Posted tagged ‘doping’

Lance Armstrong, Miracle Man

July 7, 2009

Serve up (a little bit of) the crow: Against better judgement and past things I said, I am watching a little of the Tour de France. One of my heroes, Lance Armstrong, is back after winning a record-smashing seven straight Tours. Even though he came back to keep his fight against cancer in the spotlight, it warms my heart to see him on his bike, confident, and seemingly as strong as ever. Live Strong indeed.

Tuesday saw the nearness of the man’s greatness. On only the fourth TdF stage he’s raced in four(?) years, he missed taking the race lead, and therefore the yellow jersey, by a fraction of a second. It was so close the race organizers had to refer to the Tour rulebook and get out the calculators to figure out if Lance had indeed captured the lead.

Here’s Lance, being the better man, talking about this day when he nearly took the yellow again: Link.

Honestly, while I have deep respect for the man, and continue to be amazed by his willpower, physical ability, and depth of character in the face of a corrupted Tour organization (including a newspaper and a poor excuse for a lab, all co-owned by one of the “owners” of the race, M. Pierre Borrdry) I hold no real hope he’ll win a Tour again. I would be delighted to be surprised, however the politics behind the scenes of the Tour have shown themselves to be downright dirty beginning with the persecution of Floyd Landis, and unless Lance is practically perfect, the cynic in me fears he’ll be dragged down by the dirty backroom dealers. That’s why I never thought I’d watch another Tour again–even now, former Tour officials are treating Lance like he’s a crook and a cheater, which has never been proven–it seems impossible for anyone who isn’t on the inside of this crooked brotherhood to get a fair chance. There’s something about French jurisprudence that, at least where the Tour is concerned, violated all that Americans hold dear about being innocent until proven guilty. In France, if there’s a hint of misbehavior in their Tour, the inevitable “leak” occurs from the Tour to the French anti-doping lab to the French paper “L’Equipe,” and within 24 hours a champion can be tarred as a cheat based on the most tenuous piece of flawed evidence.

Anyway, it is a wonderful thing to see Lance Armstrong, a man blessed by genetics and hard road back from cancer, come within a second of leading the Tour de France yet again. I should never have doubted his ability and determination.

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Pro bicyclist at crematorium, arranging his infant son’s funeral, is threatened with suspension by drug tester

March 18, 2008

The Fanhouse at AOL is reporting the sad story of Kevin van Impe, who was arranging his baby’s cremation when he was approached by a drug tester and ordered to pee in a cup. Van Impe asked for some compassion at such a painful time, and the tester (whose name and agency have not been reported) threatened the cyclist with a two year suspension.

Words can’t describe what a tragedy this is, not only for Mr. van Impe, but also the sport of cycling, which is suffering at the hands of over-zealous, secretive anti-doping agencies who feel they have a moral mandate to conduct a modern-day Inquisition, yet like Torquemada have long ago lost their own moral compass.

(Warning: the comments contain NSFW language.)

Anti-doping officials: Corrupt, inept, or well-intentioned dopes?

September 13, 2006

I’m flabbergasted. Two days ago, I wrote about the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, one Dick Pound, and his baffling and unsupportable desire to eliminate WADA’s two-sample testing protocol. The AP and BBC reported he was “disturbed” that Marion Jones’ B sample tested negative for EPO, so under anti-doping rules she was cleared of suspicion. He continued, “We are going to see how that happened, learn from it, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. The worry we have is that someone is misinterpreting things or doing things wrong.” Finally, he suggested that, if WADA’s experts felt that Jones’ guilt was sufficiently proven by the A sample alone, “we have an opportunity to put that into play.” Obviously, Pound’s idea of “someone… misinterpreting things or doing things wrong” is limited to mistakes that let the guilty appear to be innocent, and not the other way around.

Paradoxically, Floyd Landis’ lawyer announced last weekend that scientific review of documentation provided by Chatenay-Malabry, the WADA-certified drug testing lab turned up “the foundation for a very strong defense.” Further, Landis’ lawyer would be filing for dismissal on 9/11/06. CNN reported on the filing, as did the AP (still running the same unflattering picture of Floyd), and of course, Landis’ own web site. The paradox is that Landis’ lawyer, Howard Jacobs, has submitted documentation from the testing lab showing multiple examples of lab technicians “misinterpreting things or doing things wrong,” just as Pound suspected, but not quite the way he presumed. From the CNN coverage: “‘In the case of the mismatched sample identification codes, the alleged confirmed T/E [testosterone/epitestosterone ratio] data on the B sample is from a sample number that was not assigned to Landis,’ Jacobs’s statement said. The only testosterone metabolite that can be argued as positive under the WADA Positivity Criteria resulted from an unknown laboratory error and is not the result of testosterone usage, the statement added.” There’s even more damning evidence against the lab, but the only place I can find to read it is on Floyd’s web site.

The final, flabbergasting fact: Reacting to the documented mistakes by Chatenay-Malabry in “proving” Floyd’s guilt, Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of WADA and a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, said Landis’ attempt to have the charges dismissed by questioning the science behind the tests wasn’t unusual. “It’s not useful to speculate about the science, until the science has had its day in the hearing process,” Wadler said. “Only then do I think we can come to some conclusions. Until then, any assertion is only an assertion.” This statement seems to have the same, “he’s guilty, we just know it” tone of Dick Pound and Enrico Carpani (“We are confident in the first [test]. For us, the first one is already good.”), president of the International Cyclists’ Union. Saying we can’t come to conclusions until after a hearing is disingenuous at best—the man has been found guilty in the public eye, thanks to leaks and public statements by WADA and UCI. And like Dick Pound’s unwitting double-entendre, Wadler’s implicit trust in Chatenay-Malabry’s “science” is speculative in the face of historical and current, documented fact, and WADA’s (unethical pre-announcement and) assertion of Landis’ guilt… “is only an assertion.” Sorry, Dr. Wadler… your backpedaling doesn’t take back the intent behind your previous statements like, “‘Doping is the presence of a prohibited substance in your body, regardless of intent or sabotage. Even if he had no significant fault or negligence, he would have to give up the title’ because he was doped at the time of the race.” In other words, The Tests are never wrong. If you really didn’t take any banned substance, and some overly-enthusiastic roadside fan handed you a drug-laced drink, it’s still your fault, and You Lose. It’s far more likely you cheated, so just come clean.

Back up a sec… “Science is speculative?” You feeling OK there, Steve? Mr. “I did medical research for 13 years?” Hmmm?

Oh yes. Read more.

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Lance Armstrong: “I am a fan and supporter of Floyd Landis. I believe in him.” (Me, too.)

August 13, 2006

Lance has given his friend a bit of public advice: don’t count on the media for fair coverage. Lay low, and wait for your time.

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