Lance Armstrong To Be Reinstated As Tour de France Winner (in 2082)

Everybody knows that, whatever the USADA will try to say, Lance Armstrong will remain the winner of seven Tours de France. Only thing, he might have to wait a long while before the hypocrisy surrounding doping will finally disappear.

From Jim Thorpe’s Wikipedia entry:

In 1912, strict rules regarding amateurism were in effect for athletes participating in the Olympics. Athletes who received money prizes for competitions, were sports teachers or had competed previously against professionals, were not considered amateurs and were barred from competition.

In late January 1913, the Worcester Telegram published a story announcing that Thorpe had played professional baseball, and other U.S. newspapers followed up the story. Thorpe had indeed played professional baseball in the Eastern Carolina League for Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1909 and 1910, receiving meager pay; reportedly as little as US $2 ($50 today) per game and as much as $35 ($873 today) per week. College players, in fact, regularly spent summers playing professionally but most used aliases, unlike Thorpe.

Although the public didn’t seem to care much about Thorpe’s past, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), and especially its secretary James Edward Sullivan, took the case very seriously. Thorpe wrote a letter to Sullivan, in which he admitted playing professional baseball:

…”I hope I will be partly excused by the fact that I was simply an Indian schoolboy and did not know all about such things. In fact, I did not know that I was doing wrong, because I was doing what I knew several other college men had done, except that they did not use their own names….”

His letter didn’t help. The AAU decided to withdraw Thorpe’s amateur status retroactively and asked the International Olympic Commission (IOC) to do the same. Later that year, the IOC unanimously decided to strip Thorpe of his Olympic titles, medals and awards and declare him a professional.

Although Thorpe had played for money, the AAU and IOC did not follow the rules for disqualification. The rulebook for the 1912 Olympics stated that protests had to be made “within” 30 days from the closing ceremonies of the games. The first newspaper reports did not appear until January 1913, about six months after the Stockholm Games had concluded. There is also some evidence that Thorpe’s amateur status had been questioned long before the Olympics, but the AAU had ignored the issue until being confronted with it in 1913.

And what happened then seventy years later (and 30 years after Thorpe’s death in 1953)?

Over the years, supporters of Thorpe attempted to have his Olympic titles reinstated. US Olympic officials, including former teammate and later president of the IOC Avery Brundage, rebuffed several attempts, with Brundage once saying, “Ignorance is no excuse.” Most persistent were the author Robert Wheeler and his wife, Florence Ridlon. They succeeded in having the AAU and United States Olympic Committee overturn its decision and restore Thorpe’s amateur status prior to 1913.

In 1982, Wheeler and Ridlon established the Jim Thorpe Foundation and gained support from the U.S. Congress. Armed with this support and evidence from 1912 proving that Thorpe’s disqualification had occurred after the 30-day time period allowed by Olympics rules, they succeeded in making the case to the IOC. In October 1982, the IOC Executive Committee approved Thorpe’s reinstatement. In an unusual ruling, they declared that Thorpe was co-champion with Bie and Wieslander, although both of these athletes had always said they considered Thorpe to be the only champion. In a ceremony on January 18, 1983, the IOC presented two of Thorpe’s children, Gale and Bill, with commemorative medals. Thorpe’s original medals had been held in museums, but they had been stolen and have never been recovered.

As reported by the New York Times in 1975, the passing of Brundage in the same year didn’t hurt Thorpe’s case. Likewise, on Oct 22, 1974 the word “AMATEUR” in the meanwhile had finally been “scrubbed from the Olympic lexicon as the 75th session of the International Olympic Committee opens [...] with the avowed intention of eradicating hypocrisy(my emphasis).

Corrupt Police in Heilongjiang Province, China

For evidence of corruption in Heilongjiang Province, China, look no further than the story of Gao Chuancai.

Obviously there is something at work at present in China that prevents the oppressive regime from imploding upon itself in an outburst of paranoia and red tape. I just wonder what that is.. 

Heilongjiang

Heilongjiang Province

An Olympic Doping Disaster In The Making?

There is something very fishy about doping at the Beijing Olympics this year.

As of now, 4 athletes have tested positives for banned substances. This may look like a positive result, a decisively downward trend after more than a dozen people tested positives at Athens 2004. But in reality, it’s the other way around.

No less than International Olympics chief Jacques Rogge had declared, at the end of July, that the massive anti-doping effort of 2008  was expected to net as much as 40 cheating athletes.

At the current rate, it will be an achievement if 10 doping cases were to be found by the end of the Olympics.

The alternative views, that the worldwide sports movement has finally decided to stop using banning substances, or that cheats are getting caught before going to the Olympics, are in practice beyond ridicule…also because already one of the 4 “Beijing positives” is a Vietnamese girl that everybody believes has taken a banned prescription drug by mistake.

Is nobody else making any mistake in Beijing? Nobody at all?

There are other well-known indicator of “doping fishiness”. Antidoping expert Dick Pound said before the start of the Olympics: “If a bunch of athletes no one has ever heard of show up at the Olympics and win gold medals, that’s going to be the worst thing for China’s reputation“.

And here there is one.

Look also at French swimmer Alain Bernard’s giant upper-body muscles, compared to his competitors. One can even see an oversize vein, like in the bodybuilding competitions of old.

Some experts are starting speaking out, worried that overall, Beijing 2008 will be a setback in the war against doping. But how likely is it that almost everybody has figured out how to avoid detection, and/or almost every testing lab has decided to opt for extreme caution before declaring any sample as “positive”?

——

So what’s possibly going on? Everybody knows that doping brings with it embarrassment, especially to the host Country, especially if the athletes getting caught come from the host Country.

On the other hand these are the Olympics where a 14-year-old Chinese girl’s age is “slightly nudged” to become 16 on her passport in order to compete. There would be little to be surprised of if, behind the scenes, “little” positive cases of doping were purposedly “slightly nudged” towards negativeness, especially when the blood samples came from Chinese athletes.

in order to preserve harmony, then, everybody’s “little” positive cases would be treated the same way, with a bunch of unlucky people singled out just to keep up appearances. The result? Widespread dishonesty and hypocrisy in a disaster of Olympic proportions indeed, with doping the one thing everybody knows about and nobody dares to talk of.

For the sake of honesty and fair competing, it certainly does look like the right time to accept clean, transparent, safe doping in sports: just as a few years ago, professionalism was finally allowed to surface, after its own long, suffered history of Olympic dishonesty and hypocrisy.

Pistorius: Everything’s Good

I will try to explain in detail why I do not agree with those who reacted negatively to the news that Pistorius will be given the opportunity to attempt qualifying for the Olympics.

And no, I will not use emotional arguments.

There are several objections I have heard, and none of them stands up to scrutiny. Some say that the artificial legs give Pistorius an unfair advantage: well, then it’s not a matter of preventing him to compete, rather to help hilm design legs without unfair advantages.

Others declare their opposition to the use of any “non-natural equipment” at the Olympics: shall we then also prohibit hi-tech swimming gear, and super-special running shoes? Or at least make sure everybody uses the same gear, and the same shoes.

In truth, there already is a “mechanical device” that allows people with disabilities to compete with all others: that is, glasses. I am extremely short-sighted myself: I would be almost blind, if I had not the good fortune of being born in an age where the right type of correcting lenses are available.

Unfortunately many others, for example those forced to move on wheelchairs, have no such luck (yet).

Now, is there anybody willing to say that short-sighted people ought not to compete for example in archery, as glasses could provide unfair advantages compared to “normal people”? After all, the ability to focus at large distances is very important in some sports and it can happen (as it happened to me) that glasses or contact lenses correct vision to 11/10.

Years ago, by the way, a female archers has been allowed to compete from a wheelchair…

What’s’ so different, in the Pistorius case? The fact that glasses are known and accepted by all, even in everyday life, while artificial legs are good at the moment only for running, look “alien” to most and therefore raise a certain fear of the “new and different”.

But in that case the problem is not with Pistorius, rather with those who are still not accepting the possibility that even if “running” means “on two legs”, still doesn’t necessarily mean “the same legs you were born with”.

Others still worry that the Pistorius will set a precedent, and the IOC has opened a dangerous door unto the unknown. Such “precautionary principle” is very dangerous in general (none should use bathrooms at home, for example, since that’s where most of the accidents happen), and in this particular case, too simplistic.

What will happen, in fact, after the decision favourable to Pistorius? Other amputees will try to follow, and the IOC and the International Athletics Federation will finally define the standards necessary for the approval of an artificial leg.

Therefore, scientific and technological research will focus on creating artificial legs more and more similar to natural ones, which in all likelihood will translate into better models intended for use also in everyday life.

And so even putting aside the emotional considerations around the Pistorius case, it is time to loudly cheer for Pistorius: just as years ago for Bosman, who courageously and tenaciously demolished an entire slave system, I mean the European market for football players.

Pistorius! Pistorius!

The arbitrate tribunal TAS in Switzerland has finally started to redress the scandal of the IAAF’s stupid hypocrisy in keeping Oscar Pistorius out of the Olympics as a matter of principle disguised as a technical discussion on the alleged “unfair advantage”. those running “springs” are said to convey.

This is a great day indeed and all the more so as the CIO has accepted the TAS’s verdict.

And to those wondering about “unfairness”: would you prevent short-sighted competitors to attend an archery event, claiming the glasses may enahnce their ability to look in the distance?

Even if the Chinese Government is paranoid…

…it doesn’t mean nobody is “out to get them”…

Serge Schmemann’s otherwise insightful comments on the parallels between Moscow 1980 and Beijing 2008 (“Olympic flames, then and now“, IHT, Apr 28) lacks balance about the inspiration of so many anti-China protests around the world.

This being the Age of the NGOs, there definitely is no shortage of people determined to use a major media event like the Olympics to support this or that issue. Furthermore, there are many that see economic powerhouse China as the enemy, a threat to their jobs and livelihoods.

And so even if the Chinese leadership is clearly showing signs of obtuse paranoia about the Dalai Lama, Hu Jia and pretty much everything else, they may very well still be right in denouncing the protests as maneuvered by a coalition of “anti-China forces behind the curtain”, hitting the right buttons in order to “stir up genuine anger” in “people in free societies”.

Schnemann casts also doubts on the effectiveness of “quiet diplomacy”. Perhaps he is right. One thing is certain, though: you don’t deal with a paranoid…by going out to get him.

Tibet and the Olympics: Remember Jin Jing

The author of EastWestSouthNorth asks: whose PR have been a disaster in these times of Olympic torch protests?

Well, the answer is easy: not the Chinese Government’s, steadily growing in self-confidence and basking in the reflected glory of Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound smiling Chinese Paralympic girl athlete and cancer survivor, holding on to the torch “for dear life” against not just one, but two physical assaults in Paris.

Whatever the “cause” behind, I have felt uneasy from the beginning, seeing the Olympic torch relays become occasions for violent confrontations, even if in the form of “peacefully” crossing the path of the bearers. These pictures have convinced me further:

Protests may and will continue: but after the Jin Jing’s incident, they have become worse than pointless. For all intents and purposes, all future linkage of the Tibet problem with the Beijing Olympics will more likely than not simply further the cause of Chinese nationalism against the rest of the world, Tibetans included.

NOTE: There are people out there claiming to possess evidence demonstrating that the incidents have been staged. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter any longer. The pictures are out there. There are two assaults, not just one. Ms. Jin’s facial expression is that of a person in distress, or an unexpectedly great actress.

So obscure photographic analysis and talks about the behaviour of foreigners marching towards a demo in Paris, won’t do the trick. Anybody not believing in Ms. Jin’s ordeal, may as well try to stop a tsunami with a teaspoon.

Pistorius Ban Reveals IAAF’s Stupid Hypocrisy

The IAAF has banned blade-running Oscar Pistorius from the Bejing Olympic Games, because according to a study, his prosthetics offer “unfair advantage”.

It is a very sad, and very wrong decision. Sad, because it could have been an emotionally-charged August afternoon in Beijing, seeing Pistorius compete with people whose legs have not been amputated at 11 months of age. A truly epoch-defining, world-uniting happening.

It is wrong, because Pistorius’ would have been the only publicly-declared “unfair advantage”, whilst performance-enhancing drug use is still so widespread. The underlying premises for the decision sound quite peculiar too: will the IAAF disqualify tall athletes from high or long jump, as they have an “unfair advantage” over people of short stature? Are we going to see a manual of “standard athlete measurements” with people too far off one of the scales banned from competition?

The funniest part is that Pistorius is unlikely to qualify for the Olympics finals anyway. So this shot-in-the-foot by the IAAF is worse than useless, and doubly stupid.

The Truth Behind the London Olympics Fire

London, 15 Nov (MNN) – The truth behind the mysterious, spectacular Nov 12 fire in Waterden Road, London may have been revealed today.

Unreliable sources report a huge party thrown at the headquarters of the London 2012 Committee, for “the biggest Olympic Flame in the world“.

 

Those Chinese, we’ve beaten them by almost a year“, a reveler commented, before adding “their tiny flame in the Beijing stadium on 8/8/8 will look puny in comparison, a hundred times smaller to say the least“.

Now let’s make our own Stadium a hundred times bigger than Beijing’s“, he added, “or that much as expensive, to say the least!

The reveler would not confirm if an even bigger fire is planned a couple of months before the Opening Ceremony on 27/7/2012. “Well, it could be a good idea”, he commented, ”if only to remind Londoners where the Games will take place, and how much of their money would have been burned by then“.

In unrelated news: according to badly informed sources, Police is investigating a group of elderly Tories seen celebrating the resurrection of the glorious party logo in the London sky.

 

A grassroot Lib-dem committee has immediately formed to counter with a propaganda coup of their own: change the old party birdie image into something nearer their aspirations…

…from to

The silliness of boycotting the Beijing Olympics

A serious effort to use the Olympics to promote freedoms in China would have started in 2001, as soon as Beijing had been selected, and would have continued relentless since.

Seven years of campaigning would have surely achieved something.

A boycott at this late stage would instead be mainly a marketing gimmick: a bit like with those NGOs that target Nike for harsh labour conditions, but only Nike, because their target is getting their names in the news rather than actually improving anybody’s life.

There is already an example showing the way. If Jesse Owens had boycotted the Nazi Olympics of 1936, who would have embarassed Hitler? And so people wanting to make a statement about China better have the courage to do it in Beijing itself.

Open to Doping

How many years will pass before the towels will finally be thrown in in the boring comedy aganst doping in sports?

Especially with the advent of sport professionals, only freaks can be on top of the world without using any doping. And so people have been “enhancing” themselves for decades and they will continue do so regardless.

And why not? The public watches in expectation of some extraordinary feat. Well, any limit for the lightly-trained body has likely been reached and surpassed by now, so where would records come from? London 1948 may have been the last time anybody in the crowd could have reasonably competed on the field.

Antidoping efforts are therefore only a giant, hypocritical waste a time, the children of the shameful witch-hunts of the 1950′s and 1960′s against anybody not doing sports as an “amateur”.

Why can’t we get things declared out in the open? At least, control is so much easier under sunlight. Who was there instead to protect those young cyclists, all killed by heart attacks in their 20s?