Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday Roundup

News
Reuters reports Patrick Sinkewitz has decided not to appeal his 1 year ban (reduced for cooperation) for his testosterone positive last year. He'll be eligible to race again on July 17th, if he can find an employer and any races that will allow his entry. In the meantime, he may also testify in the Landis appeal, though we can't imagine why.

CyclingNews breaks word that CAS has heard the call, and will rule on the IPCT complaint about Paris-Nice and sanctions by the UCI by Friday night.

AS general secretary Matthieu Reeb told Reuters on Thursday, "The international professional cycling teams have asked us to rule before the start of the race so we will make a decision by tomorrow evening at the latest."

CN also says the riders and teams are "standing up" to the UCI by begging for a mediation to resolve some of the issues. It sounds like tumbleweed asking for the wind to stop, not standing up to us.

Earlier, the CyclingNews posted a call for arbitration in the UCI/ASO dispute from IPCT (the International Professional Cycling Teams):
"In this affair, the teams and their riders are caught between a rock and a hard place," read IPCT's statement which added that the organization "did not want to take part in this conflict, but must protect the interests of members." The IPCT is asking CAS to decide if the teams and their riders have a right to take part in Paris-Nice without being exposed to a risk of sanctions from the UCI.


This edition of CN also reiterates the outrage of the French cycling federation to threats voiced by Pat McQuaid yesterday, as well as Christian Prudhomme's latest comments on the elimination of doping from cycling.

The CyclingNews reader mail column publishes notes on lots of topics, but the majority of the letters posted express opinion on the ASO's exclusion of Astana from its events this year.

The Southwest Daily News community calendar notes an appearance by Floyd Landis in conjunction with a seminar on hip pain and hip resurfacing surgery. The event will take place on Saturday March 15th, and if you live in this part of Louisiana and are interested you can find more information here.

The BBC shows Mr. Pound polishing his image by appearing to take an athlete's position against a federation. In this case, he's saying the British Olympic Committee's rule to prohibit one-time offenders from ever representing the UK in Olympic competition is likely to be successfully challenged. He says that as a signatory to the WADA code, it is obliged to accept the end of a ban as the end of a ban, and not impose additional punishment. We wonder how he feels about cycling promoters dis-inviting riders with a past. If one feels an event organizer can have rules of their own choosing because they are not signatories, then why can't something like, say, the Beijing Organizing Committee decide to refuse entry from athletes who ever had a doping violation? Or a government refusing VISA/entry to anyone with a doping case in the past?

Motor Sport
In marginally relevant news from the world of powered wheels, we see how NASCAR deals with a perceived infraction: Carl Edwards has his win at Las Vegas marked "tainted", had season points taken away, and his crew chief has been suspended for a post-race inspection violation. They claim it was a broken part, but haven't decided if they will appeal:
“We are not yet sure if we will be participating in a 16th-century exercise in the judicial system,” Smith said. “It’s a tough business for any race team to have to pledge $100,000, 100 points and a six-race crew chief suspension as an indemnity payment to NASCAR against a promise forced from us by NASCAR that no bolt will ever fail its purpose under race conditions.”

At the same time, an appeal can work, as Robby Gordon was pleased to have happen.
Robby Gordon received a season-saving reprieve from a NASCAR appeals committee Wednesday when the three-member panel restored the 100 points he had been docked for an infraction at Daytona.

The National Stock Car Racing Commission also lifted crew chief Frank Kerr’s six-week suspension, but raised his monetary fine from $100,000 to $150,000. The fine is the largest in NASCAR history, topping the $100,000 set by Michael Waltrip last season and matched several times.


And to show what a small world it is, Gordon's team was under a lot of time and financial pressure:

Gordon was caught with an unapproved front bumper on his Dodge during the first inspection for the season-opening Daytona 500. He defected from Ford to Dodge just a week before, and his team scrambled to build cars with parts provided by the manufacturer.

Dodge inadvertently sent Gordon a prototype bumper it is hoping to get approved for competition.

...

The victory eases a burden on Gordon that began in January when terrorist threats forced the cancellation of the Dakar Rally. Gordon, a perennial competitor in the 16-day, 5,760-mile trek Europe to Senegal in West Africa, was already in Portugal with two $1 million cars when the event was canceled.

He estimated it cost RGM almost $4.5 million in losses, and wasn’t sure his small race team could survive.


The promoter of the canceled Dakar Rally? Our friends, the ASO, though it is hard to blame them for the violence and political instability of the race route that forced the cancellation.


Blogs
Rant invokes Edwin Starr and asks what good is the UCI/ASO war for? Absolutely nothin', ask the riders who, along with cycling fans, will suffer the most, again.

RaceJunkie is impressed the IPCT grew a spine and asked for CAS to intervene.

Velo Vortmax
thinks both sides of the UCI/ASO battle should just "drop dead". Barring that, VV feels the riders should stand up for themselves by striking, and he agrees with Rock Racing's Michael Ball that they should form a union with some bite this time.

WADA Watch tries to find things on the WADA website, and runs into a bunch of dead links and empty pages. Conclusions are drawn about transparency and accessibility of information.

3 comments:

beeble said...

Countdown to zero...

The CAS is supposed to rule by Friday evening on the ASO-UCI dispute so everyone hold on the edge of your seats and make ready the valium.

Strbuk will have to stay up a bit later with some Peets for that!

jrdbutcher said...

Nascar has never claimed to be anything other than a dictatorship.

Regardless, several items are to their credit.

The old “cup car” was ripe for rules bending or gray area tuning. Nascar drew a line in the sand with the new cup car. They also gave teams ample notice that uapproved modifications would be dealt with harshly. Nascar kept their word.

The picture of Edwards back flipping and the violation pictured was distributed by rival teams because it was such an obvious breach and advantage to Edwards. The yahoo article describes why.

Nascar doesn’t void a victory earned on the track, except, possibly, as a last resort. Points are deducted, fines are levied, and suspensions are enforced. Suspensions seldom involve the drivers. They usually involve crew chiefs or pit crew members. The fans know who won the race. They can argue later whether it was a legit win, or not. That’s great for Nascar. It keeps people talking about the product.

Contrast that to what happened in the 2006 TdF.

The analogy only holds up, to a point.

Drivers = Riders
Crew Chief = Team Director
Sponsor = Sponsor
Race series = ?
Championship points = ?
Owner points = ?

In Nascar, the race series, championship points, and owner points are all vitally important. No so in professional road bike racing. It doesn’t even compare.

Whatever you want to think about Nascar, they don’t claim they will be fair or predictable in rules penalty application. FWIW, they seem more fair and predictable than the UCI/WADA/ASO debacle we’ve recently witnessed.

WRT drug use in Nascar, some drivers have served short suspensions with rehab/counseling being required to drive again. Repeat offenders have been suspended indefinitely. You’ll seldom hear details from either side. They deal with it, but Nascar doesn’t air that kind of dirty laundry. I see it as a sort of sign of respect for the addict or casual drug user and the better PR move for Nascar. Bike racing might learn from them?

Michael said...

Hmm...court of public opinion...

From Cyclingnews.com regarding Amber Neben and a couple other athletes suing Hammer Nutrition:

Hammer Nutrition declined to specifically comment to Cyclingnews regarding the case, saying that its web site had a reaction to the case and the press release sent by Jacobs. "It is unfortunate that the plaintiffs have decided to take their case to the court of public opinion," the statement said. "We trust that the media and the public will allow due process and the courts to deal with this matter before rushing to judgment. While we empathize with the challenges that these three athletes face by virtue of their positive drug tests, they are directing the blame for their situation in the wrong direction. We are certain that when all of the facts are presented in a court of law, Hammer Nutrition LTD. will be vindicated of any wrong doing."

Neben in the USA team kit
Photo ©: Team Flexpoint

However, company owner Brian Frank did reveal his feelings on the matter to Triathlete Magazine saying, "We have hundreds, if not thousands of athletes that take our products. The fact that three used them and got caught up in false positives for nornadrostendione is a stretch. The suit has been filed in Orange County, and we'll be defending it under product liability defense. It's odd their lawyer is sending out releases, trying us in the court of public opinion. We've been making products for 21 years, with athletes like Scott Tinley and Scott Molina using them without fail. It's unfortunate. We've seen Tyler (Hamilton), all these athletes that will do or say anything to clear their name. With this there's no basis whatsoever."

Specific to Neben, Frank told Triathlete Magazine: "She also claims contamination, but they had 14 products tested, and all of them tested negative. That was one of the most tested teams in the U.S. We were supplying them through Mike [Engleman's] (U.S. Women's Cycling Development Program director and founder) women's development team, which was also the T-Mobile team, so not T-Mobile per se. But the funny thing is she tested positive at a race in Quebec. All her team-mates were tested and using the same product out of the same containers, and none of them tested positive."

In response to these and other comments made by Frank, Jacobs told Cyclingnews: "I must say that Brian Frank has gone a little further regarding his comments against the athletes, which I think he might regret." Jacobs also said that this is not new territory for him. "Every company that I've sued has had a similar reaction and then have settled, after the outrage by the company." Jacobs also said that in a similar case of his that did go to trial, involving Olympic swimmer Kicker Vencil, the jury awarded him $600,000.

Kind of interesting to hear the manufacturers opinion. Sound kind of familiar???