Tag Archives: Performance Enhancing Drugs

News That’s Fit To Punt – 05/Jun/2013

We Hate Them, We Really, Really Do

Peter Hartcher has this article about the state of political leadership in Australia. The gist of it is a list of how many ways the Labor Government has failed us, and also how little Tony Abbott has offered as an alternative. the punchline comes down to this bit:

The key difference is that the voters are more disillusioned with Gillard’s government than they are with Abbott’s opposition.

Both leaders’ approval ratings have gone backwards over three years, but Gillard’s has gone back further.

And Labor has been in a losing position for all 29 of the 29 Nielsen polls in the life of this Parliament.

“That has never happened before” in the 40-year history of the series, Stirton says.

Labor’s remaining hopes, which are vanishingly small, rest almost entirely on a plan for a final, frenzied assault on Abbott as sinister, unhinged and unreliable.

Meanwhile, the Liberals will remind us, at every opportunity, of the depths of Gillard’s deceit.It will be a long 100 days ahead.

Oof. There’s no saving grace there. The electorate isn’t listening to the ALP government because they’ve had enough of the hung parliament, and they’ve certainly had enough of the ALP in NSW to last a generation. For whatever it is worth, I just don’t see NSW going back to the ALP for a decade, if not 15years. The Eddie Obeid business has exposed the ALP and there’s simply no amount of campaigning that’s going to fix what has been uncovered. In NSW, the ALP is the party of excess, sleaze, corruption, and horrible woggy names like Tripodi, Arbib and Obeid. In the current mood of punishing refugees and foreigners, there’s really not much support for the party of the children of immigrants.

On that level, the ALP has really well and truly screwed the pooch. Thus, the ALP has entered the twilight zone of lame duck governments. As such, some members like Joel Fitzgibbon are indulging in a bit of gallows humour. It looks like they’ve given up on shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, they’re going to join the band as the boat goes down. The aftermath of all this is going to be interesting because ALP internal polling shows that in Queensland, Kevin Rudd might be the last man standing. The ALP is facing a landslide the magnitude of losing somewhere around 34 seats from their current 72. That’s a lot of politicians, suddenly able to pull down on their ample superannuation payments. You kind of wish they wouldn’t lose so badly if only to help the budget bottom line of the nation. Maybe after such a monumental defeat, the ALP will be able to do some reform they sorely needed to do after their 1996 defeat.

I can’t begin to tell you of my disgust that Tony Abbott is likely to be our next Prime Minster, but as they say – in a democracy, you get the leaders you deserve. Clearly what e deserve is a gigantic enema.

ASIC’s Tough Day At The Office

You gotta laugh when ASIC are finally called to task on the terrible job they did.

 

Senator Doug Cameron put the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on notice on more than a dozen questions relating to its conduct in the affair during a Senate Estimates hearing last night, including a demand for an estimate of the amount of money clients had lost because the regulator repeatedly ignored warnings from whistleblowers.

The questions were delivered rapid-fire after Senator Cameron accused ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell of failing to adequately respond to questions delivered earlier in the hearing by Nationals Senator John Williams.

“This is a very serious issue for ASIC, it’s a serious issue for the government and all the senators are concerned about it. So just don’t take me on a waltz around the merry-go-round. Take that on notice.”

The hearing follows a Fairfax Media investigation that found the CBA had concealed improprieties by financial planner Don Nguyen who once controlled about $300 million in retirement savings on behalf of at least 1300 clients. Mr Nguyen, who has been banned by ASIC for seven years, allegedly forged client signatures, created unauthorised investment accounts and overcharged on fees. Some clients lost more than half their life savings, forcing them to seek help from Centrelink as they battled with CBA for compensation.

Senator Cameron demanded to know why Mr Nguyen received only a seven year ban after “engaging in illegal activity”, which meant he could once again act as a financial planner in 2018.

“Give us the details and the arguments that you went through to deliver a seven year ban and why you didn’t seek a ban for life on this individual who was destroying the lives of ordinary Australian citizens,” he said.
Mr Kell defended the regulatory and oversight regime that was in place at the time of the alleged abuses from 2006 to 2009, although he acknowledged that standards at CBA’s financial planning arm were “considerably below what was required”.

They sure get little sympathy from me. ASIC just don’t enough of anything.  At about the same time that went to the wires and interwebs, sharing a headline with it was this article:

BusinessDay has contacted many of the borrowers to confirm this. The borrowers, many who are pensioners and small business people, cannot afford a lawyer. Of these complaints, many had Loan Application Forms (LAFs), which they claimed had been tampered with, attached.

“ASIC has close to 100 LAFs from members (of her action group Banking & Finance Consumers Support Association) who say they wrote letters to ASIC and lodged formal complaints and attached the offending LAFs,” said Ms Brailey.

“Others wrote letters (another 60 people or more) that were formal complaints that contained no LAF.  Every one of my members says they received an identical form letter from ASIC.”

As reported on Monday, the veteran consumer rights campaigner has made public 2500 private emails and bank documents to expose what she describes as ”Australia’s subprime crisis”.

Ms Brailey claims that lenders and mortgage brokers tampered with documents to provide more credit for borrowers with ”low-doc” loans.
She says she is making private documents public after years of trying to get corporate regulators to investigate the banks and other lenders over what she alleges is ”systemic fraud” in the ”low-doc” market.

Low-documentation loans are made to borrowers such as business owners who can’t prove a regular income, but the borrower signs a declaration as to estimated income. The loans usually carry a higher interest rate than other loans, as they are seen as more risky.

Of the borrowers who have asked for help from Ms Brailey’s action group, Banking & Finance Consumers Support Association, 1170 of them claim their loan application forms (LAFs) have been tampered with. In most cases, the income figure has been increased to justify more credit. “There is not one clean ‘LAF’ among them,” said Ms Brailey.

The banks and the corporate regulators reject Ms Brailey’s claims. They say fraud in the low-doc loan market is the fault of ”rogue” mortgage brokers.
In his repudiation this week of the Brailey claims, Mr Kell said ASIC had recently banned seven mortgage brokers for fraud or misconduct relating to loan applications.

Somehow I don’t think that would wash with Doug Cameron, do you?

Sport Nut News Day

Today’s gush of news that’s worth kicking around is dominated by sporting news. First cab off the rank is the news that Energy Australia have pulled out of their sponsorship program, a mere 12months into their contract.

It is another body blow to SA, which is trying to rebuild after Australia’s disappointing London Olympic performance tainted by the Stilnox controversy.

“This is a difficult time for Swimming Australia and we recognise there are no easy solutions,” SA CEO Mark Anderson said in a statement.
“This is obviously disappointing but we respect the decision.”
Before Energy Australia’s bombshell, SA were also coping with the Australian Sports Commission’s decision in April that it would cut swimming funding by $500,000 for 2013.

It marked the first time it had been cut since the 1980s.

“Financial support from sponsors is important to the success of Australian swimming, but ultimate success in the pool is built upon hard work and a strong and stable supporting organisation,” said Anderson, who is a month into his new job.

“During this rebuilding phase, Swimming Australia is committed to ensuring that swimming returns quickly to where it belongs at its rightful place as Australia’s No.1 Olympic sport.”
The SA board gathered in Sydney on Wednesday before confirming the sponsorship deal was dead in the water.

That’s some straight up ugly consequences from last year’s debacle at the London Olympics. The line the press is running with this is that Energy Australia have had enough of the scandals coming out of Swimming Australia. It’s sort of surprising it has taken this long in some ways, but there is certainly a whiff of inevitability about this sponsorship deal breakdown. It’s certainly hard to believe all this talk about changes in governance and culture after the CEO is forced to resign for making inappropriate comments. I sort of let the racism debate coming out of AFL last week slide, and the subsequent brouhaha with Eddie Maguire just slide with it, but it has to be said Australian sports administration is stuck in some kind of time warp.

The other interesting sports news is how the Parramatta Eels have announced mid-season that they’ll be moving 12 of their players out of the club.

After years of underperformance – including “winning” the wooden spoon last year – the club has decided to act. In a letter to Eels fans and members, chief executive Ken Edwards declared it was time for the playing group to be “accountable” for the woeful results.

“In Rugby League, we are judged on the field by our performance and ultimately results,” Edwards wrote.

“In recent times the Parramatta Eels have not fared well in either category. Our Members, Fans and Sponsors deserve and demand more than what we have achieved and today the Eels declare that enough is enough.

That’s a big call. What’s interesting about this is how they’re making the call midway through the season; as well as announcing to the rest of the world they’re giving up on the current club as they blow it all up and attempt a rebuild. Not only are they punting these players, they’re punting the season away. Certainly, if you know you’re not going to be counting on these 12 players, what possible purpose could there be in running them out each week. If this is a rebuild, you would expect they’d be immediately benched and you would start playing the younger, upcoming players. It seems brave to decide the rebuild starts now, but also incredibly foolhardy to announce it to the rest of the world. This is a really weird move.

Meanwhile over in America, there’ s news that twenty players may be suspended for 100games. The headliners on the list of players is of course A-Rod, Ryan Braun, and Melky Cabrera. The sound you’re hearing is a million fantasy baseball players clicking their mice, dropping A-Rod from their squads. The timing of the news is interesting because only two days ago, Hal Steinbrenner did a doorstop where he said the Yankees were disappointed at times with A-Rod. Why would he be saying that right now? Was he tipped off that this stuff was going down? If it happens and then A-Rod is suspended for 100games, would this void his contract? As the boys at BTF used to say a long while ago, “Is that even legal?”

 

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Cultural Differences

No Leaks

It’s been a weird week in Australian sport, what with the big press conference saying ‘This is The Blackest Day in Australian Sport’.

AUSTRALIA’S top sporting codes have been rocked by revelations that organised crime is behind the increasing use of banned performance-enhancing drugs by ”multiple athletes” across sporting codes and possible attempts to fix matches and manipulate betting markets.

The heads of all the main professional and participation sports expressed shock after being briefed on a 12-month investigation by the Australian Crime Commission that found professional sport in Australia was ”highly vulnerable to organised crime infiltration”

The article goes on to say that all of our codes of sport probably have had doping going on. Lance Armstrong’s name came up and some anonymous football player in some code even piped up during the week with an article saying what an edge it was to have the injection.
The declaration sent all these bodies scurrying for cover (how else do you explain the rush to declare “We’re clear!“); and swimmers saying they refused injection in fear it was contaminated with banned substances.

It’s interesting how the sport bodies have responded. the NRL has put together an ‘Integrity Commission‘, which suggests, they’re up to their eyeballs in the doping problem. The Minister for Sport says it’s ‘game over‘ for the cheats, but again you’d expect her to say it without any follow through – what else would we expect a Minister for Sport to say? “We give up?”

The strangest call of them all may be the call to name names mentioned in this one:

The Australian Crime Commission’s chief executive John Lawler hit back on Saturday at critics to clear up ”confusion” as to why he did not name names, given the explosive nature of the allegations.

Mr Lawler said classified strategic assessments had been sent to all police agencies around the country and Commonwealth agencies, which were now responsible for pursuing action.

”Very detailed information, the names of the clubs, the names of all the persons, the details of how, when and why and where, based on the intelligence, the persons suspected, has been provided to the anti-doping agency ASADA and to the police. Particularly the NSW and Victorian police,” he told Fairfax Media.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare echoed Mr Lawler’s comments as a number of sporting identities and commentators questioned the investigation and motives behind the report’s release along with its veracity.

Given the nature of the witch hunt that is about to ensue it seems entirely understandable that some people want the messenger shot. But really, with Australia’s insane libel laws, it would a brave ACC CEO who would start naming names. The way this normally goes is through leaks, starting at the biggest names in the various sports.

If this were America, somebody somewhere in the chain of information would leak to the press. After all, tat is how we found out about Barry Bonds and the clear and the cream; Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte using HGH; A-Rod being on some PEDs in his peak years in Texas; and ultimately Lance Armstrong as well. The cross-hairs a re firmly on performance-enhanced athletes now and the witch hunt is in full swing over there.

That such leaks have not happened seems to indicate that the ACC investigation was pretty subtle and went very deep. There also seems to be a cultural difference here as opposed America that the press are not willing to tarnish the names of the stars just yet. It maybe the case that the culture is about to change and professional sport will never again have the cozy relationship with the media as it does now.

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In The Shadow Of PEDs

Lancing the Boil? I Don’t Think So

This whole Lance Armstrong situation with his alleged PED use is getting much attention and I was going to write something about it yesterday when the USADA released the dirt it had on Lance Armstrong. The fallout from that report has been far reaching, and once again cycling is embroiled in a scandal about performance enhancing drugs. What’s even more dramatic is how Lance Armstrong has had his seven Tour de France wins taken away from him in the record books, although you wonder if the guys who came second in those races automaitcally get declared winners; and whether they’re going to get their big recognition in a group presentation event. I doubt they’ll do that.

As with all these things, it’s all circumstantial evidence, but a good mountain-load of it; meanwhile Lance Armstrong has quit the sport and won’t address the issue at all. We can only conclude from this that he probably did PEDs, and now he’s going to play the plausible deniability strategy right down to the line of utter, abject, total, improbability. You can only wish him luck in trying to persuade the world. Cycling is consequently in another one of its terrible turmoils, but in some ways this is no different to Major League Baseball. You could argue that at least the cheats are getting caught, even if it’s too late.

I might have blogged this a long while ago, maybe in one of the earlier incarnations of this blog, but I’m basically a great sceptic when it comes to sports and the record book. I have no choice, given the times I have lived in.

It started with Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and since then there have been a great deal many names who have been outed and hounded. Yet, Ben Johnson’s record stood unofficially for many years until quite recently when Usain Bolt started running amazing times. Carl Lewis ended up with the gold medal from Seoul in that event as Ben Johnson was disqualified, but years later, Carl Lewis himself was linked to to PEDs. More recently, Car Lewis has cast aspersions on the Jamaican sprint team suggesting they were doping in an elaborate manner.  If you said that Carl Lewis’ suspicions were credible, it would mean that Ben Johnson’s time in Seoul can only be beaten with more PEDs. And that’s just one example of how vexing the record book has become.

After Ben Johnson in 1988, I came to the conclusion that the PED problem was a problem of technological advancement, and that as new drugs were developed, there would have to be ever mew ways of testing for them. Whatever the case, no record book was going to be safe. I imagined a world where some sports would simply smash record after record with PEDs, while others stayed relatively inert, and with little excitement surrounding them.

Of course, the way this played out in the 1990s was that Major League Baseball’s players embraced PEDs, giving rise to amazing historic seasons by the likes of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, all on the backs of PEDs. After a long dearth, suddenly these hitters were producing seasons that matched or broke the feats of Babe Ruth’s greatest season. It was unthinkable if you exercised a rational statistical analysis, but suddenly McGwire and Bonds were not only smashing past Ruth’s single season mark of 60 homeruns in 154 games AND Roger Maris’ mark of 61 homeruns in 164games, they were posting 70+ homeruns.

Then, in the 2000s, they were all found out. Some said the record books were tainted, others argued that the record books were already tainted by ‘Greenies’ (amphetamines) in the 1950s and 1960s. It was worth asking, even if only rhetorically, what the hell did all of this mean? Consider for the moment that 3 out of the 4 members of the 40HR-40SB in a single season club Barry Bonds Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez were linked to steroids in their careers. The fourth member is Alfonso Soriano, and who knows if he was on PEDs that year that he accomplished the feat? It may come out yet.

And in some ways, this is the exact crux of the biscuit that Ben Johnson sits on in Seoul 1988, and Lance Armstrong with his 7 Tour de France wins, and the 70 McGwire homeruns and the 73 Bonds homeruns, and whoever else that won on the back of PEDs and got found out. The feats themselves cannot be undone. As per the joke, you cannot unfuck the goat. We may never know about Usain Bolt, but if we ever find out that he used PEDs, then it’s him on the same crux of the biscuit as Ben Johnson.So now, Usain Bolt is in PED purgatory with Alfonso Soriano and other record-setting athletes. Is it even fair that they get suspected?

What can these accomplishments possibly mean? If Lance Armstrong didn’t really win those 7 Tour de Frances because he was on PEDs, then what can it possibly mean to win the Tour de France?

It’s a mess – And we’re doomed to go through this again, some way down the track. Somebody is going to invent something that will enhance performances, and it will slip through the testing net; and as long as it’s there slipping through, we’ll never be sure that hat we’re seeing is what we think we are seeing in sport. The old adage used to be that only the sport scores were the unvarnished truth and facts reported in the newspaper. We find ourselves that even that is no longer true. It’s a fine mess.

So back to this Lance Armstrong thing. I can’t offer up anything for fans of cycling as to how to digest this fact. Armstrong was on PEDs, and he did it so well and systematically, he never got caught red handed. By doing so, he won an un-Godly 7 Tour de France titles – and that is likely so off the charts that you will never witness that again if you lived to 100 in the absence of PEDs. It’s so off the charts that even a non-cycling fan like me knew about it. It’s going to take a long time to digest and understand what exactly all that means in the sport of cycling. I sure as hell don’t know what to make of all these steroid tainted records I witnessed in the making. If there is one bit of advice I have, it is this: no amount of moralising is going to make this reality better. That much is most certainly sure.

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News That’s Fit To Punt 23/04/2010

In Brief…

Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt tested positive for anabolic steroids found in his over the counter penis enlargement product.

Merritt, who is also the world champion at 400 metres, said in a statement via his lawyer that he was “deeply sorry” at failing three doping controls for the banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone.

The 23-year-old American, who faces a two-year ban, said: “To know that I’ve tested positive as a result of a product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around.

Very unfortunate turn of phrase there…

ETS Fight Is Back On

So says K-Rudd.

KEVIN RUDD says the great moral challenge posed by climate change is undiminished and he will keep trying to implement an emissions trading scheme if Labor is re-elected.

In an interview with the Herald, Mr Rudd rejected growing criticism that he had abandoned the climate change cause because it was no longer a vote winner after the Copenhagen conference and the defeat of his emissions trading scheme.

“It’s very clear cut that whether climate change is topical or not, whether it is popular or not, the reality of it does not disappear,” he said.

“This remains a fundamental economic, environmental and moral challenge. Whether it’s newsworthy or not in a particular season is beside the point. We haven’t changed our view of this.”

The Senate has twice blocked legislation for the emissions trading scheme. The legislation is again before the Parliament but the Senate has delayed debate until at least next month and there is next to no chance there will be a vote before the election expected in the spring.

Mr Rudd said that if he is re-elected, he will try again to have a scheme introduced but it would depend on the make-up of the Senate.

”We’ve got to ensure that we act on climate change and we do so always within the scope of our powers. We maintain our position that this is part of the most efficient and most effective means by which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the least cost to the economy.”

Well it’s good to hear he still has the appetite for putting a price on carbon. There I was thinking that maybe there were secret briefings that told him an Ice Age was coming anyway and made all global warming redundant or something, but clearly that’s not the case.

It’s nice to know it’s on the agenda-radar again.

The Health Deal We Had To Have

A cool article from Peter Hartcher here.

Once the NSW Premier had landed in Canberra on Sunday, Rudd zeroed in on her as his first target. He assessed Kristina Keneally as the most likely of the three recalcitrants to yield because the NSW Government was in the weakest political position of the three, facing an election it’s likely to lose, and was the one most in need of a deal to deliver more hospital funds.

Under the offer already on the table, NSW stood to gain an extra $964 million in upfront Commonwealth health money over four years.

Before going to the dinner that Rudd was to host for all the premiers and their treasurers that night, the Prime Minister sweetened the offer to NSW by hundreds of millions of dollars and asked Keneally to commit immediately.

Keneally was not as desperate as Rudd had hoped, however. She refused to commit and said she needed time to think about it.

Just before all the premiers and treasurers were due to arrive at The Lodge for dinner, the treasurers’ invitation was cancelled. They were told that they would be dining separately at the Hyatt Hotel, with the federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, as their host. The state treasurers were unimpressed when they were led into a small, windowless dining room next to the hotel cafe. They were even less impressed when they tried to discuss key issues with Swan and he rebuffed them.

The state treasurers also asked Swan about the forthcoming Henry review of the tax system. ”No one will be worse off,” Swan told them, and otherwise wouldn’t tell them a thing, not even the date of its release. ”It’ll come when it comes,” he said.

To round out the experience the states again went at each other about the health deal, with John Lenders and NSW’s Eric Roozendaal defending their decision to reject the Rudd plan.

The state ministers concluded that Swan had been sent to ”mind” them so that Rudd could corral the premiers and try to win them over. It didn’t work.

That evening the state delegations heard unofficially that Rudd intended to hold them for a day longer than they had planned, into Tuesday.

The blow by blow of how these people staggered to the finish line is very interesting. Kristina Kenneally is still a stinking mess of a premier and really, this does not raise her from the low estimation in which I hold her; but all the same she did all right to bluff to K-Rudd that “we-was-not-so-desperate-yeah?”

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Roger Clemens’ Denial

What To Make Of This?

He really sounds like he means it when he says he never did it. Either he’s got extremely selective memory where he’s totally blocked out the fact that he did do it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard somebody have such conviction in their denial, but we all think he’s a liar on this subject, right?

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner also continued to deny that he was given steroids and human growth hormone by his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, saying it was “impossible” that drug paraphernalia supplied to federal prosecutors by McNamee has his DNA on it.

Clemens also said he still considers former teammate Andy Pettitte a friend, though he also held firm to his assertion that Pettitte “misremembers” a conversation in which Pettitte said they discussed performance-enhancing drugs.

“It’s piling on, it’s hurtful at times,” Clemens said of the allegations that have been made against him. “I’m trying to move on.”

Clemens, who is under a federal grand jury investigation for perjury following his testimony before Congress, said he decided to end his silence and react to the book because he plans to leave his Texas home for a week’s vacation.

“I was informed this book was coming out and thought we ought to talk about it,” Clemens told “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” “It’s important for me to do that.”

What a mess. I have no rational reason to believe he didn’t do it, and I have no rational reason to believe he did do it. It’s all circumstantial or bordering on hearsay, the accusations that are being made are simply staggering, and we just get to sit there and condemn the man in a kangaroo court of public opinion. It’s even worse than A-Rod in the sense that Clemens’ denial itself has become a some thing to ridicule – just as much as A-Rod’ apologies on admission. They can’t win. You can’t win. The press can’t win. The courts can’t win. Nobody wins. What a friggin’ mess!

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Athletes As Role Models

Matthew Johns, Group Sex Enthusiast

It’s coming to light that Rugby League celebrity Matthew Johns participated in a bit of group sex with the lads. He’s apologised for ‘it’ though it is unclear what bit exactly for which he is apologising.

ONE of rugby league’s famous faces and a much loved personality, Matthew Johns, is horrified that old claims of sexual misconduct in New Zealand made when he was playing for the Cronulla Sharks have been publicly revisited by the woman involved.

“I am very sorry for all the trauma and embarrassment this has caused for everyone, but particularly for my family,” said Johns about the public outing of his involvement.

Channel Nine, which employs Johns as a rugby league expert, last night went public with his response to the yet-to-be aired allegations about footballers and group sex scheduled for Monday night’s Four Corners on ABC1.

Johns says he had consensual sex with the woman seven years ago and he was upset, particularly for his children, that the woman was making the claims again.

At the time it was known that three Sharks players were allegedly involved in the incident after a preseason game in Christchurch. None of the players was named publicly.

But privately Johns had spoken to his wife Trish about the incident. Last night Johns fronted his usual Thursday night television program, The Footy Show, and spoke emotionally about the drama. “It put my family through enormous anguish and embarrassment and once again for that I can’t say I’m sorry enough … there has been a lot of pain and embarrassment to a lot of people.”

Awesome! Sweet!

What kind of man has Group Sex? In a day and age where we say, “not that there’s anything wrong about that!” about gay sex, we sort of have to ask this question in order to get a sense of what the social norms might be pertaining to this heterosexual activity of group sex by football players. And it has to be said, it is kind of weird to want to have group sex as portrayed by these articles. I’m not sure I would want my team mates watching me shag a girl in a hotel room, and then watch them do the same girl. If I were more poignant, I might point out that I’d rather not have ‘sloppy seconds’ either; so this whole group sex thing has got to be a sub-cultural phenomenon of League players, right?

Then there’s the question of consent in such a context. How do you get consent for something like this? How does a girl find herself consenting to this sort of thing with a group of footballers? I don’t mean to blame the victim here, but it does strain credulity for Johns to say it was all consensual. I mean, did they pass minutes around and counter sign it before hey all joined in the orgy? how the hell does this all work?

Maybe I’m a little squeamish. Then again, I’m pretty squeamish about gay sex as well so I’m in the crowd that says “not that there’s anything wrong with that!” with a great deal of irony.   Y’know, there just might be something *wrong* about it on my own personal level.

Didn’t Seinfeld joke about this sort of thing? I think he said that if one joins in the ‘orgy crowd’, one must change friends, clothes and everything else, and then grow a mustache. Perhaps that is what that Reg Regan’s mustache is all about?

Meanwhile Manny Gets Done

Turns out Manny Ramirez too was on PEDs. He was on Gonadotropin, which he claims was for a sexual dysfunction, but is something that raises the level of Testosterone. Great.

Manny Ramirez is always going to have this 50-game bust for performance-enhancing drugs hanging over him, no matter what he says, no matter whether he comes back strong in July, no matter that he says he tested clean 15 times in the past five years.

With his suspension on Thursday, Ramirez joins Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and ultimately Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada on the mental list of players who were dirty, or probably dirty.

Ramirez and his helpers can issue all the statements they want about his having been given a drug for a personal health issue and that it turned out to be illegal under current baseball rules, so he must technically take the blame. That is just not going to work.

Too many of us are beyond the giddy time when we could say, poor feller, he should have checked the label on the teabag while he was having a cuppa with the queen. They are responsible. They know that. Athletes spend much of their waking hours not just studying their opponents’ moves but also accumulating information on what will make them bigger, stronger, faster. These people could pass a pharmacologist examination.

It’s quicker to count up the guys who have 300+ HRs that likely aren’t on PEDs now. The currelynt untainted list starts at Ken Griffey, Jim Thome, Carlos Delgado, Chipper Jones, Vlad Guerrero, Jim Edmonds. Of this list,  I feel less confident about Thome, Guerrero, and Edmonds, but I have no proof whatsoever. Count me a Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones fan for them to make the Hall – until proven guilty, as we’re finding out.

Just to recap for us, here’s Jayson Stark:

We’d all love to believe that Manny’s intent, in taking this drug, was pure and well-intentioned. We’d all love to believe that his “personal health issue” was serious enough to require unorthodox treatment that isn’t even approved by the FDA.But face it, friends, if all the reporting is accurate, that would take the sort of leap of faith only Robbie Knievel ought to attempt.

We also need to recognize something important about baseball’s testing program: Its intent is not to catch innocent people who are using run-of-the-mill prescription medications because of pesky “personal health issues.”

Basically, the list of substances that can get you flagged fall into three categories:

1. Stuff you’d use to cheat.

2. Stuff you’d use to push the envelope as far as possible in the hope of legally enhancing performance.

3. Stuff you’d use to treat a condition that falls under baseball’s limited list of “Therapeutic Medical Exemptions,” such as ADD.

But there are no indications that either Manny or his doctors ever contacted the union or MLB seeking any type of Therapeutic Medical Exemption. So there goes that potential for an innocent mistake. And if that’s out, what does that leave?

He was using whatever he was using to enhance performance. That’s what.

And the rest of the world’s response is hand-wringing and rhetoric. I’ve come to terms with the PED-infested era in my own way. I just look at it as one big load of PR turkey that has come back to roost. We were all doomed the moment we bought into the significance of numbers. They’re just numbers.

In case you want to see a columnist do a mental somersault just to cope, here’s Bill Simmons. Welcome to the world of Yankee fans, Red Sox fans. It truly sucks.

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Enhancing A-Rod

The Olympic Ideal of Performance

I was walking on a flat paved road a couple of days ago, pondering how a flat track pavement would have been a bit of a marvel to a caveman. Maybe it was a marvel even to a human being in the ancient world. You see, I walk across an uneven lawn park to get to the stretch of pavement that leads me to the place where I get lunch. So the difference is noticeable when it goes from the uneven grass in the park to the pavement.

I thought to myself that one could imagine that the ancient olympics might have started this way; that some guys boasting about how fast they ran or how far they could throw stuff, so they decided to create a neutral ground to eliminate the discrepancies of uneven grounds and came up with a flat track. And on this extremely artificial phenomenon of a flat track, they would standardise the conditions for the contestants and let them run.

Nobody really knows how the Ancient Olympics started in the ancient world, but you’d have to figure it had to be about settling who gets the bragging rights as fastest man over 100 cubits or whatever. The point is that the notion of fairness goes hand in hand with the notion of standardised conditions.

All the same, we compare records across time. When somebody breaks a record, it is often in slightly different conditions to when the previous record was set. For instance, in the modern Olympics have been getting tracks that are ‘faster’ then the older tracks. Swimming pools have bee built so as to remove adverse waves, which in turn produce faster results. Modern shoes have been engineered to better specifications than say those of Emil Zatopek. Do we dare even go into the engineering and technologies that go into regattas and bicycle riding?

In all of these cases, what nobody is saying out loud is that technology is helping the athlete more than for which the media or punters give credit. Nobody really questions the records that get broken by historically newer athletes, with better equipment, even though it seems mightily unfair to compare these numbers. After all, we’ll never know what Dawn Fraser would have been able to do in the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre’s pool at her peak. Clearly technology is playing a part in all these accomplishments.

Which of course then brings us to PEDs, notably those used by the East Germans in the 1970s. Some of the records set then have taken a long time to break precisely because it has taken that long for the other technologies to compensate for the absence of the biochemical technology used by the East Germans way back when. Yes, it was grossly unfair that the East Germans were using them and the other athletes were not. Yet it seems to me today that the basis for this ‘fairness’ which creates the moral outrage is actually not quite as cut and dry as WADA and the IOC and the other anti-doping agencies make out.

For instance, Shane Warne underwent a year of being banned from the Cricket because he took a banned diuretic (to look better). It was doubtful he took it to enhance his performance, but he was banned on principle. We won’t go into the fact that this is in stark contrast to Murali who regularly gets pinged for his dodgy action, or the unlikelihood of the diuretic assisting Warnie in getting wickets. The logical corollary of banning Shane Warne is that anybody who is a leggie bowling for the weekend club is going to have their performance enhanced. Not many people buy this corollary to be likely.

The point is that the benefit of the biochemical technology may not be as significant as people give it credit, while other technologies in sport are influencing the outcome to a degree that it might not just be the flat-track that people still believe it to be. As far as I know, nobody has been able to quantify just how much drugs are in sport, and yet any time a name gets linked to it, we turn it into a witch hunt, demonising the person.

Let’s face it, games like cricket and baseball have actually been less influenced by technological agencies as say, even tennis or squash with their new-fangled racquets, or for that matter swimming.  I mean, yes, PEDs in swimming might be a bigger problem than in cricket, but nobody talks about those pools and the borderline-buoyant swimming costumes.

Which brings me I guess to A-Rod. When I look at A-Rod’s accomplishments, I can’t imagine I could do what he has done even with PEDs. It’s not just guess work, it’s probably a statistical likelihood that had I taken gobs of PEDs since my teenage years, I still wouldn’t have ended up playing baseball professionally, let alone reached the pinnacle of performance as he has. Seriously folks, I wanted to be the slugging 3B for the Yankees and be their franchise player but it sure wasn’t to be! 🙂

That would be because I have insufficient talent, as in I suck; And I didn’t try at all once I realised I sucked. Steroids and their ilk alone would not have carried me there.

Given that it does takes more than just getting injections of weird steroidal chemicals to get to where he has got, I think it’s time to actually give some credit back to the effects of true talent and hard work. Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens and Mark Magwire  are/were all amazingly talented dudes who made sacrifices to do what they did. We’re over-rating the effects of Performance Enhancing Drugs every time we subscribe to the witch hunt.

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