Saturday, January 20, 2007

Totally Unbelievable Evasions

And the 2006 Tour Goes To: well, maybe not Oscar Pereiro after all, who tested poz for the banned asthma medication salbutamol in the 14th and 16th stages of the 2006 Tour de France. The catch? Why, our friends at UCI granted him a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the drug, though entirely by accident Pereiro failed to submit the required medical documentation until yesterday to the understandably peeved and skeptical French antidoping honchos. Ironically enough, who's hitting back? Again, the fine folks at UCI, gone quite postal at the suggestion that these things are handed out like candy to costumed tots at Halloween and thus tend to undermine UCI's constant antidoping bleating by permitting every second cyclist to scarf something off the banned list at the start line. (So now they're whining that the French care too much about doping? Perfect).

Anyhoo, apparently, a pre-'96 Olympics study showed that somewhere in the range of 45% of the cyclists, who for those of you unfamiliar with, say, the Tour the France, routinely climb gigantic mountains repeatedly in the course of a single afternoon, seem to have been diagnosed with some sort of asthma requiring meds. Let's leave aside for the moment the unusual suggestion by Pereiro's own doc that a normal amount of these asthma meds shouldn't have caused a positive test, and the fact that curiously, a similar proportion of the peloton shows no medical need for, say, downers as it does for drugs which may totally accidentally increase one's oxygen-carrying capacity. And let's leave aside even Pereiro's particular case, because we've no reason to doubt his particular integrity. However, a brief review of sez that asthma, the most common chronic illness in kids, only affects *5%* of adults in North America. Now, certainly I'm no mathematician--hell, I have trouble enough figuring out the proper tip for a mocha at Starbucks. But am I the only one to whom these stats seem a bit, well, odd?

Oh, Pat: meantime, perhaps in a bid to divert attention from the embarrassing Pereiro situation, particularly given that he shamelessly attacks anyone (like Ullrich) who actually *doesn't* test positive, UCI's McQuaid has now slimed yet more innuendo on poor Jan, suggesting that he's heard the Swiss have more'n just the Fuentes situation to stickpin on him, and that he "speculates" that there are also ongoing investigations into Jan's scumly conduct in Belgium and Germany. In the interests of evenhandedness, Dick I mean Pat, therefore I "speculate" you're flat pissed you haven't been able to nail Jan fairly, so you're bushwhacking him with yet more impossible-to-defend- against baseless accusations, you cowardly troll!

Equal Opportunity in Action: now that women have really made inroads into this beautiful sport, I see that 2001 World track silver medalist Tammy Thomas, banned for life in '02 for testing poz for the obscure steroid Norbolethone, pleaded guilty in US federal court this week to lying to a grand jury in connection with the mostly-unrelated-to-cycling BALCO scandal, proving we can be just as venal and seduced by glory as the boys. Max penalty for each count: 5 years in the big house and a $250k fine. St. David Millar, however, got off the hook in French court, not because he didn't dope, but because there was insufficient evidence presented to determine whether or not he did it in France. Apparently, Millar's wah-wah confessionals stop when it comes to saying where he doped, if it could get him into additional trouble. Glad to see you're willing to come clean when there's an actual current risk to you, David!

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