Saturday, December 15, 2007

"M" on finances of athletes vs ADAs

M sends along the following; compare to the Velo Vortmax link of yesterday...

Who is at a financial disadvantage, the anti-doping organizations or the rich professional athletes and sports machine?

Some evidence from Don Catlin. 2005 data. UCLA lab total budget $2 million for all testing and research to develop new tests, and $83 per steroid screen. USADA total budget $11 million. USADA costs expended per violation: $320,404. WADA total budget $23 million for all sports including amateur and Olympic. Worldwide anti-doping research budget estimated at $22 million.


Landis expenditure $2 million to fight his case, income multiple millions? Income: Barry Bonds $22 million, Lance Armstrong $26 million, Patrick Sinkewitz $600,000 Euros, Ulrich multiple millions, etc. etc. The professional sports machine has income in the billions of dollars.

Tests exonerate 10 guilty dopers for every positive.

So tell me why a rational profit maximizing professional cyclist even if he didn't want to dope wouldn't have an overwhelming incentive to dope, since his chances of getting caught are so small and his chances of winning against those who do dope would be relatively small.

"But, before it was economics that had him doping: only who doped stood a chance. Only who win made it to the media, and that makes sponsors happy. Only happy sponsors come back next year with new money."

I'm not even considering professional baseball and football where there are powerful players union and rich owners.

Some supporting quotes:

"Catlin says he thinks his lab, owing to caution, exonerates ten guilty EPO users for every one it declares positive. He says he's so fed up with the politics of the test that he's decided not to reapply for a USADA grant that supports the EPO research in his lab."

"Catlin is almost militant in his view that the system is grossly underfinanced. The testing program in his lab runs on about $2 million per year, supported by fees. (The standard steroid panel I watched cost USADA about $82.) Catlin can reinvest some of these proceeds back into the lab, but the rest is turned over to UCLA, which owns the facility. If Catlin wants to do research or buy new machines, he's dependent on grants, mainly from USADA or WADA.

He estimates the worldwide research budget at somewhere between $20 million and $25 million per year, about what Barry Bonds will make this year ($22 million) and a pittance compared with the billion-dollar TV deals for major sports. The IOC may be a huge multinational business, but WADA still has to beg money from it, and, Pound says, outside agencies that could kick in, like government health institutes and philanthropists, "are far more interested in finding a cure for cancer or diabetes rather than analyzing urine of perfectly healthy athletes."

"The pro cyclist Joerg Jaksche is, next to Jan Ullrich, the second German cyclist on the customer list of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. For a year he's denied this. Now he is making himself available as the star witness to the prosecution - and tells his story of his doping career."

Jaksche about 2004: "Riis knew about the doping, of course. He says things the way they are. I think he was conflicted between what was possible in his heyday and what’s possible today. There was a gradational shift from the vision of a clean sport and knowing, that you just can’t compete without the doping. There existed then the options to take ACTH (Synacthen, a synthetic stimulant causing euphoria) and other stuff that’s quasi-legal because they aren’t named on the anti-doping lists. But, the purpose was the same: doping. Generally the performance platform went down this year a bit. The hill times were a bit slower. No comparison to 1997, when the 50 hematocrit value was instituted."

Jaksche today: "These are the moments when you sit and think. Is this the right thing to do? I know that this decision will probably have very far reaching consequences. I am scared of the consequences. I still have doubts about doing this and will probably have doubts even after the article is printed. I like Stanga and Bjarne and don’t want to harm them in this. Bjarne is putting 500 000 Euro toward an anti-doping system in his team CSC this year. His personal money, and not, like at T-Mobile, the money of the sponsor.

Spiegel: Why is Riis doing this only now?

Jaksche: He’s gotten that it has to change or the sport will meet its downfall. Of course it’s an economic decision, he wants to make money with his team. But, before it was economics that had him doping: only who doped stood a chance. Only who win made it to the media, and that makes sponsors happy. Only happy sponsors come back next year with new money."


the Dragon said...

Please don' make me cry!

With WADA World arrogance, they excuse and condone any lab error, while dropping the hammer of "strict Liability" on the most innocent athlete errors, no sorrow here. If they had a bit more humility, and were actually looking for answers and accuracy rather than convictions on suspect evidence to increase funding they would have my support.


bostonlondontokyo said...

Interesting piece, and a nice break from peak evaluations. I can't help but cringe when I see 'anti-doping research budget estimated at $22 million' - mon dieu! I'm sorry, but I can't help but think what amazing good that would do for so many impoverished children. I know, it's so off-topic, but sometimes we need something to center ourselves again. And yes, that SAME sentiment applies to A. Rodriguez' salary as well.

C'est Une Erreur said...

M, I think you are disingenuous and incomplete in your argument. If you are going to throw in professional athletes who are not subject to WADA testing, at least pull the numbers budgeted for things like MLB’s testing program. It has been said that the 20-month Mitchell investigation cost MLB more than $20 million. How much does the NFL spend on its program? The NBA? The NHL? As perspective, I read somewhere that the State of California spends $3M+ on its horse racing drug testing program.

Additionally, before screaming “ADA poverty” it would be important to know, of all the athletes subject to WADA-type controls, who make the highest salary. Perhaps LA was up there and maybe, of the total group, some cyclists are paid well, however it is worth noting that despite these few, the large majority of fencers, gymnasts, bobsledders, etc., make very, very, very little money and are the true "amateur" athletes contemplated to participate in the Olympics. It is these athletes who are the disadvantaged in the current testing/adjudication program relative to rights and due process.

At some point, we must discern between the "Professional" Sports filled with adult entertainers and the "Olympic" Sports as the forum for amateurs to have their place for highest achievement. This critical separation does not mean the “Pro” have a free pass but must factor specific work-related rights and privacy issues, more so than the “Amateur” who toils not for the financial gain but for the “Spirit” of the competition.

One area where this line can be drawn is in the world of American football. The NFL is a different animal than the NCAA. Both make HUGE money but in the NCAA the “Amateur” athletes are compensated with scholarship and compete as the student-athlete. The NFL “Professional” player is highly compensated based on results, stats and winning. If an NCAA player/team does not do well, it does not lose scholarships. In the NFL, revenues are shared but many incentives are there to win and be the best. Drug testing is built into both worlds but is a far more negotiated and abbreviated program as it relates to professional, with workplace discipline more in line with other professions represented by a union. Punishments at the “Amateur” level are far more harsh and dealt in a grossly one-sided affair, whether it is the NCAA docking scholarships, USADA ending so-called “Careers” or WADA building self-serving rules to facilitate their continued existence, i.e., winning the war on PED’s.

Also, as it relates to sports, let's not forget it is the IOC who blurred the line by allowing "Professionals" to participate in the games. This is a testament to their desire to offer the best “Product” at the highest price. In light of this, take a look at how many tests performed on USA Basketball players in the selection pool, or look at the number of USA Hockey tests. Somehow, these “Professionals” are only subject to WADA-style testing during a specific period once they agree to be in the pool. They, in effect, have an “opt-out”. For the distinction to be unilateral, any athlete who is a “Professional” deriving the majority of their income from a contract to compete in the sport should have the ability to “opt-out” negotiated by their sport so that they can avoid the WADA-type controls and adjudication until a time at which they decide to be part of the “Movement”. Until such a time, they may compete in their profession, represented by a union, with a fairly negotiated drug-testing scheme that better serves the “worker” in their workplace.

Unfortunately, cycling is in the nether-void of "Professionalism". As Vino recently noted, cycling is too small financially to resist the tentacles of the IOC and find its own way. It has been too damaged by scandal to re-invent itself and does not have the financial footing relative to global properties, save the Tour de France, to offer the marketplace something of value. So it is entrenched in a spot where it is now further at the mercy of a disgruntled media, an emotionally wounded fan base and a governing bodies with neither the tools, creative problem solving or will to overcome its sullied past.

The “Entertainer” aspect of the “Professional” athlete also begs for examination. In the entertainment world (Music, Art, Theater, Movies) we are far more accepting of illicit behavior. Do we not celebrate the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix? Of course we do. I’d go so far as to guess that a certain Mr. Pound, Tygart and their contemporaries have many of these artists in their libraries. But these are drug-fueled expressions of creative artistry. Does any think when listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds that this is not a reference to LSD? Or does anyone proclaim “Is what I am listening to “Real””? Do the other artists who did not sell, in a competitive sense, as many records as Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band complain that the Beatles were “doped” or the commercial field was not level due to their obvious drug use? Heck no. Do any of us question what new designer drug they might have been on to propel their creativity? Probably not. Do we launch retro-active investigations into what the band was on when they wrote, recorded or performed? Nah. Do we take away platinum albums if a guitarist is bustd for pot or coke? Uh, no. Do we inform our children that the Beatles were largely using any kind of drug they could get their hands on as part of their artistic journey? Doubtful. What we do is we sing along, reminisce of our own connection to the music and readily accept the result at face value: an incredible piece of music.

So why do we hold one set of “Professional” “Entertainers” to a completely different standard? They both perform for money. They both are in commercial ventures. They both are subject to media scrutiny and use the media to further their careers. It is this issue that is at the heart of the matter and the longer we subject “Professional Athlete Entertainers” to a system better matched to the intent and purpose of the competition, the longer we will maintain a grossly mis-matched set of expectations as to what “entertains” us.

m said...

cest une erreur,

My comparison was not meant to be precise, or just to apply to WADA, but to show the orders of magnitude between anti-doping efforts and the rich athletes.

I don't think you can credibly argue that the playing field is not grossly skewed against the anti-doping efforts, but if you want to try, put up some figures of your own.

Quoting Vino is laughable. The guy gets caught blood doping and he tries to divert us with some clap trap about how poor under financed cycling is being picked on by big bad WADA with its $23 million budget for worldwide enforcement in all sports, versus his own low estimate of what? $800 million euro revenues in professional cycling. The top riders are probably each earning over 1 million euros each. The team budgets are often 5-10 million euros. Notice how he doesn't trumpet his own innocence but diverts us with complaints about the system which caught him. Very much like Landis.

I do think there are some useful distinctions to be made between "sport" and "entertainment". I'm not sure where you were going with your comparisons though. However, I do think that doping strikes at the heart of why people watch professional cycling, and thus cannot be swept under the rug as in Professional Football "entertainment".

C'est Une Erreur said...

M said:

“I don't think you can credibly argue that the playing field is not grossly skewed against the anti-doping efforts, but if you want to try, put up some figures of your own.”

Well, this purported skew is only a reflection of its import. If fighting the use of illicit substances in sport were so important, it would be funded as such. Examining the source of WADA funds reveals that its dollars are split between participating treaty signees fees and the IOC. If it were so critical to the future of the Olympics that they rid themselves of PED’s they would ask for and get more funding. The IOC has enough cash, several Billion, to infuse WADA with enough to raw dollars to shore up the holes in detection by funding the necessary science. Is this the case? No.

The parallel channel, contributing countries, are posed with the funding scheme based on a formula that examines dollars to UNESCO and their participation at he Olympics. If WADA wants more, they need to ask for it and lobby to get it. Sell the problem. How fast to solve the problem is the next complication.

Let’s look at how/why this is occurring. First, I believe that the IOC and WADA benefits from having a problem to slowly solve even if as a PR/marketing exercise. If they just stamped out an HGH urine test, they would lose out on building up of the public perception as to the extent of the problem. They would lose out on shining a glaring light on those sports who do not work in the WADA world. They would also be forced to step into a grey area within China (where the HGH comes from) and turn over stones better left unturned until after the Beijing games. The IOC/WADA benefits from a slow build up of progressive problem solving as they can go outside their domain and press for the cash to solve the problem instead of spending the cash from their own coffers.

Second, I do see WADA being permitted to make a play to gain control of independent testing in major American sports. The simple fact that Richard McLaren was part of Sen. Mitchell’s team tells me the hooks are already being set. Even if it is solely as an administrative body, processing tests and pushing results to the MLB Union and MLB HQ, they now enter a completely new world of financial accessibility. I estimate the cost of administering a WADA-style program for MLB at around $15M/yr. No small sum, considering the WADA budget as is. Now, extend this to NFL football and watch out. It could take further congressional inquiry for these leagues to unwittingly be forced to turn over that kind of control but the pacing must be precise.

Third, I question the IOC/WADA desire to “solve” anything. They engineer their own existence to a large extent and the promise of breaking records and amazing feats captures the interest of the global media and public. To completely stifle all possibility of this promise and have a “dark-age” of performances when times slow, jumps are shorter and the feats less amazing make their jobs marketers harder to sell to the Coke’s, Visa’s and other global sponsors of the games. Balance this with a lack of whole-sale and dramatic increase in funding (like a doubling) to WADA begs the question of “Why are they not doing more?” The simple answer is “they don’t want to.”

There is simply no credible reason to say the ADA’s are disadvantaged when the funding is there but the question as to providing it has already been internally asked and answered.

Relative to cycling, Vino is clear and precise in his questions as to why the “Big Dollar” Euro leagues avoid the Puerto’s or similar. It is simply a money issue, which clearly points to a hypocritical disparity between the “Athlete”/”Entertainer” paradigm with the media and public that I previously mentioned. I make no claim as to Vino's innocence or guilt, or any other athletes for that matter, purely his astute observation that cycling is not dirtier than the other leagues but money changes the level and outfitting of the scandals.

m said...

Left out this killer quote from the German rider Jakshe:

"Spiegel: Would you still dope if you weren’t on Fuentes list?

Jaksche: Probably, I’m that good. Every normal human would think: This can’t go on like this, because at some point all the sponsors will be gone. But, if I weren’t on the list, I’d be training like a madman right now and still everyone in the field would leave me in the dust if I didn’t dope. If you know that the sport hasn’t fundamentally changed, which you have to assume, then you have just got to do whatever you can to keep up. One rider told me that because of the training controls on riders, there are now deals between teams and the UCI. At that point, you have to assume there are no changes. This rider told me this proudly. I just know: nothing’s changed."

The incentive structure forces to cyclists to dope as this quote illustrates.

C'est Une Erreur said...


You are beautifully proving my point. The incentive structure exists in EVERY sport where performance is rewarded with money. How the resulting problems are dealt with in other sports is contingent on the financial means of each sport.

Further, proving that this is not happening in other sports whose incentives/rewards are far greater?

Thus, further supporting Vino’s claim cycling is no dirtier than those bigger, better funded sports just more susceptible to getting hammered due to their relative economic anemia?

If it is still this way in cycling; drugs, corruption, known evasion techniques, how can any reasonable person make the claim that WADA/IOC are trying to solve the problem when what they spend and what they have available to spend are so disparate?

Bottom line: If the powers that be wanted to solve the problem, they could easily do so. The IOC is one of the most powerful marketing engines in the world. They have the ability to generate the money to solve the problem yet they choose not to. Figure that out and then we will be getting somewhere.

One clue is the “stepping stone” status of the sport of cycling, the ascension of Verbruggen within the IOC and his role in guiding the UCI to where it is today; the red-headed step-child of the IOC/sports press, ready to take a public beating for being a “bad boy” to prove to the neighbors that his parents are good disciplinarians. Would it serve to publicly beat the daylights out of Europe’s favorite son, “Soccer”? No, that gold-egg laying goose must be kept safe.

m said...

c'est un erreur,

"They have the ability to generate the money to solve the problem yet they choose not to. Figure that out and then we will be getting somewhere."

I don't agree with that. But if it were true it is even more true for the professional sports businesses like, baseball, football, soccer, and cycling. They have much deeper pockets than UCI or WADA. And it is much more true for the athletes/entertainers themselves, who have deeper pockets also.

If all you are saying is that if "X" made greater efforts they could solve a certain problem, then I won't argue with that general notion. The fact is that all economic actors have limited resources and have to make cost/benefit decisions about allocating same. The fact that they don't make those greater efforts doesn't mean they are secretly wanting the problem to continue as you seem to be arguing.

You seem to be calling for WADA to spend more money for enforcement. Is that correct, or are you just criticizing them for not spending enough?

On the flip side, the sports/entertainment governing bodies can increase the penalties for those who are found doping and make it easier to convict them and publicly condemn them. That will change the incentive structure also. Athlete/entertainers will be more likely to avoid any appearance of doping if the costs become too high.

Those are the trade-offs any new more effective anti-doping regime must contemplate.

the Dragon said...

Thankfully, WADA World will not be administering any US Sports testing. And, surely not adjudicating said results (questionable as they may be).

There are such things as Unions and Collective bargaining issues. Granted, Congress could mandate such testing, yet there is such an thing in the US as "Consitutionaal Rights" that EVEN Congress nor WADA World can abrogate, even though USADA is firmly grounded in their abhorance of Constitutional Rights.


the Dragon said...

One other important item.

The Baseball Union is by far the most powerful Sports Union by far, and much of the current PR problem can be laid at their door.

While I haven't read the Mitchell Report, it seems that while there are no new revelations, most, if not all of the revelations are old. Prior to 2002, where the Union was bullied by Congress to get on board with anti-steroid testing. Yes, there are a number of suspensions each year, yet that is not a significant number.

I don't see where WADA World type, destroy at all costs, regemin will happen. Congress might mandate such, yet I don't see the political landscape to get anything like that passed, much less win in the Courts.

If Congress were to try to tamper with Collective Bargaining Laws, I could forsee the WHOLE Union movement getting on board to oppose it, and they have power far in excess of their numbers. Throw in the segment of Libertarians/Conservatives who actually believe in Individual Rights, there will be many "sound bites" and speaches, and little concrete action. IMHO, of course.


C'est Une Erreur said...

M said “I don't agree with that. But if it were true it is even more true for the professional sports businesses like, baseball, football, soccer, and cycling. They have much deeper pockets than UCI or WADA. And it is much more true for the athletes/entertainers themselves, who have deeper pockets also.”

We must first make the distinction between “solving” a problem and “handling” one. I have a sense that the big sports “handle” the problem by subjecting the athletes to a very simple anti-PED program designed to create the appearance of integrity but filled with enough holes to prevent the massive, in-depth scandal like we’ve seen with Puerto, Telekom, Festina, etc. Does this "enable" the problem to persist? Maybe. But these are, for the better part, entertainers we are talking about, leaving the criminality aside for now.

M said “If all you are saying is that if "X" made greater efforts they could solve a certain problem, then I won't argue with that general notion. The fact is that all economic actors have limited resources and have to make cost/benefit decisions about allocating same. The fact that they don't make those greater efforts doesn't mean they are secretly wanting the problem to continue as you seem to be arguing.”

Again, we must look at the top of the money-pile to see who has the true resources to address the problem. WADA, via the IOC could be given enough money to essentially “solve” the problem. The fact that they don’t begs the question of “why?” which I conclude the answer is that THEY are not incentived to do so, for the reasons previously mentioned, including cost/benefit.

M said “You seem to be calling for WADA to spend more money for enforcement. Is that correct, or are you just criticizing them for not spending enough?”

I am simply stating the IOC could, if it chose to, enable WADA to be adequately funded for the research necessary to get the ADA’s the tools needed to address/solve the problem yet they don’t. I effectively see WADA as a sort of “lifeguard” for sports against PED’s. They don’t have enough life jackets so instead of getting their boss to buy more life jackets, they simply stand around describing the water while the weak, and the UCI is certainly weak, sports drown.

Enforcement is not really the primary issue. Penalties are already ruinous for an "amateur" and many "professionals". If the Olympic level athletes knew tomorrow that an HGH urine test was real and worked, and that there would be a three-fold increase in frequency of tests, that would be a real deterrent.

M said – “On the flip side, the sports/entertainment governing bodies can increase the penalties for those who are found doping and make it easier to convict them and publicly condemn them. That will change the incentive structure also. Athlete/entertainers will be more likely to avoid any appearance of doping if the costs become too high.”

Here is where we shift into an overly punitive way to think. This is fundamentally flawed thinking once considerations like “Due Process” and “Athlete Rights” are taken into account. You cannot simply “make it easier to convict them” without further diminishing the credibility of the ADA, as it is already easy enough. Public condemnation again strikes at the integrity of an ADA. This slippery slope is where we really are now; Reducing penalties if an athlete “rats” on someone else, increasing a punishment if an athlete claims innocence and fights and loses, or even the absolute ridiculous nature of trying to track athletes with a whereabouts system. Toss all of this. Use better science to make better tests and truly harmonize the processes across all the Labs and then you will gain back the trust of the athletes and find them more apt to comply with the rules. This requires money. Money the IOC simply won’t spend as it is a problem they don’t want to solve.

m said...

c'est un erreur,

Now that I see your full argument, I can see it is just an excuse for continued doping and protecting the athletes from being called to account for cheating.

You seem to be part of the crowd who blame the anti-doping folks, and give a free ride to the "poor" cheating cyclists and look the other way cycling businesses and teams.

That may be OK for baseball, and football as you seem to imply but is not the right road for professional or olympic cycling.

I can only see these types of arguments as diversionary excuses to attack USADA simply because they are nailing your hero and homeboy Landis.

the Dragon said...


Since you seem to ignore that 2 more WADA World Labs can't seem to follow WADA's suggestions.

You and OMJ may convince me that labs, at least in WADA World see no need to follow basic practice.

Maybe the better note to take from the latest case is that CAS precident has traction at least with some Arb's (would be very surprised to see McLaren on that panel). Maybe we will get another system defining precident from the Landis case.

Also, if m is just walking down the street and gets arrested and the police and prosecutor use questionable evidence and tactics to convict (ala Duke LAX), I'll be the 1st to your defense, even if an m,jr. comes on the board and says that I am supporting a criminal environment, just because I fight for due process and getting it correct.


m said...


This is not a criminal case where they have plucked Landis off the street and threatened to put him in jail.

The cycling bodies and businesses imposed these rules so as to give Landis the opportunity to earn the big bucks and also make some big bucks for the cycling businesses by doing so. Landis agreed to these rules. If those businesses want to tilt those rules further to make doping easier to prove, they are entitled to do so. In most businesses the employees can be fired for no reason or flimsy reasons in order to further the interests of the business.

C'est Une Erreur said...


This is quite sad. I engage you in a healthy, open discussion of our viewpoints and this is where it leads…effectively being called an athlete “apologist”.

You seem to imply that the fa├žade of a doping control program is OK for baseball or football. Huh? Please explain. Also let us know if you watch, follow or consider yourself a fan of any of these and, if not, is it because you feel their anti-doping programs are farcical or because you were picked last for the “team” in school.

And then state this is not the right road for cycling? Now we are all confused. What leads you to this conclusion? Is it now your clear understanding of the duality of purpose that the true “Professional Athlete/Entertainer” represents? And if so how does that contrast with someone who happens to pedal rather than shoot baskets? Explain.

I engaged you on your posting that you based on the premise that the ADA’s are the disadvangtaged/underfunded as compared to “Rich” athletes. I challenged you on which athletes, within the anti-doping governance, is rich. Tell me who is “Rich”?

Also, I challenged you with an over-aching position about the vigor and commitment to truly “SOLVE” doping of those who fund the ADA’s, specifically, the signatory nations of the code within UNESCO and the IOC. You offered nothing in response other than my position being a diversionary attack on USADA...???

Further, you make the rash reach when you claim Landis is my hero and homeboy, when nothing in my arguments or position directly makes use of him to support my perspective. I wonder why you’ve done that? Is it because I disagree with your assertions? Please explain.

If you want to make this about USADA, maybe you can somehow rationalize this: How is it that, if those who fund this fight on doping are truly serious about solving the problem, the USOC has REDUCED their funding for USADA from almost $4M/yr to slightly more than $2M/yr? Does the expression “Putting your money where your mouth is” make sense to you? Hone in on this one for me, OK? Dazzle us all with a nifty chart or tricky graph on the topic.

the Dragon said...


You are correct this is not a criminal case.

So why spend any $$$ at all.

Just give Brenna another several $$$ millions and have him walk down the start line and use his Rorschach sense to identify the dopers.


ps. yes employers can summarily fired employees at will, yet those employees have access to the legal system.

wschart said...

The ability of many employers to arbitrarily fire employees is overstated. I have worked for a number of employers, all of whom had procedures that, in theory at least, must be followed in order to terminate an employee, designed in part to protect employees and also, in all likelihood, to protect the firm from suits. Perhaps in some Ma and Pa store, Ma or Pa can just say "You're fired", but in any business much bigger than that, there is more involved.

The usual scenario is that the employee's supervisor will propose termination and document reasons why this should be done. The employee has some right to contest the charges. The final decision is rendered by higher level management.

I suspect that, at least here in the US, that someone fired by Ma and Pa might have a course of action in civil court if the firing was based on things like race, religion, politics, etc. Whether or not it would be worth it to pursue such a course is something else again.

The idea that someone gives up all rights to defend himself by taking out a pro license, or gives up any right to say "Things should be run differently" is ridiculous. Especially since a cyclist has no other choice if he intends to follow cycling as a career. If a cyclist doesn't like, for example, Slipstream's AD program, he can seek a position with a team that doesn't have such a program in place. However, if he doesn't like the UCI/WADA program, he has little choice if he still wants a cycling career. At this point in time, I know of no pro cycling competition that is run outside of the UCI system.

Larry said...

ws, you all are referring to a legal doctrine called "employment at will". There's a reasonably good wikipedia article on this topic if anyone is interested.

The doctrine is subject to limitations, does not exist in every state, does not apply in Western Europe (I don't think), does not apply to union employees, and of course does not apply where there's an employment contract.

In California, where Floyd and I live, the doctrine does not exist.

Unknown said...

M, would mind me asking:

What do you do for a living and what's your real name?

The reason I ask is why are you so Pro WADA and feel as though every athlete is guilty of doping?


wschart said...


I am somewhat familiar with "employment at will", having lived and worked in Texas for 10 years. I was partly talking about policies in place in a business or public agency, not necessarily mandated by state law. Every employer I worked for in Texas had policies and procedures in place which, in effect, made it impossible for one's boss to simply say "you're fired!", a la the Donald.

m said...

I'm tempted to say what a load of legal crap, but won't because I haven't researched the law of at will employment recently.

At will employment means you can be fired for any reason unless it's against some public policy, like race discrimination. At will employment is the dominant doctrine in the vast majority of states including California and Texas.

WSchart is not a lawyer and is full of crap.

Larry, I'm surprised you would claim the at-will doctrine is not the predominant employment rule in California, with a few little nitpicks as in the case of Dore v. Arnold Worldwide.

Here are two articles that explain at will in California.

At will employment can limited by written contract or sometimes an implied oral contract, but in the absence of that you can be fired for any reason. The majority of workers in this country fall under the at-will doctrine.

Landis had a written contract with UCI, but he only gets the rights specified therein, which like I said gives him vast protections compared to most workers in the U.S.

After writing this I'll say it. What a load of legal crap.

m said...

And one other thing, even if you are protected by a legal contract and only can be fired for "good cause", good cause always includes conduct injurious to the business's legitimate interests. Doping was injurious to Floyd's contract with UCI aimed at promoting a fair cycling business and Floyd's contract with his cycling team Phonak.

UCI farmed out its drug testing to WADA whose rules deal mainly with amateur sports competition. Those rules afford Landis far more protections than any private business's drug testing rules.

Larry said...

m, I know California law and California practice under that law. I was not trying to write a legal treatise on California employment law. There are commentators who say that California has employment at will subject to major exceptions. There are commentators who say that California does not have employment at will because of the nature of these exceptions. I know from my experience in California that employers here are generally very careful about firing employees, and that the HR practice here is to assume that the doctrine does not apply in California. If you want to disagree with the conclusions I've stated here, or the way that I stated them, you are of course free to do so.

m, I've made a personal decision with regard to you, one that I will try to express politely and with the respect I think you deserve. I participate on this forum because I enjoy the experience. I no longer enjoy the experience of the dialog between us. Over the past weeks, I have found my encounters with you to be increasingly unpleasant. So, this is the last piece of direct correspondence I plan to have with you. I understand that you may interpret this decision as some sort of personal triumph on your part, and I can live with that.

I encourage you to remain on this forum, and to continue your active participation. Your presence here is, I think, appreciated by most everyone.

m said...


I'm sorry if you feel that way. I've always appreciated your even tone. I sometimes do get excited and angry, and tired at having to respond to idiot posts. I don't regret that with some of these posters, but I do regret that with you. My apologies.

Mike Solberg said...

m wrote:
I sometimes do get excited and angry, and tired at having to respond to idiot posts.

I hope you don't mean Mr. Idiot posts!


bostonlondontokyo said...

c'est une erreur, I was surprised to see your reaction to my comment about the budget for anti-doping measures. I was only speaking of it in reference to the somewhat ironic twist there is in spending such a vast amount of money on the means to try to detect dopers. It wasn't meant in any particular context, it just struck me, in this ongoing discussion about the Landis case and cycling and doping in general, that this sum was alot. I think all of us can lose perspective at times about what we're actually discussing (for example, there is less and less actual discussion about Floyd lately and far, far more about science and legal arguments.) That is fine, that's the beauty of the internet. I don't think that any of us can really say much about comparative economics (i.e., football players make vastly more than cyclists) - what is 'alot of money' to one person would be very different to another. I just about payed my rent last month, so clearly I view things from a different standing than some others would (and I've yet to meet a 'poor' lawyer... are there any? Maybe I'm sterotyping, please let me know if I am...)

But, I have to take on the issue you mentioned about entertainers. I'm not sure where you were going with that, because it seemed as though you were arguing that because art/music/entertainment has been drug-fueled, we should - what? Enforce doping measures on artists, or were you arguing that cyclists and other atheletes should be allowed to dope? I was very confused by the metahpor/comparison, and what the ultimate point was that you were trying to prove.

If you're suggesting that we hold artists to a lower standard than atheletes, and this was harmful to them... well, I'm not sure what to say. I think the public makes up its mind about what it cares to place morality upon. Again, I think this is a moral call, and completely out of the realm of rights or responsibilities. And if you open up the issue of morality, that's anybody's take.

As for the sense of hostility that some are feeling in the discussions lately, I can't really comment much, since I'm more of an observer here who enjoys reading (with the occasional comment - yes, teacher, I AM paying attention!) But there have been a few times when I've spoken in a bit of a diplomatic style. I have to say that I think some have taken the issues very, very seriously - when that happens, ON THE INTERNET (very important context there), it tends to really muddy the waters and get people really defensive, etc. Larry, your writing is fantastic and incredibly even-handed, and M has been a great contributor, especially for me since I am a skeptic on all sides of the issue, and for the longest time, I wondered if TBV was simply a Floyd fan site with alot of scholarship behind it. Let's remember that ultimately this is about discussion, and all contributions are worty (forgetting the odd posts now and again that have nothing to do with anything.)


bostonlondontokyo said...

Wow - what a spelling error - that last sentence should read 'all comments are WORTHY' - perhaps all comments are both worthy AND worty, eh?

Larry said...

m, apology accepted.

m said...


"I know from my experience in California that employers here are generally very careful about firing employees, and that the HR practice here is to assume that the doctrine does not apply in California."

A long time ago I practiced in California also, and for a time advised some large businesses. I, like you, had to worry about whether some employee handbook might be interpreted to create a good cause requirement for firing. Back in those days the California Supreme court was more receptive to public policy exceptions to the at-will doctrine. I suspect they've grown much more conservative in recent years. So yes, as lawyers, we err on the side of caution for our clients. But at the end of the day, I knew on which side the advantage lay, and it wasn't the employees.

DBrower said...

At will is over.

As a first exhibition of the tyrannical power that has been reserved, TBV is declaring this discussion off-topic and closed.

There appears to be no actual relevance to the Landis case, and it has become an annoying distraction.

If someone wants to convince us by mail to reopen this can of worms, we'll reconsider.

Until then, we'll be using the delete comment button.


riderguy said...

This will likely not get posted, but I need to put it out there anyway.
The analysis of income of athletes vs. that of the anti-doping foces is a bit disengenuous on another count.
When it looks at the aggregate income of athletes in a sport as opposed to the aggregate income of UCI et. al. this does not really address psoblems faced by individual athletes.

It would be like saying the gross national product of the US is such that no citizens need to worry about the US Government coming after them. The Fed isn't coming after everyone -- just individuals. If you are the individual you have plenty to worry about.

Similarly with UCI etc. the way the current system is structured (guilty until proven innocent once a + test shows up)the burden of proof (a very EXPENSIVE burden) is on the athlete. If they lose their case, UCI will still get more money next year -- unlike the athlete who is gambling on losing everything.