Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beijing Positives and Fear and Self Loathing in Adelaide

Not sure what to say about this just yet.

The TDU Director excels himself. Self loathing perhaps. You can hear it here.

Beijing drug cheats still being caught

The World Today - Wednesday, 29 April , 2009 12:44:00

Reporter: Simon Santow

PETER CAVE: The boast last year that the Beijing Olympics was one of the cleanest games in decades is looking a little hollow this lunchtime.

New testing on samples taken during the competition last August has uncovered a further six alleged drug cheats.

And it's being reported that amongst the cheats there is a track and field athlete who won gold as well as a silver medallist from the cycling arena.

The International Olympic Committee has hailed the results as proof that it's getting harder to hide from ever improving drug detection technology.

At the same time sports scientists are warning that athletes and their coaches are constantly searching for new ways of gaining an unfair advantage.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: In the world of elite sport, the current illegal drug of choice is a blood booster known as CERA.

And it's CERA, that's been found in the samples of six Beijing Olympians. Samples that were retested by the International Olympic Committee in the first few months of this year.

Sports scientist and anti-doping researcher Robin Parisotto.

ROBIN PARISOTTO: Blood boosting is the practice of introducing blood into, or new blood into the body or actually stimulating the body to make new blood on its own.

SIMON SANTOW: And what advantage does that give an athlete?

ROBIN PARISOTTO: Well, essentially, with more blood you can carry more oxygen and with more oxygen you have suddenly a lot more stamina which is great for endurance events.

SIMON SANTOW: And typically, what sort of sports has blood doping been used in?

ROBIN PARISOTTO: Well, primarily it has been associated with cycling. Pretty well everyone knows track and field, any endurance events like marathon running, biathlons, triathlons, those sort of events.

SIMON SANTOW: Robin Parisotto is heartened that even several months after the Beijing Games finished, cheats are still being uncovered.

ROBIN PARISOTTO: I think it is a fantastic development and it certainly shows a new way of thinking and a new way of tackling the doping problem.

SIMON SANTOW: Olympic officials now keep samples for eight years to allow for advances in testing and to warn athletes that cheating will eventually catch up with them.

While the names of those caught this time are yet to be publicly released, media around the world are reporting they include a cyclist who won silver, and a gold medal winning track and field athlete.

All up 5,000 competitors were tested during the games and since the beginning of the year about a fifth of those frozen samples were re-tested for CERA using technology found to be effective in weeding out cycling drug cheats in recent months.

MIKE TURTUR: It sickens me and it angers me that these athletes try to worm their way out of being detected. I am glad to see that these athletes are being found and there are no other compromise that can be made and these idiots that do cheat, really are the criminals of sport.

SIMON SANTOW: Mike Turtur won a gold medal for Australia in the 1984 Los Angeles Games in the 4,000 metres team pursuit cycling.

These days he's the race director for the cycling race Tour Down Under. He's also the regional representative on the board of the world cycling body, UCI.

MIKE TURTUR: There will be more cheats detected. There is no question because this is human nature that we are talking about and fame and fortune does some unique things to people. They lose perspective of reality and they get consumed with their own thing.

SIMON SANTOW: He says he's still shocked that cyclists who cheat haven't got the message about doping and testing.

MIKE TURTUR: I can't find the words to describe these idiots. I mean the fact of life is that they will be caught sooner or later and the storing of samples is a huge advantage in respect to that. But drug cheats, in my view, are people that have a serious problem.

They are the most selfish people that you can be associated with because they don't care about anything except themselves.

SIMON SANTOW: Sports scientists such as Robin Parisotto believe that cheating will go on because the odds are still stacked in favour of the clever cheat.

ROBIN PARISOTTO: Just in the case of blood doping with the detection of six new positive cases with a new version of EPO called CERA doesn't mean that there is no other drugs out there.

SIMON SANTOW: In the race between the drug detectors and the people prepared to use the drugs, who is winning at the moment?

ROBIN PARISOTTO: Look, I would have to say that the testers are really gaining some ground on the cheats, but this needs to be tempered by the fact that just with blood doping agents, there are at least 80 other agents out there which I am not sure there are tests for at the moment. So there is always going to be a battle.

PETER CAVE: Anti doping researcher and sports scientist, Robin Parisotto ending that report from Simon Santow.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One more death

Carlos Arribas the doyen of Spanish cycling journalism has a piece in El Pais today on the sad death of Jobie Dajka.

In the same edition my open letter has been published in Spanish.

The only other brave people to publish the open letter were the guys in new York at Velocity Nation and Doug at the Doug Report - see his April Wednesday 8th Archive.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mr Adams Conference in Denmark - Doping and legal rights 20 - 21 August 2009

The conference theme of “Doping and Legal Rights” addresses the present large‐scale supervision of elite athletes in connection with the fight against doping in elite sport. With the publication of the most recent version of the World Anti-Doping Code in January 2009 high profile athletes have begun to speak out in protest against the regime. Recently 65 athletes in Belgium have decided to challenge the legality of the system. The reason is not – they stress – that they are against doping control but because they find that the whereabouts system violates their right to privacy. In light of the evolving critique from athletes on the whereabouts system, the International Network of Humanistic Doping Research finds it timely to initiate a debate on “Doping and Legal Rights”. Internationally renowned legal experts, sociologists and philosophers will present and discuss sports law and related issues such as whereabouts, right to privacy, and the challenges that could arise from false positive test results.

International Network of Humanistic Doping Research
Department of Sport Science
University of Aarhus
Denmark

How to adjust to a life more ordinary

A good article by Australian Olympic Rower, Kimberley Crowe, raising concerns that are relevant to cycling generally and not only the recent tragic events.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

AN OPEN LETTER TO:

AN OPEN LETTER TO:

Juan Carlos CastaƱo, President of the Real Federacion Espanol de Ciclismo, Mr Mike Victor, President of Cycling Australia, Mr Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, Kate Ellis, Minister for Sport, Australia, His Excellency Mr Jaime Lissavestsky, Minister for Sport, Espana, Mr John Fahey, President, World Anti Doping Agency, and Mr Ettore Torri, Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano.

Isn't it Now Time to Act?

Hasn't the time come for some real action? Enough is enough. When can we start to tackle the problem at its source, rather than reacting by engaging in witch hunts of those who did what you wanted and gave their lives to our beautiful sport of cycling?

This week in Australia we woke up to the dreadful news of the death of yet another cyclist whose life was destroyed because he may have gone one step to far in trying to bring glory to his country.  Jobie Dajka was a good kid, a troubled kid maybe. Jobie was as people say one of those rare gems, an incredible sprinter, full of the qualities we all love to hold in awe.

Today he is dead and the gutter press feed on his carcass. And for some it is business as usual in maintaining the sport’s integrity, indeed just keeping on with the job of covering over a history of neglect.

Don’t you all know that the problem does not lie with the choices made by individual cyclists? Don’t you all know that these kids grow up, institutionalised from a young age and taught that here is only one objective – winning at all costs? And don’t you all know that you and your colleagues are too ready to be at their sides like sycophants when they do as they are told, when they toe the party line and bring home glory for your countries?

But why is it that so few of you are prepared to do more than react in a knee jerk way by shooting the messenger? By crucifying the kids? When you know it is the system that you administer that makes them do what they do?

The judges in Operacion Puerto were probably right. Like the sponsors who claim to have been defrauded, you might just wilfully close your eyes, you simply don’t want to know. Is it because to do so would be to admit this simple fact that: sport is sick because the world is sick.

Jobie joins the list, of the dead, like Marco Pantani and Jose Maria Chaba Jimenez. Those cast aside, after their minds could no longer bears the burdens of the contradictions foisted upon them by a system that demands that they fly to the greatest heights, whilst always being subject to the threat of being shot down at any moment. Free as the birds they are, to soar and bring us glory. Free as the birds they are to be sacrificed in the name of ensuring the integrity and protection of the government’s or big business’s image. Jobie joins the list of others who have had their lives destroyed, or are in the process of having their lives destroyed because of choices not made by them but by others higher up the food chain. In my country of birth, Australia, Martin Vinnicombe comes to mind. Right now in my adopted country, another young man who brings us such delight, Alejandro Valverde, faces the same fate.

Is it all because the lives of these kids are worth so much less than the investment of the sponsors and government?

Spain at least, despite all the undeserved criticism from many of you, has bitten the bullet. At last we have an enquiry, Operacion Puerto, which does not seek to victimise the kids, but deal with the pushers and dealers, the directors, who are so protected by the system you preside over. The Spanish courts should be applauded for this step. For the first time we are actually dealing with the problem. But some of you don’t get it. You still want to chant that Spain does not do enough and you want to hang the kids for doing what the system expects of them. For being free as the birds and creating that bright light in which you all love to bathe, only to have them thrown on the social scrap heap because you cannot find the strength to deal with the problem at its source.

It is a sad and hopeless day when another young rider dies after being made an outcast. But it is even sadder when those in charge seem more concerned with their image than with really getting to the root of the problem and making the systemic changes that are necessary.

How many more kids must die before you open your eyes? When will you help us to love the bike and all it gives us again?

Martin Hardie,
Law Lecturer,
School of Law,
Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

MH is working on a project to rewrite doping policy in cycling based upon the economic and social causes rather than increasing testing. He is also one of the organisers of the planned New Pathways for Professional Cycling Conference to be held to coincide with the 2010 World Championships in Geelong, Australia.