Saturday, March 26, 2011

UCI Anabolic Steroid Thresholds: Facetious Folly

There come times in this world where the limits of human endurance are surpassed by idiotic reasoning that never should be entertained. Thus the newest logic of UCI president Pat McQuaid, who assures us with straight countenance that the WADA code of anabolic steroid strict liability should be abandoned in favor of a "threshold": based upon an arbitrary and capricious range, that would ensure performance enhancement. This is an absurd notion that would encourage the likes of Victor Conte and like minded drug innovators, who work constantly to defeat modern laboratory detection methods by introducing into athletics unknown substances and practices to cloak these substances. Better would be to leave the strict liability concept intact and instead focus on the true intent of the athlete! Accidental ingestion or mistaken use of a medicinal product that contains an ingredient listed on the WADA prohibited substance list should be forgiven as inconsequential if there was no desire upon the part of the athlete to gain an unfair advantage. There should never be any desire upon the part of athletes or their medical facilitators to manipulate anabolic steroids in ways that would ensure that laboratory tests reveal below threshold values. But under the UCI threshold argument this temptation would be ever present, in fact, a perfect danger would emerge that competition would ensue among medical experts in developing innovative tactics to ensure a below threshold value for a whole constellation of anabolic steroid drugs. In any case WADA would never agree to any threshold madness.

An introduction of threshold would also invalidate the already questionable value of the UCI Biological Passport. There are many sceptics who argue that the use of longitudinal studies purported to ferret out suspicious trends do nothing but confirm undetectable manipulations of athletic physiology by unscrupulous people. Longitudinal studies of manipulated data sets introduced by devious means do nothing to aid detection of deception, they merely facilitate cheaters. Without a clear "positive" test for a prohibited substance no number of "red flag" results can be considered "conclusive" evidence of doping. But if the insane UCI threshold proposal was allowed, then the entire passport concept would be discarded as useless because there would be a huge number of "positive" tests and the "normal" physiological values of the athlete would be taken for granted as under manipulation by any number of drugs at all times.

Idiots should remain in the asylum where they belong.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The UCI Will Appeal the Alberto Contador Exoneration

At the last moment Pat McQuaid under universal pressure acts. Instantly, the universal claims of UCI cowardliness by outraged cycling fans were circumvented by bold action.

There seems to be a general consensus that the Alberto Contador clenbuterol positive test would have never been revealed except for the diligence of a German television investigative team. When Pat McQuaid was asked to verify this positive clenbuterol test he claimed, "I don't know what you are talking about." A virtual volley of accusations and recriminations followed from a sceptical cycling world, what is the UCI doing? Are they trying to sweep the Alberto Contador positive test under the rug? Are they trying to protect Alberto Contador? Pat McQuaid could have merely stated that he did not want another Floyd Landis disaster of proclaiming guilt before the ink was dry on the "A" testosterone/epitestosterone screening sample, and that it is patently unfair to proclaim the guilt of an athlete on the front page of L'Equipe and the New York Times before an athlete has a chance to see the evidence or review the charges lodged against him or her. We could attribute this "lack of knowledge" proclamation of the UCI to an exuberance of caution, learned from painful lessons of how not to conduct press interviews or how not to leak sensitive confidential laboratory information to the press: not merely an all out conspiracy to protect a favorite.

How much will you pay for ocean front property in Arizona? Pat McQuaid had no choice but appeal the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) decision, otherwise he would have been forced to resign.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Times Change: Cycling Insanity Remain

Alberto Contador wins the Vuelta a Murcia after the unexpected gift exoneration by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC). Imagine anyone in cycling making money after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug during a Grand Tour! Jan Ullrich who was linked to Operation Puerto was chauffeured back to the hotel from the 2006 Tour de France depart over simple allegations of a connection with Operation Puerto, villianized in the press, declared public enemy number one, suspended, and forced to retire! Phew! What rubbish! The sanctimonious born again sainted Ivan Basso, was given a escort from the premises in the same caravan of shame! Why? Suspected links to Operation Puerto! Ivan Basso suspended for two years by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI)! Yes, there was an iron determination across the world in the days of yore to eliminate the use and abuse of performance enhancing substances by the UCI and WADA.

Except in a single case: Alberto Contador.

Poor Floyd Landis, miracle worker on the bike, dropping the peloton like a hot potato on tough mountain stage 17, 2006 Tour de France, oh my, such things are impossible, no matter how many water bottles you drink and pour over your head, especially if you bonk the day before. Or so goes the consensus of opinion. Failure on the bicycle during the Tour de France, from that point, all goes down hill with little prospect of recovery, without some kind of concoction, say elixir of newt, brewed by the witches of Macbeth. The UCI dost not like performance enhancing substances whence spells cast upon, or boiling cauldrons, where wayward sisters danced singing incantations. Nope. Wayward witches are very innovative with their recipes, however, so innovative, that WADA must expend extravagant amounts of money to develop tests to detect their potions. Hist! Time to get out yonder rack and force a confession whence after a protracted legal battle and certain financial ruin for the athlete, confession dost fail to be expressed voluntarily. Toil, toil, time and trouble. Have good legal representation because you are going to need it, not to mention two lost years from your life. Then a extended suspension and certain lifetime banishment from cycling forever! Yes the UCI and WADA enforce the law with an iron fist, no excuses and no exceptions!

Poor Floyd Landis: the amount of testosterone detected in his system was deemed not of sufficient quantity to enhance performance; but he was suspended anyway. The only case where the amount of a prohibited substance detected was deemed insufficient to enhance performance and allowed without sanction? Alberto Contador.

Where are the days of Dick Pound, inflexible, determined man of action, an advocate of comfortable satisfaction, strict liability, and punishment? In the new days we have Pat McQuaid, weak, indecisive, a man who proclaims the philosophy of exclusive exceptionalism. Pat McQuaid declaims from the loftiest tower that those who test positive for clenbuterol must be given a free pass; and Pat McQuaid applauds those who proclaim intentions to fight appeals of Spanish Cycling Federation madness; by the UCI or WADA; "to the utmost of mine physical and mental state" as laudable. Of course, there is nothing better when physical and mental attributes fail than to retain highly experienced legal counsel, which may be needed after all, if and when the hypocritical powers awaken to action. Alberto Contador retain your lawyers, you may need them yet, if the corrupt system is to remain in tact. And then your exclusive exceptionalism may not survive; in spite of your egotistical assertions to the contrary.

Beware the ides of March!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The UCI: To Appeal or Not Appeal?

It is official, after interminable delay, Pat McQuaid has ordered International Cycling Union (UCI) lawyers to investigate the basis for an appeal to the unexpected Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) exoneration of three time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who tested positive for clenbuterol during the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France. The UCI has thirty days to appeal the RFEC decision and the appeal must be filed by March 21, 2011. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may also appeal the RFEC exoneration with an extended time limit if the UCI fails to act.

The UCI must act or face certain ridicule as an organization that tolerates innovative dopers and their confederates cheat clean riders in open defiance of the stringent WADA code. The WADA code demands a no tolerance/strict liability policy against prohibited substance use, the mere presence of a prohibited substance detected in the body, regardless of intent, constitutes a violation and warrants a mandatory one year suspension. Athletes found to have engaged in prohibited performance enhancement use or methods that would facilitate an unfair advantage; an increase in performance; are suspended for two years.

Recently, there has been a call to modify the code to take into consideration the absence of motive of athletes who test positive for prohibited substances; to declare human fallibility as a basis for exoneration from punishment. More controversially, many critical thinkers have suggested that the amount of a prohibited substance detected should be considered as a factor; a threshold value. Prohibited substances detected in blood and urine samples below a known performance enhancing level threshold would be deemed a non-violation. Although threshold as a mitigating factor would be pertinent in some cases, it would not apply to all situations. Unfortunately, the threshold argument has a weak scientific foundation, invites a danger of opening a Pandora Box of abuse by innovative doping methods and strategies by unscrupulous doctors who have formulated designs to keep performance enhancing drugs below detectable levels. Possible solution: an intelligent and thorough investigation of the circumstances of a case in an impartial way, with an independent investigative body, considering all of the factors. This would trend toward a more fair judicial determination of the merits and deem what course of action would be proper in these cases.

But for now, we have nothing but the worthless UCI appeal of the ridiculous RFEC decision based upon the inflexible concept of "strict liability." A reasonable discussion of alternatives to the present code and conduct of the anti-doping agencies is not considered possible, even in the face of the insane anti-doping world application of arbitrary and capricious rules, the unequal treatment of athletes based upon ethnic and cultural considerations, and the total failure of the system to curtail doping in sport.