måndag 19 oktober 2009

SOLUTIONS/POUND: Handling pro athletes who use steroids

The question is too simple to be answered without some context. I assume it is directed at professional athletes who use steroids to enhance their performance, contravening rules that prohibit this.
If there are no contrary rules, players are free to take whatever drugs they choose, no matter how dangerous they may be, although professional sports organizations should accept an educational role so players can better appreciate the attendant risks. And, no matter what you may hear or read anywhere else, there are risks, both short term and long term. It is irresponsible to ignore them or to pretend that there are no reliable data pointing to the risks.
The other assumption (failing which there would be no need to solicit articles like this) is that sports have adopted rules prohibiting the use of certain drugs, including steroids. The question is limited to steroids, but there are many other drugs used in professional sport. Under this scenario, players compete, knowing the rules against the use of steroids, but some disregard them in order to obtain a competitive advantage.
At this point, it is worth taking a step backward, to consider the essential nature of sport. Sport is an activity defined and governed by rules agreed upon by all participants. Without rules, there is no sport. People considering whether or not to participate have a choice — if they do not like or disagree with the rules, they are free not to opt in. No one is forced to participate in sport. But, if they opt in, they must participate in accordance with the rules. Their competitors are entitled to rely on such compliance. If a rule is no good, it can be changed, but only by the sport as a whole, not unilaterally by individual players.
One of the sport rules, just like any of the many rules governing the field of play, equipment, scoring and so forth, is that the players may not use steroids. This may be a good rule (I think it is) or a bad rule (others will argue in this direction), but once it is a rule of the game, that is the end of the matter, unless the rule is changed at some time in the future by those representing all of the participants. In the meantime, if you use steroids, you are breaking the rules of the game and should be subject to sanctions.
Enter the professional sports organization: What should it do? First, it should educate its players regarding the existence of the rule and the reasons for it. Second, it should recognize that human nature is such that some players will cheat. It must, therefore, have an effective testing program to ensure compliance with the rules and have sanctions that will be serious enough to act as a deterrent. It should also make it clear that the health of the athletes is a factor, in addition to the integrity of the game and the expectations of players, spectators and the public at large. By appearing in a game or competition, every athlete makes a positive affirmation that he or she is in compliance with the rules. This is a higher standard than ordinary social conduct.
The "what it should do" is quite clear. Sadly, this is a far cry from what happens in practice. While lip service is paid to steroid-free sport — what professional sports organization in America would dare to say that it does not care what its players do or use — the detection and enforcement activities of some of them make the Keystone Kops look like Sherlock Holmes. An effective testing program for steroid use must be 24/7/365. Knowledge that testing will only occur during the competitive season is an invitation to use the offseason to bulk up. In spite of this, if someone is inept enough to test positive during the season (thereby failing an intelligence test as well as a drug test), the sanctions are ludicrous. A good steroid program produces an advantage lasting four to five years.
In Major League Baseball, the sanction is less than a third of a season; in the National Football League, a quarter of a season. It is practically an investment to take the risk of being caught. The message is that the professional sport organization does not care as much as it pretends to care about steroid use.
There are those who apparently welcome a sport system that allows drug use. They argue from the wrong premise, trying to pretend that because they do not think the rules are right, no one should be penalized for breaching them. Facile examples of advantages achieved in the absence of rules prohibiting specific conduct or equipment are trotted out as purported and illogical justification for use of steroids. They would not want their own children to use them but are free with advice that there is no risk, which non-acknowledged risk can be controlled with medical supervision. It is important not to be mesmerized by this well rehearsed "patter" and to separate the occasional kernel of wheat from the industrial quantities of chaff inherent in the "open everything up" agenda.
Turning sport into a pharmacological contest will destroy it. Responsible parents will keep their children out of it. The public will understand that it is no longer sport they are watching, but increasingly violent gladiatorial entertainment. Support for it will decline. Even the public has limited tolerance for meaningless freak shows.

Richard W. Pound
Richard W. Pound, a former Olympic swimmer, is a member of the International Olympic Committee and was the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. He remains a member of the WADA Foundation Board and is chancellor emeritus of McGill University in Montreal.

fredag 16 oktober 2009

Prehistoric man faster than todays best athletes?

Many prehistoric Australian aboriginals could have outrun world 100- and 200-metre record holder Usain Bolt in modern conditions.
Some Tutsi men in Rwanda exceeded the current world high jump record of 2.45 metres during initiation ceremonies in which they had to jump at least their own height to progress to manhood.
Any Neanderthal woman could have beaten former bodybuilder and current California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestle.
These and other eye-catching claims are detailed in a book by Australian anthropologist Peter McAllister entitled Manthropology and provocatively sub-titled The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male.
McAllister sets out his stall in the opening sentence of the prologue.
"If you're reading this then you -- or the male you have bought it for -- are the worst man in history.
"No ifs, no buts -- the worst man, period. ... As a class, we are, in fact, the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet."
Delving into a wide range of source material, McAllister finds evidence he believes proves that modern man is inferior to his predecessors in, among other fields, the basic Olympic athletics disciplines of running and jumping.
His conclusions about the speed of Australian aboriginals 20,000 years ago are based on a set of footprints, preserved in a fossilized claypan lake bed, of six men chasing prey.
An analysis of the footsteps of one of the men, dubbed T8, shows he reached speeds of 37 km/h on a soft, muddy lake edge. Bolt, by comparison, reached a top speed of 42 km/h during his then world- 100-metre-record run of 9.69 seconds at last year's Beijing Olympics.
In an interview, McAllister said that, with modern training, spiked shoes and rubberized tracks, aboriginal hunters might have reached speeds of 45 km/h.
"We can assume they are running close to their maximum if they are chasing an animal," he said.
"But if they can do that speed of 37 km/h on very soft ground, I suspect there is a strong chance they would have outdone Usain Bolt if they had all the advantages that he does.
"We can tell that T8 is accelerating towards the end of his tracks."
McAllister said it was probable that any number of T8's contemporaries could have run as fast.
"We have to remember, too, how incredibly rare these fossilizations are," he said. "What are the odds that you would get the fastest runner in Australia at that particular time in that particular place in such a way that was going to be preserved?"
Turning to the high jump, McAllister said photographs taken by a German anthropologist showed young men jumping heights of up to 2.52 metres in the early years of last century.
"It was an initiation ritual -- everybody had to do it. They had to be able to jump their own height to progress to manhood," he said.
"It was something they did all the time and they lived very active lives from a very early age. They developed very phenomenal abilities in jumping. They were jumping from boyhood onwards to prove themselves."
McAllister said a Neanderthal woman had 10 per cent more muscle bulk than modern European man. Trained to capacity, she would have reached 90 per cent of Schwarzenegger's bulk at his peak in the 1970s.
"But because of the quirk of her physiology, with a much shorter lower arm, she would slam him to the table without a problem (in an arm wrestle)," he said.
Manthropology abounds with other examples:
- Roman legions completed more than one-and-a-half marathons a day (more than 60 kilometres) carrying more than half their body weight in equipment.
- Athens employed 30,000 rowers who could all exceed the achievements of modern oarsmen.
- Australian aboriginals threw a hardwood spear 110 metres or more (the current world javelin record is 98.48).
McAllister said it was difficult to equate the ancient spear with the modern javelin, but added: "Given other evidence of Aboriginal man's superb athleticism, you'd have to wonder whether they couldn't have taken out every modern javelin event they entered."
Why the decline?
"We are so inactive these days and have been since the industrial revolution really kicked into gear," McAllister said. "These people were much more robust than we were.
"We don't see that because we convert to what things were like about 30 years ago. There has been such a stark improvement in times, technique has improved out of sight, times and heights have all improved vastly since then, but if you go back further it's a different story.
"At the start of the industrial revolution, there are statistics about how much harder people worked then.
"The human body is very plastic and it responds to stress. We have lost 40 per cent of the shafts of our long bones because we have much less of a muscular load placed upon them these days.
"We are simply not exposed to the same loads or challenges that people were in the ancient past and even in the recent past, so our bodies haven't developed. Even the level of training that we do -- our elite athletes -- doesn't come close to replicating that.
"We wouldn't want to go back to the brutality of those days, but there are some things we would do well to profit from."

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Photo: Usain Bolt hit a top speed of 42 km/h at the '08 Olympics. Footprints from some 20,000 years ago suggest an Aussie aboriginal may have hit 37 km/h on a soft, muddy lake edge. Photograph by: canada.com,

torsdag 15 oktober 2009

Angry Cannavaro cleared of doping

Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro has criticised the media after he was cleared of doping by the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni).
The Italy skipper, 36, took a medicine containing banned substance cortisone after a wasp sting on 28 August and failed a dope test two days later.
But the case was dropped at the request of Coni's anti-doping prosecutor.
"You get stung by a bee and then find yourself in the newspaper as if you had been doping," said a furious Cannavaro.
"Some newspapers and television channels went too far.
"It's the second time in my life that I've found myself gratuitously in the newspapers for a story like this.
"I hope this story does not follow me beyond today. My career has always been distinguished by respect for the rules."
On the eve of Parma's 3-0 1999 Uefa Cup final victory over Olympique Marseille, Cannavaro was videoed inserting a drip into his arm.
His lawyer confirmed the drip contained Neoton, a drug used in cardiac surgery to protect the heart, and was not on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances.CONI anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri asked for the case to be dropped last week, saying that Cannavaro had not committed a doping offence.
Torri has a reputation for being uncompromising in the battle against doping, having charged sports personalities in the past even when they argued that their positive tests were the result of accidents.
Cannavaro, who had requested an exemption after being treated for the sting but did not receive the documentation before he was tested, added on Juventus' website: "I didn't have any doubt [about the outcome].
"I am sorry that a matter of this kind stirred up such a fuss.
"My personal history and my career show my respect towards sports and the ethical principles which support it."
Cannavaro, who was suspended for Italy's 2-2 draw in Ireland on Saturday, which guaranteed their place at the World Cup finals in South Africa next year, is preparing to play in Wednesday's home game with Cyprus.

BBC Sport

tisdag 13 oktober 2009

Skandalcyklist hittad död på hotell

Frank Vandenbroucke har hittats död på ett hotellrum i Senegal.
Belgaren, som blev 34 år, har varit en av sportens mest omskrivna de senaste åren.
Vandenbroucke blev professionell redan 1994 och vann totalt 51 segrar under karriären – bland annat klassikern Liege-Bastogne-Liege 1999.
Belgaren befann sig på semester i Senegal när han hittades död på sitt hotellrum.
Enligt AP dog han av en blodpropp.
– En idrottsman med en briljant men alldeles för kort karriär han lämnat oss, säger Laurent De Backer, chef för det belgiska cyklingförbundet.
Frank Vandenbroucke har varit inblandad i flera skandaler på 2000-talet.
2002 fann polisen dopningspreparat i hans hem.
När domen sedan skulle falla försökte han ta sitt liv.
Enligt norska VG ska Vandenbroucke också haft drogproblem och åkt fast för rattfylla två gånger. Många av hans personliga problem har också blivit väl kände genom den belgiska pressen.
Vandenbroucke hade planer på att göra comeback redan nästa år men har inte lyckats hitta något team att tävla för.
Belgaren blev 34 år gammal.

Publicerad: 2009-10-13 Aftonbladet Sport/ Marcus Leifby

tisdag 6 oktober 2009

Bordry: "Two new products were used at the Tour"

French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) president Pierre Bordry told Le Monde that he is convinced that "two new products were used during the Tour de France: two medicines that aren't yet on the market". Bordry also said that he believes there was clear evidence of blood transfusions taking place during the race.
According to Le Monde, the two new products are hematide, a third-generation EPO that maintains haemoglobin levels, and Aicar, a product that works on muscular tissue and encourages the burning of fats. Bordry is quoted as saying he was shocked to see how thin some Tour riders looked.
Hematide is still undergoing clinical testing and won't be authorised for use until 2011. It is already on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.
Le Monde reported that tests to detect use of these two products should be ready in the near future and could be used on samples given by riders at the Tour de France. The AFLD is reported to be ready to re-test samples given by some riders during the 2008 race. Bordry also said that the AFLD had found evidence of what he described as "hardcore medicines" in rubbish bins during the Tour, among which was "a substance for producing insulin that is normally used by diabetics".

By:Peter Cossins
Published: October 5, 21:44, Updated: October 5, 21:55

IOC to mull tougher anti-doping requirements

Tough anti-doping laws that give police the power to raid and investigate those suspected of helping athletes to dope could become a new requirement for countries hoping to host the Olympics.
The value of such police powers was driven home to the International Olympic Committee by the 2006 Turin games, where Italian police raided the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team lodgings and seized a large amount of doping products and equipment.IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said IOC president Jacques Rogge has asked him to prepare a formal proposal that such laws become a requirement for bidding cities. Ljungqvist said it "absolutely" should be in place for cities bidding for the 2018 winter games.
"This is something that I feel should be a prerequisite for bidding cities, that countries do have these laws in place that makes it possible for public authorities and sport to work together, like we did in Italy," Ljungqvist said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press.
During the 2006 Winter Olympics, he said the IOC received intelligence "that something suspicious might be going on" with the Austrians but couldn't act on it because "we have no authority to make a raid." The IOC passed the information to the Italian police, "and they came back to us and said 'Yes, this looks serious and we will make a raid."
Drug tests on the athletes came back negative, but the raid netted what Ljungqvist called "a hematological laboratory, more or less, with all sorts of equipment and substances.".
"This was a very significant experience," Ljungqvist said. "The whole story would have remained unknown to everyone had the Italian law not been in place and had we not shared the information between ourselves."
"It would be dramatically negative for the host country if something happens, or if suspicions happen, that cannot be pursued. It would look very bad," he added. "They have to have the law in place that supports their police authorities to do it ... because this will happen again."

Associated Press

måndag 5 oktober 2009

Belgian recruits the help of Aldo Sassi as he searches for new team!

Vandenbroucke to publish blood values online
Frank Vandenbroucke has announced that he will publish his blood values on the internet in an effort to attract a new team. The Belgian has says he has made the decision in order to clear his name of what he feels in a general perception of him as a doper.
"I carry around the stigma of a doping rider, but this is not the case," Vandenbroucke told Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. "I need to address this and I have been in contact with Dr [Aldo] Sassi of the Mapei-training center in Milan."
Vandenbroucke said that Italian cycling coach Aldo Sassi has agreed to support the former Mapei rider with his training and the ongoing publication of his blood values. "Sassi will work with me from now on. He will also regularly test my blood and we will put my blood [values] on the net."
A well known figure in the cycling world, Sassi currently acts as a coach to both Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas). He has been instrumental in Basso's return to cycling's top level after he agreed to coach the Italian, on the condition that his blood values be open to public scrutiny.
For Vandenbroucke, the motivation for transparency comes from his desire to find a new team. In a career that dates back to 1994, the now 34-year-old has ridden for 11 different squads, most recently Cinelli-Down Under. He left the Australian-registered squad in June and has been unable to find a new team.
"My financial requirements are not high," he told Gazet van Antwerpen. "It must have to do with my past."
Vandenbroucke was a prodigious figure early in his career. He won races including Gent-Wevelgem (1998), Paris-Nice (1998), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1999) as well as two stages of the Vuelta a España. He rode for Mapei from 1995 to 1998 and Cofidis from 1999 to 2000. His career began to falter in the early 2000s as he battled problems on and off the bike.
In 2004, he admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs, including EPO, and was subsequently convicted by Belgian authorities 2005. Following the failure of his marriage Vandenbroucke reached his lowest ebb in 2007, after a failed attempt to commit suicide.

By: Richard Tyler
Published: October 3, 19:08

fredag 2 oktober 2009

Hingis discusses positive cocaine test as two-year ITF ban lapses

Wednesday marks Martina Hingis' 29th birthday. It also marks the final day of her two-year drug suspension from the International Tennis Federation.
While we've been conditioned to raise a skeptical eye when athletes profess innocence and ignorance after a positive drug test result, the ITF stance was troubling from the onset.
To review: The ITF claims that 42 nanograms per milliliter of a cocaine metabolite was found in Hingis' system, as per a drug test administered after her third-round defeat at Wimbledon in 2007. This is an amount so trace that it would not trigger a positive result had the test been administered by the U.S. military. In the wake of the positive result, Hingis voluntarily took a hair-follicle test -- which, unlike a lie-detector test, is cited by drug experts as meaningful and reliable. It indicated no traces of cocaine in her system in the 90 days following Wimbledon.
The amount was so trace that, in marked contrast to Richard Gasquet -- who was cleared to return after completing a 2�-month ban in July when an anti-doping panel ruled that he accidentally ingested cocaine by kissing a woman at a nightclub -- Hingis was at a loss even to fashion a plausible theory about how she could have tested positive. (In the past few months the British media have reported about trace levels of cocaine turning up everywhere from the Thames River to restroom sinks.) Though circumstantial evidence is just that -- circumstantial -- it defies logic that a veteran player who had passed upwards of 100 tests, some of them unannounced and out of competition, would dabble with cocaine in conjunction with a Grand Slam, knowing with virtual certainty that she would be tested.
Under the "strict-liability standard" -- which means the athlete is responsible regardless of culpability or circumstance -- Hingis was stuck, guilty until proven innocent. As a first-time offender, she faced a mandatory two-year suspension.
Though never directly attributed to the peculiarities of her case, curiously, in the months after her hearing, rules were altered and administrators were given latitude to dispense suspensions of any length from zero to two years.
With Hingis back from her foray into reality television, we caught up with her by phone at her stable in Switzerland.
SI.com: From an emotional standpoint, how do feel you've handled the past two years?
Martina Hingis: OK. There were hard times and it was frustrating knowing I did nothing wrong but couldn't really fight this. It was my reputation and I knew the truth. But the process didn't really let me fight.
SI.com: Given your outspoken personality, I think it surprised a lot of people that maybe you weren't as forceful, deciding, for instance, not to appeal. Do you regret that?
Hingis: Like you say, I always spoke [honestly] even if I wasn't always politically correct. I spoke the truth even when the truth may have hurt me. But the system was set up in such a way that there was nothing I could do.
SI.com: Bottom line: have you ever ...
Hingis: No. Taken cocaine? Never. No [recreational] drugs. I don't know even the effects. I've maybe been in a position where I could have. But never, no. If I had ever taken cocaine, I would have said so.
SI.com: Before this happened, did you ever worry about a situation like this?
Hingis: No, because I probably had between 80-100 tests and no problems. The only thing I would ever take was aspirin and I was very particular about these things. Even if I had a flu I'd call my doctor and say, "What can I take?" I was always very cautious. I never took anything that was not approved first.
SI.com: Were any players notably supportive?
Hingis:Billie Jean King wrote a letter on my behalf. But, you know, I wasn't allowed at the Grand Slams, even to enter the stadium during tournaments. So I had little contact with the other players.
SI.com: Richard Gasquet?
Hingis: No.
SI.com: Lots of comebacks going on. You're 10 years younger than Kimiko Date ...
Hingis: I'll leave it Justine [Henin]! It's not so easy. You need to commit. You can't just do it when you want to. I know the women's game isn't at the highest point it's ever been. OK, look at Kim [Clijsters]. But she has the family support, the husband, she's physically strong. She played three tournaments and she's right back and I don't think anyone can hurt her on the court.
SI.com: What is your relationship with tennis?
Hingis: I love tennis, still a big part of my life. I didn't play much in the beginning of the suspension, but then I played more. Now when I play, a lot of the time it's with juniors. I've been able to [distinguish] between the sport and the administrators.

torsdag 1 oktober 2009

Dekker's counter-analysis positive for EPO

Dutchman admits to doping, says he wants to return to cycling Dutch cyclist Thomas Dekker announced on Wednesday that counter-analysis has confirmed his positive test for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO).
He "acknowledges that he has made a mistake, he takes full responsibility," his lawyer Hans Van Oijen said in a press statement. "Thomas Dekker regrets his mistake; he will apologise and be held accountable, where possible."
An anti-doping laboratory in Cologne, Germany, found Dekker positive on June 20 after performing analysis on an out-of-competition control conducted in December 2007. It released the positive result prior to the Tour de France this year, where Dekker was scheduled to race. Silence-Lotto removed him from their Tour team and suspended him on July 1. Dekker, 25, rode for Dutch team Rabobank at the time of the test. He left the Dutch squad last August and joined Belgium's Silence-Lotto at the start of this season. In the press statement today, Dekker said the drug use was a one-time mistake and that he wants to return to cycling to prove he achieved his past results because of his talent and his teams' help. He faces a likely two-year suspension before he can return. Dekker is a two-time Dutch time trial champion and winner of the 2006 Tirreno-Adriatico and 2007 Tour de Romandie

By: Gregor Brown Published: September 30
(Photo: Roberto Bettini)