Thursday, February 8, 2007

"He Name Name...You're On Our List"

Alright, alright...the first of what is sure to be a few too many obscure Seinfeld references. I can't help it.

So...I have gotten some interesting feedback on my last post and wanted to make some things clear that may have been lost in satirical translation. Just trying to keep it light even though this topic is anything but. Check out "The Race" episode if you don't know the "He Name Name" quote from Hop Sing but it is a simple explanation as to why I chose to heckle Cycle Sport and Bradley Wiggins in my last post and continue to take issue with Dick Pound and any number of others like Patrick LeFevre or the ASO. Can you say...Neo-McCarthyism? I knew that you could.

I'm just a lowly bike blogger...I can pretty much say whatever I want with little to no repercussions. But these other guys actually have an audience. They should respect that fact and realize the weight of their accusations on the sport as whole. And we all know that weight and cycling do not mix well. And pseudo "blacklists" really don't help.

To clarify, I don't have a problem with riders taking an openly anti-doping stance and making blanket statements about the sport as a whole. In fact...I think it's great. Dopers Suck. I just don't know how Wiggins and Cycle Sport can call out riders by name without the final legal judgement having been made. I just don't see how the greater good of the sport is served by name calling and personal attacks. Finger pointing and pretending to have all the answers to what is obviously a very complex situation is not exactly laying the foundation for a cooperative and mutually beneficial environment. The system is surely flawed and can be re-worked but using the media to publicly criticize specific riders without final legal judgement only serves to polarize the sport and create more dissent and animosity.

Like I hinted in the sure would be a shame if Wiggins got nabbed by a false positive test for something. Because apparently it is his belief that all riders who ever test positive are guilty. Sorry Bradley, no second chances for you if the lab technician happens to be human and makes a mistake. And what's even better is that you can't deny it or try to explain why it may have happened. Because surely someone who is willing to actually mount a legal defense or determine how the test was carried out is just plain dirty. Okay, BW.

False positives can happen...and an alarming rate, actually. I just read a Harvard med-school study that found a 3.2% chance of false positives for testosterone metabolite testing. How many samples were taken at the Tour? I'm guessing enough to put them at risk of having some innocent rider get "caught."

Look, I don't pretend to know what Floyd or Tyler or Jan or anyone but me does on their own time. And that's precisely why I am not willing to throw every accused rider under the bus when all I have to go on are sloppy media reports and biased personal opinions (which includes the ADA's unfortunately). All I know from personal experience is that Tyler is one of the nicest guys I have ever met and Floyd is one of the hardest working cyclists I have ever seen in person. Does that have any bearing on their guilt or innocence? Of course not. But that is ALL that I can base my judgements off of until someone can adequately explain, refute and correct the many flaws in the current anti-doping system. So far, that hasn't happened.

Therefore, I believe that to take shots at Landis and publicly criticize him before the trial has even been scheduled is unfair. And both Cycle Sport and Wiggins apparently have no I said...playing judge and jury without all of the facts or a professional conclusion. I just don't understand why people can't leave the personal attacks aside and focus on the greater issue of strengthening the legitimacy of the testing and adjudication process, which is really the only way to efficiently combat the doping problem. The fact that Landis' innocence or guilt is even being debated right now is a testament to the flaws in the system. And none of those flaws are addressed or remedied by naming names.

To put this in an even more polarizing context, I will use the Death Penalty as an example. I am a firm believer that if even one innocent person is wrongly executed (which has happened an appalling number of times in this country), the supposed benefit of the practice is completely negated. Similarly, if one innocent athlete is wrongly accused and unfairly removed from the sport...there is no going back. His or her sporting "life" is effectively over...or at the very least severely minimized. Now read Michael Hiltzik's revealing series of articles in the LA Times describing the anti-doping system and subsequent adjudication process and tell me if you think it is okay to publicly claim that an athlete is guilty of a doping offense beyond all doubt. Not so simple, is it?

It worked the same way back in Salem for the witches and in the Senate when McCarthy was accusing any and everyone of being Communists. When there are flaws in the system and an assumption of guilt prior to due process, innocent people will be victims.

To Recap: It's not okay to cheat (duh) and it's not okay to lie about cheating (duh x 2) but at the same time, it is also not okay to contribute to the destruction of someones reputation and/or career before a final legal conclusion has been reached (no duh). It's really that simple.

Don't try to trick Hop Sing. Stop naming names.

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