Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tuesday Roundup

The VeloNews reports that the CAS decision against Alessandro Petacchi has been announced, and he's effectively suspended until August 31:

CAS has ruled that Alessandro Petacchi is ineligble to compete for a period of one year, less two months already served," the court noted in its decision. "Therefore, the period of ineligibilty will run from 1 November, 2007, to 31 August, 2008."
All competitive results obtained by Alessandro Petacchi during the 2007 Giro d'Italia shall be disqualified with all of the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes," the court ruled. "Alessandro Petacchi can retain all other competitive results between 23 May 2007 and 31 October 2007, but all competitive results obtained after 31 October 2007, and during the period of ineligibility will be disqualified."

The CyclingNews also cover the Petacchi suspension, plus the positive out of competition doping control for testosterone of Patxi Vila. As CN so eloquently understates:
Testosterone analyses are always problematic, because the parameters for its measurement are difficult to handle, as seen in the cases of Spain's Iban Mayo and USA's Floyd Landis.

The TAS-CAS press release is here, and the full award is here. If you care, save the award -- they vanish off the CAS site after a while.

The Boulder Report discusses Astana's "non-invite" to the Giro. Joe Lindsey also has some questions about Astana's internal anti-doping program.

The Dallas Morning News
writes about younger and younger people seeking hip replacement, some of whom have read about Floyd Landis' successful hip resurfacing surgery and thus have chosen to go that route.

Our old "friend" Strider is back at it again impugning Floyd Landis' character, along with that of anyone else on a bike.

Racejunkie has some succinct advice for the Tour de France as she writes about the Giro "seeing the light". The TdF should just listen already. And she pulls up the Phil Ligget O' the Week:

[W]e love Phil Liggett during Sunday's Tour of Romandie coverage, discussing Oscar Pereiro's performance: "Of course, he's going to have to do a lot better than that, if he hopes to win another Tour de France, if indeed he won one in the first place."

OwnMyTeam ranks Landis #7 of 10 on a list of biggest liars in sports history. He forgets the Black Sox.


PBS's "Secrets of the Dead" recently presented "Doping for Gold" a documentary about the East German women athletes who suffered tragedy after taking part in state sponsored steroid doping. It may be viewed on the PBS web site, or it may be broadcast on some stations this week, check your local listings.

Snark O' the Day
An emailer points to this Youtube video of the Petacchi arbs developing their award.


Eightzero said...

Petachi's not a cheater, but he's suspended anyway? Hmmmm...but Basso intended to cheat, didn't come up positive, and is suspended too.

"...we don't need no education...we don't need no thought control...."

Unknown said...

Hey, racejunkie is distracting Oscar. He's definitely not going to win the Tour now. And not just because, honestly, he can't. But because of racejunkie's and Phil's trash talk.

Unknown said...

Can someone please explain the following to me?? (from Cyclingnews.com)

The CAS found that Petacchi "failed to show that the Salbutamol concentration ... was the consequence of him inhaling Salbutamol in accordance with his ATUE." However, they also found that although the finding was caused by Petacchi taking too much of the medication, it "was not taken with the intention of enhancing his performance.

"Considering that the athlete bears no significant fault or negligence, the CAS panel has fixed the period of his ineligibility to one year." In addition to the suspension, all of his results from the 2007 Giro d'Italia are to be disqualified and he is to return any "medals, points and prizes" he won during the Giro. Petacchi won three stages, including the stage to Pinerolo. He is allowed to "retain all other competitive results between 23 May 2007 and 31 October 2007."

Let's see, Petacchi can't prove he didn't take too much Salbutamol via his prescription, he didn't take the Salbutamol to enhance performance per CAS, the athlete bears no significant fault or negligence, CAS STILL SUSPENDED HIM FOR A YEAR?????? WTF???????

What exactly is CAS's job then? They admit he didn't try to cheat yet still suspend him for a year? These guys have no gonads. The decision as it reads from CyclingNews makes no sense. If he didn't try to cheat, why should he be punished?

Floyd should have saved his millions and waited for his suspension to expire. Heck, he would have been racing in a month or two if it weren't for the damn French trial and USA Cycling allowing his suspension to start six months later than it should have.

Eightzero said...

mwbyrd, it is worse than you think. Look at the Velonews article on Petacchi. The CAS didn't say "he didn't try to cheat" but apparently actually said "...the panel is satisfied that he is not a cheat."

Then they strip him of his results.

Can't wait to read Judge Hue's opinion on the matter.

Doesn't bode well for Floyd. Even when you prove you're not a cheat, they penalize you anyway.

Unknown said...

Eight Zero,

I know. I read the VeloNews article also. I can't believe the people with power act so insignificantly. They have a chance to do what's right, and hide behind some vague rule that allows them to not have a back bone and do what's right.

It's embarassing for the world actually. I mean, no wonder the riders don't talk. They know if they do, they'll be screwed.

Floyd's legacy isn't going to be that he won or lost the Tour on a doping offense, but that he brought a cruel, unjust system to the public.

The scarier part is I have the day off and got sucked into a Robert Redford movie called BruBaker, and it's dealing with the same thing. BruBaker at least has a backbone!

Laura Challoner, DVM said...

This is the WADA Code "strict liability" penalty stuff. Do you guys remember Jellotrip, the parapalegic athlete accused of having cocaine metabolites in his catheter? The substance is found in your system (catheter, here), it did not under the circumstances constitute a performance enhancer and CAS determined that the athlete did not intend to cheat. Nonetheless, under the WADA Code, the athlete is guilty and CAS may adjust the presumed two year ban to something less under such circumstances as they did here, reducing the 2 year ban to 1 year.

Unknown said...

What I don't understand is why CAS doesn't stand up to the WADA code and say/state/demand that it's not fair and that it needs to be rewritten?

Could it be because the CAS panelists are on the payroll too?

DBrower said...


Like the US Courts, they do not make the rules, the CAS enforces the rules that are written. If the rules are stupid, they to not have the authority to change them; they might say so, but they cannot change them.

As Bill Hue notes, having written strict liability into The Code, the only discretion left to the arbiters is the length of sanction to apply -- assuming a doping violation is found to have occurred.


Bill Mc said...

To be clear, WADA's "Strict Liability" in actual practice means that an athlete is not just "Guilty until proven innocent", but rather is "Guilty even if proven innocent"

TiGirl said...

Well, hey...I'll throw my unpopular hat into the three ring circus...what the heck.

Strict liability is a good thing in my mind. Even though Petachi didn't intend to cheat, the fact remains that he was over the limit for his medication. It could have helped him, I don't know. Even though accidental, it still could have "enhanced his performance". I think he should be held accountable. That's fair to the other athletes.

It also acts a deterrent (in a perfect world) to those who would claim "accidental" OD of meds who intend to cheat by using too much of a good thing.

I just think the whole system needs to be overhauled. At this point, one can't trust anything coming out of WADA, USADA or the CAS.

Well, try not to throw too many flaming arrows my way, ok?

Eightzero said...

As calfeegirl notes, strict liability is not always a bad thing. Both Judge Hue and TBV correctly indicate that the CAS merely makes findings IAW the rules as they interpret them. Expecting actual "justice" from a commercial process such as an arbitration panel is unreasonable. The CAS even notes they had to take evidence in a special way (teleconferenced, but with the consent of both side, for sure) to make it possible to hear the case in one day. Isn't that nice - we suspend the need to actually cross-examine witnesses in person because *we're in a hurry*. WADA and Botre must have been thrilled.

In the end, the real problem with this case is a poorly written award. Now that I've perused the link (thanks TBV!) I'm somewhat baffled by the CAS' wording of "the panel is satisfied he is not a cheat." Maybe something was lost in translation. It appears the CAS was addressing Petacchi's intent, and that became synonymous with being a "cheat." All they had to do was phrase it it terms of strict liability, and point out his intent was irrelevant under the code.

While we're on the subject, I've sort of struggled with the whole TUE thing. The panel found Petacchi is an asthmatic, and it is something of an odd twist that he would have missed the Giro because of bronchitis anyway. But he is successful as a cyclist because he overcame his physical limitation of asthma. Isn't this precisely what the fight against doping is about? I could be a lot better cyclist too if I could overcome my lack of cardiac capacity that I was apparently born with by taking a PED. I sort of understand TUEs for short term afflictions, but for a chronic condition?

Call me a pragmatist.

wschart said...

I guess that at least part of the reason for strict liability is so that a rider can't blindly take some mysterious substance from a coach or soigneur etc., and plead "I didn't know it was loaded". But like many well intentioned things, this has been made too strict.

It's like kids at school being expelled, not suspended, but expelled, because Mom packed a butter knife to spread the peanut butter in their lunch, because the school has a "zero tolerance" policy. Or the first grader who gave another student a kiss on the playground and got a sever punishment for sexual harassment.

Much of this sort of thing seems to result because in the past, someone or several someone "got away with it". Athletes are punished for insignificant, technical doping violations because other athletes in the past are known or are suspected of getting away with doping.

Unknown said...

Calfee Girl...just one arrow...

There's a lot of coulda, shoulda, woulda in your example. I don't think it's fair to destroy someone's reputation and career based on 'Maybes'.

Would you want your career based on a Maybe?

this is my biggest gripe with the whole process.

Unknown said...

Sounds like CAS doesn't really serve a purpose then...

Bill Mc said...

Doctrines such as "Strict Liability" and its cousin "Zero Tolerance" are all too often the vehicles used by mindless functionaries to visit unwarranted punishments upon the unwary. As such, they are the antithesis of justice. As concepts, they are often presented very persuasively. That sophistry notwithstanding, as the bible says "by their acts you shall know them", it is in their (mis)application that we see their fatal shortcomings. An athlete should bear a high level of, but not unlimited, responsibility for their adherence to the rules of their sport. There has to be better standard for that than Strict Liability.

TiGirl said...

Mwbyrd: the arrow wasn't so bad, missed the heart, anyway...(smile)

Although Mr. Bill mc might say it hit the brain... tee heee.

You are correct...and that's why my comment at the end, the entire system needs to be revamped to alleviate as much of the "maybe" factor as possible.

But I am not sure there's much "maybe" in Petachi's case...he od'd on the meds, which can give him a distinct advantage (as a fellow asthma sufferer on meds, I can attest to the effects, too). (and yes, I have a TUE on file at WADA, how stupid is that??? me, a MW cat 4 rider doing only local races here in Hawaii, (sometimes I am the only one in my race) having to file with WADA???) Yes, the system needs revamped!!!

wschart: I would agree with your assessment as well, and once again, that's why I stated that I think the entire system needs to be revamped.

Mr. Billmc: Mindless fits me quite nicely, I am blond and not too bright. However, if you would care to elaborate on what you would put in place of Stict Liability, and how you would handle someone who *unintentionally*...truly unintentionally took something that enhanced their performance, resulting in a race win and large prize moneys...would you let them keep the award??? I would do my best to comprehend your point of view....

Having cogitated the circumstantialities of the Petacchi case, my predetermination of Strict Liability is perhaps erroneous. I hearby eschew that prior philosphy and acquiesce to the more erudite on this blog.

The suspension is a bit much, but I do believe that he should not be able to keep his winnings while racing under the influence of too much asthma medications.

Ah, yes....aren't you all glad the world isn't run according to me?? (and isn't the thesaurus fun???)

Keep smilin'

Unknown said...

Question: If there is a rule at work that says you can't visit certain kinds of websites on your computer and you visit a client's website, as your employer knows you do, but you get a pop up from that website that sends you to a forbidden site, would it be fair for you to be suspended for six months?

You knew you weren't supposed to go to that site, even though you did not purposely go there and. Ergo, you should have been more responsible for visiting that website?

Unknown said...

Calfee, interesting comments on being an asthmatic (sp?). There was a piece on E-60 (ESPN) about Dana Torres last night. A lot of people are accusing her of doing drugs to be performing so well at her age - 41.

They did show her using an inhaler. How much of an affect would that have on an elite athlete?

I'm still amazed at the number of elite athletes that are asthmatic...

wschart said...

OK, I'll bite and propose something: how about if an athlete truly unintentionally takes a PED, and competes in an event while under said influence, he is DQ'ed from the event, any awards and prizes s/he would otherwise be entitled to from said event are forfeit, and that's it. And if an athlete inadvertantly takes insignificant amounts of a PED, a la the Brit skier and the inhaler, a warning only. It would be an affirmative defense that the use was unintentional or insginificant, it would be up to the athlete to prove this was the case to the level of proof otherwise demanded in these cases.

If a particular athlete did unintentionally take something, hopefully s/he would learn from the experience and be more careful in the future, hence avoid repeats. If repeats occur, it would be evidence of intent to be dealt with more strictly.

In general, those who decide such matters should have the freedom to dispense discipline appropriate wi

Bill Mc said...


First off, blond though you may be, I do not think that you, or for that matter any of the inhabitants of this blog, are mindless - very much to the contrary. As for what would replace the doctrine of Strict Liability, I am less concerned about its name, which after all is just a sound bite, than I am with its content and application. Whatever the doctrine may be called, it should recognize that the athlete's presumed complicity in a rules violation is rebuttable and that if rebutted, the penalties should be limited to just those events in which the violation(s) occurred.

In practice, that would mean that once a violation has been alleged, based upon some reasonable rules of evidence, the burden would be on the athlete to either rebut the evidence or rebut the presumption of their complicity, again within the context of reasonable rules of evidence. Rebutting the evidence means that he or she denies that a violation occurred, while rebuttinng the presumption of complicity, acknowledges that a violation occurred, but asserts that it was without his or her knowledge and/or participation. As for penalties, if the athlete successfully rebuts the evidence of a violation, then there should be no penalties, either overt or covert (i.e., blacklisting). If the violation is established or acknowledged, but the presumption of complicity is successfully rebutted, then the penalties should be limited. If neither the evidence of a violation, nor the presumption of complicity are successfully rebutted, then full, but hopefully reasonable (i.e., commensurate with the nature of the violation) penalties would be imposed.

Please pardon me if I fail to express this very well, I am sure that Judge Hue could write far more cogently about this than I can. Reading some of the last few posts, it seems the at least several persons here are thinking along the same lines as I am.

wschart said...


You expressed quite well.

TiGirl said...

Whew...a few loose ends to tie up.

Billmc: no offense was taken or even thought of as implied. I try very hard not to take myself or my opinions too seriously...

I think you expressed yourself quite clearly and intelligently, good points you make! i would have to say that I am in agreement with you.

garyo'brien: IMHO, your scenario doesn't match the situation. It's totally different in my mind...sometimes you have no control over popups on your computer (at least computer idiots like me), I've gotten into situations where I had to turn off the system to get out of the website popup. I have no control over that, nor the knowlege of how to control it. However, as an asthma sufferer, I know how much medication I am supposed to take, and I know how to take it, thanks to my MD.

It's one thing to break the rules at work, affecting no one really but yourself..and be disciplined for it. It's another thing entirely to be on something that enhances your performance, win the race and get prize moneys as a result, and resulting in others who didn't have that substance in their body not winning, who perhaps would have (if the finish close,etc)

But these are the hard questions the WADA-ites and USADA-ites are supposed to answer. These are the tough situations that someone has to somehow legislate and call. And just looking at this blog alone, I don't really envy those folks. We just need some folks in power at WADA and USADA who have the moral fiber, and intelligence to design a system that can handle these tough issues.

mwbyrd: I can't answer your question as an expert. I can only attest to the fact that Albuterol has helped me, and has made a difference in the quality of my life for the better.

Have a nice day everyone!

Unknown said...


My next question would be does the Albuterol enhance your riding or allow you to breath the way a person without Asthma does?

Do you feel like you get an advantage using the Albuterol?


DBrower said...

Calfee Kate has power readings, and can probably substantiate the claim that none of her 'on medication' values are notably higher than here 'non-medicated' data for comparable periods. Her problem convincing anyone will be that at her lack of body weight, a single watt or two does affect the w/kg rather more than for most people, and a watt or two is a pretty normal variation.

My understanding of real athsmatics is that that is the case, that medication only allows "normal" performance; also that the high proportion of asthmatics in the peloton isn't really out of line given incidence of exercise-induced asthma.


TiGirl said...

I replied to an email, thinking this had gone to post:

Just one clarification, though. When I say it gives me an advantage, it is an advantage over myself (in a non-medicated state vs using the inhaler), not over other riders. I went undiagnosed for 3 years, and when I started using the Albuterol, it changed my outlook on life, and I could start being competitive again, though I'm still nowhere near as competitive as I was pre-asthma (and, TBV, I DO have the numbers to back that up!). So, yes, I would call that an advantage, but again, not over other riders!


This is strictly anecdotal...just my personal experience..I don't know the scientific evidence, just to be clear.

It does help me breathe the way a person without asthma does. However, I have experimented a bit with it, and while staying within the dosage guidelines...(2 puffs as needed through out the day), I do believe it gives an advantage. But what I can't answer is how much of an advantage. What I have found is that if I take 1 puff before a hard ride or workout, and then take another towards the end of the workout, I am more likely to be able to finish that workout. I wouldn't actually have an attack, but used it as a preventative. (per MDs instructions, btw) I normally only take half the dosage (1 puff), and only when I really feel that my lungs are not processing oxygen the way they should be.

It makes me very nervous, shakey and excitable if I take it outside of the sports venue. For instance, I can not use it before a rehearsal or concert where my fine motorskills and concentration need to be ultra focused and precise. Too much nervous energy, I guess.

Another interesting aside, when triathlon was in it's infancy, before 1999,, triathletes flocked in large numbers to their MDs for inhaler prescriptions. Interesting how many MDs prescribed them...wonder how many athletes really needed it?