Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Roundup

The Independant (UK) has an excellent, long, story about the Landis case. Some snips:

Seven months ago Landis was hardly best placed to handle one of the sport's highest-profile doping cases. Compare him to Lance Armstrong, seven-times a Tour winner and a sharply spoken urbanite from downtown Dallas, who was subject to numerous accusations during his career. In Landis's place the Texan would have relished the struggle with the media sharks, while Landis had always given the impression of being a slightly goofy, amiable, kid from a rural backwater. And when his world caved in last July, he initially floundered.

Underneath his apparently bumbling exterior, however, lurks another creature altogether: stubborn, deter-mined to get his own way whatever the odds against him [ . . .]

Now Landis is fighting back again - and has achieved something not even Armstrong managed. Somehow, the Pennsylvania country boy has turned what looked like an open-and-shut case into a defence of athletes' rights against the anti-doping establishment. [ . . . ]

Regardless of the opinion of the man on the street, Landis' case highlights the urgent need for a united, coherent approach against drugs in sport. But the devil, for Landis, is in the detail. Or as he puts it: "Fighting doping is one of the most important fights going on in sports right now. Doping is cheating. But it's also too easy to look at the sport from the outside and say that everyone is cheating. That's a cop out. My concern for professional cycling is that the current approach to testing and enforcement isn't fair to athletes and, in their rush to catch accused dopers, the governing bodies and anti-doping organisations don't play by the rules." [. . .]

The cynical will say that half a million dollars, let alone two million, will buy you a very good smokescreen - and this could be all Landis is trying to create. How he can know that documents withheld by the USADA are "crucial" for clearing his name, for example, if his lawyers haven't seen them yet?

But by fighting the anti-doping authorities so hard and spreading the word that he is innocent so enthusiastically, Landis has managed something no other athlete has achieved. He has brought anti-doping procedures under the closest scrutiny to which they have yet been subjected, by the people they affect most closely: the athletes themselves. If he succeeds in clearing his name, that procedure will be in store for a major overhaul. For that reason, Landis deserves a fair hearing. Whether he will get one could be another story.

World Magazine Weekly News and Christian Views (subscription) posts that, while Landis is applying the same determination he exhibited during the Tour de France last summer in his fight for vindication from doping charges, he may still "get off on a technicality."

PezCycling News
"What's Cool in Pro Cycling" mentions that some riders are adopting the "praying mantis" position for their time trialing. A lot of places are calling it the "mantis" now, when last year, they were all calling it the "Praying Landis." Did something happen to make the original name unfashionable?

Rant summarizes the muddled state of the case, and notes whose opinion is going to matter: Arbitrator Patrice Brunet.

CrystalZenMud, briefly an attorney, does a three part review of parts of the WADA code compared to its predecessor from the IOC, and notes some flaws. We agree with many of his complaints, but think others are misguided -- some of the things he wishes were directly in The Code about laboratories are there by reference to the ISL (or SIL if you prefer) and the ISO 17025 accreditation. Don't start us on flaws in the ISL, but they are not flaws in The Code, per se.

Update: TBV has the power -- after bitching about the color scheme and font sizes here, much of it is fixed.

Pommi passes on that Sara Best of DP is doing a profile of Oscar Pereiro and wants to portray him a "Oscar the bike rider" . Included are conciliatory comments from Pereiro about Floyd Landis which are softer than some statements made in the past.

The Daily Rhythm is all "wikied out" but has enough energy left to make a couple of snarky comments about Floyd Landis.

Agent Moody doesn't know if he's guilty, but he is a nice guy.

Steel Kisses
voices support and passes on the letter from Saris' Chris Fortune.

SciFiTwin thinks "irony" is fickle, but it might be more a "coincidence". Tom Fine can probably correct the usage.

At DPF, newcomer Don Sowell conducts a lengthy, if late, dissection of Tygart's DP interview, in which he makes many of the points we discuss in On "A Technicality" today. It must be spring, when a man's thoughts turn to the fairness of legal process. In outline form, with supporting citations omitted here, Sowell argues that Tygart demonstrates:
1) Those opposing the USADA's processes are all cheaters and evil
a. Failure to believe that reasonable people without ulterior motives could disagree with the USADA/WADA processes
b. Belief that litigating cases is an evil act that denies money to clean athletes

2) Disconnects from the realities
a. Disconnect in the search for truth and the winning streak and unjust punishments
b. "Free" process disconnect
c. The formation of the arbitrator pool

3) Absolutism
a. Failure to respect what athletes should fear
b. Zero concern for what a clean athlete would want in the process
c. Belief that the system is 100% right 100% of the time

Thought for the Day

Who knows how far Einstein could have gone if he hadn't been a dropout?


Anonymous said...

Hmm, this technicality thing is really bugging me today. Interesting that in a case where lack of adherence to WADA rules by the ADAs in question is being considered a "technicality" does that mean that, if Floyd loses his battle that we can say that the ADAs won on a technicality then?

If rules for testing and disclosure are mere technicalities, then I'm assuming so are the rules covering the use of PEDs.

I'm guessing rules are only significant when they swing the way you want them to swing.

Anonymous said...

The whole technicality/off the hook issue seems to be hot right now. Wouldn't it be contrary to what Floyd is trying to accomplish, if he was "let off the hook" on what is viewed as a "technicality", or as in the Landaluze case...acquitted out of "respect for the system" (the system that messed up his test in the first place)

If the ADAs can get the public to view Floyd's (if indeed he is exhonerated) exhoneration as a "technicality" then indeed, they will have won....because most people will still see Floyd as guilty (and his name will not have been cleared) nothing is REALLY wrong with the system, just the way the tests are handled...all the techs need is more training (and more respect for the system, obviously), or more controls in place, not a revamp of the entire system.

Maybe I'm off base...but my impression is that the ADAs would love to let him off on a technicality at this save their own skins and leave Floyd smeared in "did he or didn't he" limbo hell.

DBrower said...

Yeah, I think many would be happy to find a technicality to let him off on, while damning him at every opportunity, and denying him the chance to race in France again.

I think there's enough scrutiny that it would be seen for the sham it would be, but it could still happen.

If so, then it's Giro and Vuelta, and the lower income that would come from them, which is still better than some of the alternatives.


Anonymous said...

No need to distract Tom from his scholarly studies. Yes, I used the Alanis Morissette definition of irony, which should be punishable by dispatching hungry weasels.

Thomas A. Fine said...


I just noticed I've been relegated to grammar geek.



DBrower said...

Tom, it was intended to be a homage to your analysis of what is a low probability coincidence vs. what has already happened, however unlikely.

I'd have tagged you a statistics geek, not a grammer geek.

Does that make you feel any better?


Thomas A. Fine said...

Why yes, actually it does :-)

And I would have used the word "fate", which has nothing really to do with grammar or statistics. It just fits better.