain, general counsel and chief of business affairs for USA Track & Field. “He’s not one that gets dissuaded by politics. He approaches each issue in the same methodical way.”

Bock and other officials faced plenty of pressure to drop their case, not only from Armstrong and his attorneys and many of his cycling associates, but even from some members of Congress who wondered aloud the point of pursuing someone no longer in the sport.

The reason was simple, Bock said. Not only was Armstrong still involved in triathlons and running, but he also still profited from sponsorships associated with his cycling career. Besides, Bock and Tygart were eager to make the point that no one is above the rules.

“We’ve never dropped a case simply because someone retired,” Bock said. “If we did that, we’d have a lot of retirements.”

Bock, who in 2010 and 2011 assisted federal investigators in a doping investigation of baseball player Barry Bonds and track star Marion Jones, is no stranger to high-profile, pressure-packed cases.

While he’s soft-spoken and quick to smile, Wain said, Bock is no softy.

“I wouldn’t take his relaxed demeanor as not being aggressive at his job,” Wain said. “His job is to chase down cheaters. His job is to look at allegations and vet them all. He takes the integrity of the sport and its athletes very seriously.”

Oddly, Bock started in the 1990s by representing athletes; a bobsledder, along with several in football, track and field, water skiing, wrestling — and, yes, cycling. He even defended some of them in doping cases — in some instances successfully.

He said he always encouraged athletes “to get on the right side of telling the truth.”

As USADA was being formed in 2000, Bock gave a presentation on what the athletes would like to see from the not-for-profit that, in 2001, was recognized by Congress as “the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American and Paralympic sports in the U.S.”

Over the years, Bock consulted for the organization and, in mid-2007, Tygart asked Bock to come aboard as general counsel. He took the job.

bock_facts.gif“This is a unique area of law,” Tygart said. “It’s not about who wins and who loses. It’s about making sure sport is clean. And protecting the clean athletes that play those sports. You have to care about people. Bill is a natural fit.”

Even those who know Bock only casually say there’s little denying he has a soft spot for the athletes USADA governs — even those that run afoul of the rules.

Bock recounted how one of the first athletes — Floyd Landis — to provide testimony in the Armstrong case sighed with relief when he told his doping story. Bock spoke in halting tones of professional cyclist Dave Zabriskie’s crying when he recounted the doping ring he and Armstrong were involved in.

Bock recalled with fondness the 2009 phone call from Kayle Leogrande, one of the first athletes found guilty of doping by USADA without positive dope-test results. Leogrande fought USADA during a months-long, bitter battle.

“He called to thank me,” Bock said. “He said we did him a big favor by getting everything out in the open.”

As for Armstrong, Bock’s heart goes out to the man whose cycling legacy he has helped wreck.

“In some ways, I feel bad for him. I’m sure this has been a difficult few weeks for him — and his family,” Bock said. “We offered him the chance to come in and get on the right side of this. He declined.”

Though international sports agencies have upheld USADA’s findings, the final curtain has not yet fallen on this astonishing saga.

Armstrong’s team director, Johan Bruyneel, as well as a former team doctor and team trainer, are appealing the rulings in proceedings to be conducted by the American Arbitration Association. Bock — and the evidence he helped amass — will be central to those hearings likely to be held in the next few months.

There’s also a chance Armstrong could sue USADA and/or Bock, but Bock has other things on his mind.

He and Tygart hope the investigation is the beginning of ridding cycling and other sports of doping.

Even if sports become cleaner, Bock wouldn’t encourage his children to pursue careers as professional athletes.

“I don’t think that [professional sports] is necessarily the highest calling,” he said. “It’s easy to get distracted by the glitz and the glamour. … You should be involved in sports because you love competing. And for a love of the game.”•


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues