Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday Roundup

Some Questions We Haven't Heard Asked

If Boonen's OOC test were being done under UCI and WADA prototols, and the finding is not of a type that can produce any disciplinary action, why have we heard about it at all? Who blew the confidentiality of this non-actionable result, before any B sample test could have been requested or performed?

CyclingNews said, "
The test results, controlled by the Vlaamse Gemeeenschap (Flemish Community), were confirmed and will be sent to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI)"

Under what authority were these results by Vlaamse Gemeeenschap (VG) provided to the paper that broke the story? If there is an ongoing criminal investigation, details are usually closely held by the authorities for risk of compromising the case.

If the test was done on request of the Flemish Cycling Federation (perhaps prodded by the UCI), is the VG the appropriate anti-doping agency to manage results? If it is hte appropriate agency, what are its obligations under its results management regulations? Is it proper to be passing on results that show metabolites, but not an actual controlled subtance, to criminal investigators? Is it proper for these results to show up in the media?

Another car in the train wreck.

VeloNews late in the day says the ASO will not welcome Boonen a welcome at the Tour. Also at CyclingHeroes, this statement of race director Prudhomme:

"This is not a case about perfomance enhancing drugs, but a case from a society adrift, which is going beyond sports. Tom Boonen is a great champion but a great champion also has to act as a role model."

This is a side effect of the UCI losing leverage: there are no rules at all, and race organizers can use any criteria they like for excluding riders. The Tour is now using an undefined "role model" standard.

The CyclingNews confirms that the UCI will NOT sanction Tom Boonen for his positive "out-of-competition" test for cocaine as tthere is no sanction under UCI rules for this particular infraction. BUT, the Tour de Suisse made it clear today that Boonen is not welcome there, will the Tour de France be next:

Following the news of Boonen's test it's understandable that the ASO doesn't want Boonen to defend his green jersey this year. But the ASO hopes the Paris-Roubaix winner will be sidelined by his employer, rather than it being forced to take preventive measures.

The VeloNews carries Tom Boonen's apology for the controversy surrounding his positive out-of-competition test for cocaine. He read a prepared statement today and shared the stage with Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere who maintains no decision has been made on the sprinter's team status as regards the Tour de France. Lefevere was quick to distinguish Boonen's situation from riders who have "real doping problems":
"I spoke by telephone with (Tour de France director) Christian Prudhomme on Monday. I will be in contact with him again shortly. I'm also going to have discussions with other organizers," Lefevere said.

Lefevere made an effort to distinguish his star rider’s behavior from the "real doping problems," which have occurred in the Tour in recent years, noting that Boonen’s difficulties were of a "private" nature.

Let the "spin fest" begin.

Ink and Paper
A emailer notes a section in the Outside Magazine print piece on Slipstream, saying:
In it, Vaughters all but confesses to having doped – he talks about all the doping that was going on when he raced then, when asked directly if he doped, says something like “if you can’t read between those lines…”. Maybe that’s not news anymore.

Rant notes Tom Boonen's affinity for "life in the fast lane", and wonders if Patrick Lefevere is as "queasy" about Boonen's problems as he was when he heard about Floyd Landis' positive test following the 2006 TdF. Rant also has a few words to say about Justin Gatlin's attempt to "use" the American's with Disabilities Act to get into this year's Olympic trials. Comments are generally fair and insightful.

Sports Girl, for some reason, revisits the 2006 Tour de France.

Racejunkie feels that as long as Tom Boonen "ain't snarfing it out of his musette at the feed zone" than what's the big deal with his "poz" for cocaine? Unfortunately at this particular time in cycling's history it can ill afford another drug scandal, even one as seminlgly benign as this one might be.

Sprocket Rocket isn't surprised or too let down by Boonen, as he's already run out of cycling heroes.


woody said...

Boonen should be treated fairly. Unfortunately, The gangsta rap of artists like Eazy-E, NWA and Dr. Dre has twisted our view of how the peleton should deal with dope fiends. According to Time Magazine, last year 82% of crack heads were black, while 72% of powder-cocaine offenders were white or Hispanic. Given the fact that Tom rides a bike and is a rich-ass white guy, he is in an extra special protected class. We all need to work on our attitudes towards crack heads and face the fact than being fair to dope fiends is the right thing to do.

Time Magazine article - Being Fair to Crack Dealers

wschart said...

I don't think issue raised in the Time article cited applies to Europe, but perhaps our Euro friends can enlighten us further.

Or perhaps your trying to be sarcastic?

bk said...

The WADA code and testing should be changed to include cocaine and other recreational drugs. As with steroids and performance enhancing drugs, the burden of proof should be as high as would normally be required in a court room.

Just my 2 cents.

Ali said...

Hey, while we're at it, let's include alcohol and high fat foods. And let's not forget the pleasure inducing endorphins released during activities like ... cycling ?

Or maybe ssomebody would like to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and maybe place their hand firmly on their knee before deciding policy.

I'm afraid IMO, the lunatics have taken over the asylum (yet again). Living isn't a crime, guys. It's something we all have to do and we all have stresses and we all deal with them in different ways. Mr Boonen chooses a white line on the coffee table.

You know, in Belgium, he's effectively a movie star. He's not just an athlete. If you want to judge him, bear in mind that he's had to move country to get some peace and quiet. It's not like in America where TdF champs can saunter around the country like normal people. In Belgium Tom B is treated like your Tom C.

("Eightzero") said...

There is a difference between "non-actionable" and the UCI choosing not to take action. I am not familiar enough with the rUlEz to know if coke is a banned substance, and what the consequences are. Do the rUlEz specify exactly what can be tested for? Could a WADA test be run, at UCI discretion, in connection with, say, with a criminal investigation? Presumably, we know *where* Tom Tornado was tested. Is it a crime at that location to be on coke? Is that "possession" within the applicable statute? If so, TT may have committed a crime, voiding his team contract, violating his ASO "pledge", etc. etc. train wreck, train wreck, train wreck.

It can get far, far worse. These tracks have many, many trains on them every day.

Thomas A. Fine said...

You know it didn't even occur to me that we shouldn't have been informed about the coke.

And that's because I've long come to see cycling's anti-doping efforts for just what they are - a sideshow. A gossip column. The E-channel for cycling. The more attention anti-doping gets, the happier anti-doping is, and cycling be damned.

Ali, first of all, I was at a Yankees game on Monday, and in the middle of the game they announced that Lance was in the house, and showed him and his kid up on the scoreboard. And he had like pressbox seating or something. Not exactly a normal person. Hey Lance, if you're listening, invite me next time, it's not that far from Boston.

And second of all, Tom B. is treated like Tom C? You mean like an off-the-rails nutcase that's more spectacle than star these days?


Larry said...

Regarding the disclosure of Tom Boonen's positive drug test ... as we've discussed, the results of an adverse finding in an athlete's "A" sample are NOT completely confidential. The athlete in question will be notified of the finding, as well as the athlete's national sports federation, WADA and the rider's national anti-doping organization (see WADA code rule 7.2 and 7.4 Comment, UCI Cycling Regulations Part 14 rule 187). It is likely that the UCI will also be informed of the results of the test.

The UCI rules provide that the UCI and the applicable national sports federation are not supposed to disclose an adverse analytical finding until after the B testing procedure is complete. See UCI rule Part 14 Rule 294. However, I'm not aware of any rule barring the athlete or the team from making an earlier disclosure.

As best as I can tell, the disclosure of this test result came about as a result of the press learning that Boonen was questioned by Belgian law enforcement authorities regarding the test results. The Turnhout prosecutor's office then confirmed that they had opened an investigation into Boonen's possible possession of cocaine.

It would appear that the Quick Step team informed Belgian criminal authorities of the positive drug test. I've looked at the google translation of the Belgian paper Het Laatste Nieuws (this appears to be the paper that first reported the story), and while I can't entirely trust google translations, there's a suggestion that the team disclosed the test results to the relevant authorities:

"After his pool tested positive, the team briefed the competent magistrate at the prosecutor-general of Ghent, which is the prescribed procedure."

Ali said...

Tom Fine,

Thanks for correcting me. I don't doubt for a minute that I was wrong. However, those in the know usually don't waste their time on such nugatory actions as pointing out the error of my ways. I rarely engage brain and keyboard simultaneously ... life's too short or I'm too lazy (it's one or the other, or maybe both)


Cheers, Ali