Saturday, April 23, 2011

The CAS Upholds the UCI Biological Passport

Just when you thought Angelo Zomegnan was fast asleep, he has resurfaced with another round of controversial statements relating to his total commitment to protecting the sanctity of the sacred Giro d' Italia from the ever present scourge of doping. Angelo Zomegnan has informed the world that the current system of punishment in doping cases is insufficient to deal with the offenses and he recommends the world adopt an "additional quarantine" or an additional period of time for an athlete to return to normal health, the same way cyclists who have suspicious biological values above the normal range are suspended for health reasons, until the values return to normal. Who can argue with that sort of logic?

This is old news, but the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) has confirmed the notion that doping violations can be confirmed using longitudinal biological values, without a direct confirmed positive test for a prohibited substance, Pietro Caucchioli and Franco Pellizotti were suspended for two years. The Pietro Caucchioli CAS award is included here for students who are interested in how the CAS justifies their actions, even though it is in French, because these awards suddenly vanish into the ether, never to be seen again. The Franco Pellizotti CAS award was impossible to find even after an active search of the Internet. There merely exists a carefully orchestrated CAS press release stating that Pietro Caucchioli and Franco Pellizotti were suspended, without providing the awards. What seems to be the problem in examining CAS awards in cotroversial high profile cases where the public has an invested interest in knowing what the CAS is up to?

This once again is a reflection of the arrogant attitude that exists among the anti-doping crusade, this lack of access to important ground breaking awards. All CAS awards should be a matter of public record, indexed, archived, and available though a standard Internet data base at a click of a button. CAS awards should be available in both French and English for perusal. The era of the vanishing CAS award should cease.

Never mind the platitudes of WADA and the UCI. The glowing approval of the Pietro Caucchioli and Franco Pellizotti CAS awards can be found in unlimited press releases. The reversal of the Fanco Pellizotti Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) exoneration, which stated that although some suspicious blood values did exist: this did not establish guilt, therefore warranted no suspension, was in fact, overturned by the CAS. The legal reasoning for this reversal, the justification of the UCI biological passport as a legal bases for guilt without a positive test for a probhibited drug, is explained in the award, and to understand what legal logic and medical justifications the CAS used to arrive at this conclusion, the award must be read.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Reflections: Bad Drivers Kill Cyclists

Spring has arrived once again in the state of Utah, with typical twenty four hour temperature fluctuations of forty degrees, with clear, broken, overcast skies, and with rain and snow all occurring in the same day; nevertheless, cyclists are emerging from their cocoons like multi-colored butterflies. Which is a good sign. Too bad the driving behavior gene of motorists in Salt Lake City has not mutated, because you see the weirdest driving behavior of local motorists on a bicycle. Automobile drivers who refuse to yield when they are required to by law, but, who refuse to proceed at an intersection when the law requires the cyclist to yield. People who use scarce bicycle lanes as a parking or construction lot. People who pass you on the left, then turn right, or worse stop and back up. There is nothing more frustrating in this world than a brain dead motorist who is unqualified to drive a car, or a twenty thousand ton bus, or a loaded "eighteen wheeler." There are people who drive down the bicycle lane instead of in the traffic lane, and who insists on merging right, right over the top of you. There are times in life where you are tempted, against the rules of cycling etiquette, against the rules of common decency and common sense, to middle finger idiot motorists who lack common sense and a brain. Unfortunately, an irresistible temptation also exists of shouting out instructions on how to drive, "put down the cell phone and pay attention to what you are doing!" The exasperation factor approaches critical on so many occasions. Of course, in these cases you invite aggressive people to perpetuate assaults, and that is a very bad idea, because cyclists are assaulted enough already for no reason at all by idiot motorists who have no business on the road.

That felt good, for the moment, erupt like Mount Vesuvius. But there is forever the sickening news reports of dead cyclists, of injured cyclists, of hit and run cyclists, who die because of inattentive motorists, or who were driven from the road intentionally by some psychopath who had a bad day. People who scream in your ear to "get off the road."

WADA director general David Howman wants to resurrect the idiot concept of abandoning the "B" urine tests that confirm that the "A" tests have validity and reliability. In all doping cases where a positive test for a prohibited substance has been found, a "B" confirmation test is currently required by WADA code if requested by an athlete, and the testing procedure may be witnessed by a scientific expert representing the athlete, if requested. David Howman considers these safeguards costly and unnecessary because WADA labs have a very high confirmation rate of "A" sample diagnoses. Once again WADA expresses the concept of an unwarranted laboratory infallibility and a flippant disregard in respect to athlete rights and protections. Howman argues that there is no need to continue to ensure protections of these rights against possibly unwarranted assumptions or accusations. Incredibly, even doping expert Don Catlin disagreed with David Howman's opinion, citing a limited quantity of sample available (blood or urine) for testing and the possible necessity of testing needed to confirm a result; a "B" test without any material available to conduct the test.

It is endlessly the same old nonsense with these people! Spend the money to ensure fairness, David Howman, that is the right thing to do.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are National Sport Federations Inept?

A BBC reporter caught up with Pat McQuaid at a velodrome and he offers an explanation for the seemingly circuitous and protracted process the UCI took to appeal the surprise Alberto Contador Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) exoneration to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). Pat McQuaid assures everyone that the UCI considers the Alberto Contador excuse of "tainted meat" as unbelievable nonsense worthy of an appeal. Therefore, McQuaid assures us that the UCI felt compelled to appeal the Spanish decision to the CAS.

Of course, no one is going to argue the merits of an appeal of an exoneration that most cycling fanatics deem a unbelievable, unwarranted gift. The deed is done, the works are in process, it is only a question of how long will the appeal process take? Will we have a decision before the Giro d' Italia, before the Tour de France, or before the next Classic begins? Pat McQuaid was asked the very pertinent question, if Alberto Contador is allowed to continue racing until the CAS makes a decision, if Contador wins the 2011 Tour de France or the 2011 Giro d' Italia, or more Classics, will the UCI be forced to disqualify everything, in addition to the 2010 Tour de France victory? That could prove to be a sticky wicket of a legal problem for the UCI, the legal experts could argue until doomsday over the legal jurisdictional issues in the case, because as Pat McQuaid assures us, the CAS is an "independent body" of the UCI and the RFEC would have been avoided if the AFLD would have forced Alberto Contador to sign an illegal separate agreement not to race in France as long as the case was active, since they had a historical precedence for such an action.

Botheration, we are not talking of chump change here, but of thousands of Euros of prize money and an infinetly contestable circus. The whole issue cou resigned protesting French government inaction, interest, and funding of anti-doping programs, the AFLD has been reduced to the status of toothless tiger, weak and inept. Of course, Amuary Sport Organization could employ the Marco Pantani rule: all former champions who are under suspicion of doping, and their teams, will never be allowed to compete in a Tour de France, since the race is privately owned, and the teams are allowed to compete by invitation only. This would prove ASO "independence" from both the UCI and the CAS. If only they would act.

The RFEC decision will forever be regarded as a huge blunder and that is a shame, because it destroys the notion that national federations can act in an unbiased, independent fashion. Clearly, most national sport federations (Spain and Kazakhstan excepted) are very competent in zealous prosecution of performance enhancing drug abuse and they insist upon letter perfect suspensions allowed by statute. If all national federations were consistent, there would be no need for the UCI, WADA, or other alphabet soup. Imagine the savings to riders and teams who have to make mandatory monetary contributions to these organizations.

Just saying.