Saturday, 18 January 2014

Blame the Dummy

Top athletes know full well that they are personally responsible for whatever they put into their bodies these days - there's no point in blaming someone else for your own actions and there's no point in coming up with ridiculous explanations.

Like the Spanish cyclist who was found to have a supply of refrigerated blood while on tour -  saying that he brought this along to make his own supply of Black Pudding, Morcilla as this is known in Spain or Boudin Noir in France.

So, I laughed my head off when I read this report from the BBC which is a classic case of 'blame the dummy' - the coach who may or may not be implicated in the whole affair, but that's a whole different matter and doesn't get the athlete off the hook.  

Asafa Powell: Jamaican sprinter appears before anti-doping panel

Sprinter Asafa Powell has told a Jamaican anti-doping hearing he did not list all his supplements at trials as he could not remember their names.

The former 100m world record holder, 31, tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine at the national championships in June.

He said the naming oversight was caused by his "excitement" about the trials.

Asafa Powell

Age: 31
Nationality: Jamaican
Personal bests: 100m - 9.72 secs, 200m - 19.90 secs (world record, 9.74secs, 2007)
Medals: Olympics: 4x100m relay - gold (2008); World Championships: 100m - bronze (2004,2008), 4x100m relay - gold (2009), silver (2007)

Powell and his attorneys are attempting to explain the result to a three-person Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission panel.

The hearing in Kingston, which began on Tuesday, is expected to last at least two days.

Training partner Sherone Simpson tested positive for the same stimulant but denied being a "cheat" at her hearing.

Powell was one of several witnesses to testify at Simpson's hearing, which was adjourned until 4 February.

The pair are among five Jamaican athletes who failed drugs tests at the national championships. Discus throwers Allison Randall and Traves Smikle and high-jumper Demar Robinson had their disciplinary cases heard last month.

Powell and Simpson, who won silver in the 4x100m relay at the London Olympics, have been provisionally suspended since the positive tests were confirmed and missed the World Championships in Moscow last August.

They both blamed the positive tests on a new brand of nutritional supplements given to them to them by a recently hired physical trainer, Canadian Chris Xuereb.

Bolt vows to restore athletics faith

Powell testified he received nine supplements from Xuereb, including one called "Epiphany D1", which laboratory tests later found to contain oxilofrine.

He further revealed he began taking two capsules of that product from early June, an amount he doubled at Xuereb's suggestion on the morning of the trials.

Powell only told doping control officer Paul Wright about some of the supplements he was taking at that event, listing just three on his declaration form.

Jadco attorney Lackston Robinson accused Powell of being "significantly negligent" after hearing Powell's excuse that the thrill of attending the trials caused him to forget many of the supplements' names.

Xuereb has said he did not give Powell and Simpson any performance-enhancing drugs and only purchased major-brand vitamins, claiming in July that "both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat."

Powell was the last man to hold the individual 100m world record before compatriot Usain Bolt broke it in 2008. He later helped Jamaica win 4x100m relay gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Follow My Leader (21 January 2013)

Heroes are the kind of people who lead from the front - often as not into unchartered waters where others fear to tred.

For many years Lance Armstrong held himself out to be a hero - as a cancer survivor, as an unsurpassed 7 times winner of the Tour de France and founder of his Livestrong Charity. 

But now we know the truth - that Lance Armstrong was just a dope.

A serial cheat who broke every rule in the book and then some through his cynical use of performance enhancing drugs and other means - including blood transfusions - to steal his way to victory. 

Yet the lame excuse Lance has offered for his behaviour is that everyone was at it - that he was just levelling the playing field - according to the 'confession' Lance issued in a carefully stage-managed TV interview with Oprah Winfrey.

So instead of being a modern-day hero - a real leader of men - Lance would have us believe that he was simply following the pack which is, of course, as daft as it sounds.

I read somewhere that another famous cyclist after being caught with blood transfusion bags in his fridge - claimed that he was using these to make black puddings (also known as Boudin Noir in France or Morcilla in Spain).    

Now excuse me for thinking that these people must regard the rest of us as stupid.

Yet in some respects we are - or at least the authorities are - because the cycling cheats have been getting away with it for years.

As Lance Armstrong has now demonstrated - albeit in a friendly TV interview as opposed to the regulatory authorities - who should now demand his complete cooperation to expose the scale of the scandal and the other people involved - before throwing the book at him and banning Lance for life. 

Pundits have now renamed the Livestrong Charity as 'Liestrong' - which seems pretty apt in the circumstances - yet Lance only has himself to blame.