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).

Rivoluzionaria Idea per il Ciclismo Professionista

Tutti questi corridori che nonostante tutto si fanno ancora “beccare” mi ricordano quella vecchia barzelletta del ciclista, intervistato dopo una vittoria, che dice “Sono contento di essere arrivato Uno”.

Ormai ci sono tre sole soluzioni: o il Ciclismo professionista chiude tutto, o diventa il Tour dei Penitenziari, oppure vengono buttate al macero le ipocrisie e si liberalizza l’uso degli stimolanti, a patto che vengano dichiarati pubblicamente.

Tibet e Olimpiadi: Non Dimentichiamo Jin Jing

L’autore di EastWestSouthNorth si chiede (e non e’ il solo): chi ha perso la faccia in quest’epoca di proteste che coinvolgono la torcia olimpica?

Una risposta e’ facile: certo non il Governo Cinese, la cui autostima cresce di giorno in giorno e che puo’ sfruttate anche la luce riflessa dalla gloria di Jin Jing, la sorridente atlente Paralimpica costretta su una sedia a rotelle dopo un tumore e che ha difeso la torcia olimpica con tutta se stessa contro non uno, ma ben due assalitori a Parigi.

Qualunque siano i meriti della “causa” tibetana, mi ha intristito fin dall’inizio vedere la staffetta Olimpica diventare occasione per confronti violenti, anche se solo nella forma di “pacifici” attraversamenti di fronte al tedoforo. Queste foto mi hanno convinto ancora di piu’:

Le proteste continueranno: ma dopo quanto accaduto a Jin Jing, saranno peggio che inutili. Come lo si volti o lo si giri, ogni tentativo futuro di collegare le Olimpiadi di Pechino alla situazione in Tibet sara’ quasi sicuramente una manna per quel nazionalismo Cinese che vuole andare contro tutto e tutti, Tibetani inclusi.

NOTA BENE: C’e’ chi dice di avere le prove che sia stata tutta una montatura. Ma in realta’, non e’ che importi piu’ di tanto. Le immagini sono state viste da decine di miloni di persone. Ci sono stati due assalti a Jin Jing da parte di manifestanti. L’espressione facciale dell’atleta e’ quella di una persona scossa e spaventata, o di un’attrive insuperabile, fino ad’oggi sconosciuta.

E quindi che senso ha mettersi a disquisire sui dettagli delle fotografie? Sarebbe un po’ come difendersi dallo tsunami con un cucchiaino.

Capello’s First Point of Order

Fabio Capello (pr. Kah-Per-Lo), the new England football manager, may or may not have serious intentions in getting the team with a trophy or another.

But if he does, there is one clear thing he needs to impose to change the squad’s attitude: a complete alcohol ban for any player willing to represent England.

Otherwise, Capello’s tenure will end up like Eriksson’s and any other manager’s this side of 1966.

England’s football system is large enough to guarantee that a team of 11 average alcohol-free players can be put together, and they will have an enormously higher chance to win than highly-paid drunks.

If Italy made it in 2006…

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I am not just saying players should stop drinking before matches, or during major competitions. Of course they should, and to do otherwise is a clear sign of foolishness.

But if I were Capello, I would ask for players to not drink any alcohol at all in any moment of their day. Ever.

A player’s career in the national team is usually short anyway, seldom lasting more than 4 or 6 years. If anybody cannot resist that short a time as an absolute teetotaller, in exchange for the possibility of winning the Cup in South Africa 2010, that person must have a serious alcoholism problem. And he should be sent for some basic detox, not to play for his Country.

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Of course there’s always another solution: change nothing, pretend it’s all about football schemes, play on, and just wait for next abysmal failure…

…while going from one rape allegation to another, of course!

ps Is it important for Capello to learn how to speakka goode Englisch? Maybe not. He’d better spend some money to buy a large amount of wild dogs, to unleash against any player showing signs of drunkeness (or just slacking).

Drivers Not Important In Slightly Fishy F1 Championship

After the Monza GP there is finally a bit of clarity in Formula One: drivers are not that important, in 2007.

In fact, a look at the standings reveals a remarkable pattern, with McLaren’s pilots in positions #1 and #2, then Ferrari’s in #3 and #4, then BMW Sauber’s in #5 and #6 and so on with Renault, Williams, Red Bull and Toyota.

The first 14 places are occupied by successive pairings of team-mates.  

Ergo the car is more important than the actual driver.

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Now can we say there is anything fishy, after months of allegations?

Well, there is just a hint that something may not be as usual, in the fact that Ferrari and McLaren are so much better than anybody else.

In a year where drivers are not important, in fact, what are the chances that two completely independent cars can compete so close to each other?

Wouldn’t it be much more probable for one team to be in front of the pack, having cracked the right configuration and materials for the current set of rules?

Or otherwise, if such mix can be found by more than one team, shouldn’t there be three or four competing at the top?

If I were the judge in the McLaren-Ferrary spy case, I would get both cars compared to the last detail, and with a couple of other cars too…

Apriamo al Doping

Quanto tempo dovra’ passare ancora prima che ci decidiamo a gettare la spugna nella commedia chiamata “antidoping”?

Specialmente da quando e’ arrivato il professionismo, solo dei mostri potrebbero rimanere in cima al mondo senza fare uso di “rinforzanti”. E quindi questi verranno usati nel futuro, cosi’ come sono stati usati nei decenni passati.

E perche’ no? Il pubblico assiste per vedere qualche risultato straordinario. Ma ormai ogni limite per il corpo solo leggermente allenato, e’ stato raggiunto e superato da anni, per cui da dove mai arriverebbero tutti quei record? Forse Londra 1948 e’ stata l’ultima Olimpiade dove uno spettatore qualunque avrebbe potuto gareggiare con qualche possibilita’ seppure remota di fare bella figura.

E dunque l’antidoping e’ solo una grande e ipocrita perdita di tempo, degna figlia della caccia alle streghe degli anni ’50 e ’60 contro tutti coloro che non erano “dilettanti”.

Perche’ non facciamo venire fuori tutto rendendolo legale? Dopotutto i controlli sono molto piu’ facili, alla luce del sole. Chi c’era invece quando tutti quei ciclisti morirono d’infarto a vent’anni?

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?