Saturday, September 28, 2013

Brian Cookson: UCI Era of Honesty, Straightforwardness, and Transparency?

Brian Cookson is the new president of the International Cycling Union!  Out with Pat McQuaid who has been accused of infecting cycling with his particular virus of lies, cover ups, and corruption.  We as cycling fanatics hope that the new administration will focus on the ideals of honesty, straightforwardness, and transparency.

But will this be the case?  Brian Cookson does seem an odd choice in light of the current doping scandals that continue to plague Team Sky; Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and the continuing speculation that the resurgence in British cycling that Mr. Cookson seems to be directly involved in as past President of British Cycling cannot be anything more than an investment of money and a resurgence in British Cycling national pride.  Here are the most salient questionable points directly related to the absurd success of the recently resurgent British Cycling program quoted directly from the New York Times article composed by Ian Austen.

When Cookson, a modestly successful amateur cyclist and landscape architect, became president of British Cycling in 1997, it was near bankruptcy. Britain had won one Olympic gold medal in 76 years, and rare appearances by British teams at the Tour de France were embarrassments. Development programs and partnerships introduced by Cookson, along with British national lottery money, helped Britain win gold medals in eight cycling events at last year’s Olympics. The last two Tour de France winners, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, ride for Team Sky, the professional offshoot of British Cycling.  

"One gold medal in seventy six years" then gold medals in eight Olympic cycling events!  Then suddenly British riders who were considered embarrassments in Tours de France, Tommy Simpson not excepted, suddenly dominate the race with wide margins not seen since Lance Armstrong!  Bradley Wiggins in spite of his track racing prowess was never considered a good Grand Tour road cyclist; then suddenly he wins the race going away!  Team Sky dominates the peloton like Discovery Channel!  Brian Cookson seems an odd choice to elect as new president of the UCI in light of the fact that people are declaring this new resurgence in British Cycling suspect, possibly a result of use of performance enhancing drugs.  Brian Cookson may be ignorant of any dope related malfeasance among British Cycling or Team Sky; but then again, if these incredible results call for an "independent" investigation, the chair of this "independent" investigation may be the fox who is investigating the disappearance of the hens from the coop, for which he bears some responsibility.  Of course, this fox will lead the investigators astray with obscurantism since he and his fellow foxes may be culpable.  Realistically,  money can't buy all of this British success!  The British are making the Italians, French, and Belgians look like fools, countries who have produced numerous great cycling champions; Eddy Merckx, Gino Bartali, Bernard Hinault, Fausto Coppi!  The Spanish have produced many great champions Alberto Contador excepted; Federico Bahamontes, a naturally gifted legendary rider of exceptional merit.  What has Britian given us?  Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome?  Both British Tour de France champions are suspected of achieving success from performance enhancing drugs!

I hope this change in the UCI leadership is something more than a cosmetic sea change that amounts to more of the same.  Of course, who would deny that ridding cycling of Pat McQuaid is wrong?  Cycling was tainted from steroids and those who were accused of facilitating their use.  But what now?  Has cycling evolved, finally into a new "clean" era, and can the UCI administration "finally" be trusted to tell the truth in a honest, straightforward, and transparent manner?  Or when the evidence points to potential wrongdoing will we be fed more lies and deceptions?  Brian Cookson is an odd choice as UCI President given his potential involvement in a resurgence in British Cycling that makes no sense and is clearly suspect.  But why not give the man a chance to hang himself?  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Surrender Your Medal!

The USOC has finally emerged from a thirteen year comatose state and has demanded that Lance Armstrong voluntarily surrender his misbegotten bronze medal to the proper authorities based upon his confession of using performance enhancing substances; sans due process.  I am absolutely convinced that this new humiliation of Lance Armstrong will absolutely serve as a deterrent to neophyte aspirants to Olympic success that the glory achieved by doping is not worth the risk of detection, apprehension, and punishment.

Of course, this opinion as to the effectiveness of punishment thirteen years after the fact when it is very probable that every medalist in cycling during the steroid era used performance enhancing drugs: men and women who were never detected let alone punished; acts as an deterrent for neophyte Olympic aspirants refrain from doping, as the probability of being caught and punished is astronomically small during the Olympic games, let alone after a retrograde admission from a retired athlete.

One of my former heroes, Jan Ullrich won an Olympic gold medal.  Herr Ullrich was linked not only linked to Operation Puerto: but he also tested positive for amphetamines after taking the drug ecstasy during a rave.  Not only that but Herr Ullrich was Lance Armstrong's main rival for seven consecutive Tours de France and there is small chance that he rode clean during any of them. Nevertheless, there is no clamor among the outraged public that the International Olympic Committee investigate Herr Ullrich for possible doping during the Olympic games; or any suggestion that he confess to doping; or that his teammates exact revenge in sworn affidavits.  Nor did the IOC  demand that Rudy Pevenage be banned for life for his alleged involvement in cheating.  Nor did they demand that Herr Ullrich and Team Telekom become an international scandal and example of subterfuge.

Only in America do we drag our past heroes through the sewage exacting revenge; no other country in the world would ever consider doing something so despicable.  Yet who is the better model for our youth, Mr. Armstrong or Herr Ullrich?  One man is punished for his crimes and deprived of everything, while the other lives in luxurious surroundings fearing nothing, even though both men probably committed the same offense at the same time.  It is obviously better to embrace the notion that the ends justify the means; but not to do so for an extended period of time, since the distribution of punishment is focused and narrow, not widely distributed among the offenders.  One example is enough because the process extracts so much energy that success on either side leaves one exhausted.

It is also revolting to note that the very people who are rooted in bribery and corruption are the very people who are demanding retribution from athletes.  Examine the corruption that occurred during the Salt Lake City Olympic Games from members of the International Olympic Committee; men who accepted cash bribes, special academic scholarships for their children, and prostitutes.  Graft seems an acceptable tokens for Olympic games and the city that provides the greatest largess wins the prize.  Revolting conduct that only serves to demean international athletic competition.  But so what?  Cycling has people who are not above accepting cash to provide favors to selected individuals,  hypocrites who paint our sport with a tawdry brush.  Sadly, the majority of these people, like doping athletes, are impossible to eradicate from the sport.  They become entrenched with nothing to fear from outside interference, no matter how apparent their filth.

Lance Armstrong probably spit upon his Olympic bronze medal before he surrendered it to the United States Olympic Committee.  "One reptile devours another" as Ivan Karamazov stated to his brother Alyosha.  The feeblest criminal will be excoriated in disgrace, while those doing the flaying will be extolled as virtuous persons to be emulated; especially by our youth.  Liars!  The whole bunch should be swept out with a broom!    

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Court Orders Lance Armstrong to Testify

Lance Armstrong, poor misguided man and ex-doper who foolishly spilled his guts before an indifferent public who could not have cared less about his former doping exploits; has been backed into a corner with a foolishly misguided court order that demands that he openly testify as to whom and when his former confederates knew of his doping offenses during the seven long years that the cheater reigned as king.  The court is also very interested in statements that would implicate the UCI as participants in accepting bribes from the deposed kingpin. Then there are allegations of coverups that occurred over several occasions; allegations denied by Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen as malignant slanders. The Lance Armstrong saga is like a unending revolving door that is annoying like a persistent fly; some insurance company is suing Lance Armstrong to recover money that was paid out under fraudulent, misleading circumstances.

Travis Tygart, the USADA mogul cares very much about the results of this testimony, be assured.  Tygart appeared on some syndicated horse crap sports show talking smack about his private corporation that is funded with public money, as a constitutional entity based upon a decision of U.S. District Court judge Sam Spears; who opined that anti-doping arbitration offered due process to the defendant, not that due process was required. Where in the constitution is an American citizen denied the option to forgo due process?  Where in the constitution does it state that the prosecution has the option to act as judge, jury and executioner?  Where in the constitution does it state that solicited testimony may be acted upon without the accused being offered an opportunity to rebut this testimony under cross examination?

But Travis Tygart would argue that these constitutional protections are unnecessary because doping in sport is not a criminal offense, but a civil matter, and that when given a license to compete, the athlete agrees to abide by certain stipulations, including USADA testing and USADA prosecution of alleged doping offenses: that essentially to compete in professional cycling racing the athlete agrees to sign away certain constitutional rights.  The whole process from licensing to final arbitration and sanctions are private matters that are governed by private rules; rules that are agreed to in advance by the athletes.  So when the process is subjected to capricious and arbitrary changes the athlete has nothing to complain about.  Thus the evolution of the "non-analytical positives," suspensions based upon testimonials of ex-teammates who claim to have witnessed the use of prohibited substances "taken or distributed" by the accused person.  These statements by ex-teammates saves the investigatory agencies a tremendous amount of time and money and the subsequent expulsions of the accused may not require due process because the athlete may waive his rights.

Nevertheless, Travis Tygart will be more than enraptured to read any testimony that Lance Armstrong may provide to the court.  Feeling slighted because Lance Armstrong refused to testify under oath as to his doping past, Travis Tygart hopes that finally he will have the needed testimony to issue even further "non analytical positives" against potential wrong doers that he failed to catch in the first dragnet.  Of course, this testimony will fill in the gaps that were never explained in the first go around, not to mention a bases for an internal personal justification for the "fair" process that serves to protect the "clean" athlete and ensure "fair" competition.  All free of charge, provided by the chief kingpin, drug racketeer, and disreputable villain Lance Armstrong himself.

Icing on the cake, baby!  Lance Armstrong will be compelled to destroy lives and careers while Travis Tygart cheers from the sidelines!  Hooray! Champagne!  A toast to the death of villains!  Why consider whether these people were the victims of intimidation when they are such convenient victims of the "non-analytical positive," and serve as such succulent fodder for press releases.  Look at these horrific people peddling dope, our funding is justified, the process is working and generates results, outsiders have no reason to meddle.