All Clear on the Doping Front! So Far . . .

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Alright!! The French newspaper Humanité (the official organ of the French Communist Party, if you’re interested) has good news to report today from Beijing: The IOC Has Carried Out 650 Anti-Doping Controls, None Positive.

Those 650 tests have been carried out since 27 July, when the Olympic Village in Beijing officially opened – but they have been done not only in the Chinese capital, but also at training camps even outside the country: in Singapore, in Hong Kong, even in the US – “everywhere.” The speaker here is IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch, who made the announcement.

IOC President Jacques Rogge also had a piece to say. He announced that those first 650 were part of the 4,500 tests that Olympic authorities ultimately plan to carry out. Of course, he expects that there will be positive results at some point: specifically, and extrapolating from the 26 cases that were uncovered from the 3,500 test done in Athens four years ago, he expects there to be around 30 to 40 positives by the time testing ceases on 24 August. Of course, if there turn out to be less he would be mightily pleased, he added (if not in those words).

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

IOC-for-Hire

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Back now to the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games. I mentioned before their rampant commercialism. That is certainly not a recent phenomenon by any means, but nonetheless an ever-growing annoyance, clearly at variance with the original “Olympic spirit” and quite possibly a major reason behind the awarding of the Games to Beijing in the first place (that huge Chinese market!), despite the country’s deficiencies in the area of human rights and free information that we have already seen, as well as Beijing’s own deficiencies in sheer clean air which we may be about to witness.

The guardian of the Games and their “Olympic spirit” is supposed to be the 110 members of the International Olympic Committee, lead by its president, the Belgian Jacques Rogge. For anyone who might have any confidence in that body as a defender of the Olympics against the seductions of money, the recent article by Evi Simeoni in the leading German daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (or FAZ) should provide a bracing corrective (The Rivalry of the Applicants). (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Emperor-City’s New Clothes

Monday, August 4th, 2008

As everyone is well aware, the Beijing Olympic Games are coming up this weekend, and so while everyone has to wait a few more days for the athletic spectaculars to begin, the focus of media attention is falling mainly on the host city that is setting the stage. Will the air be clean enough? (The jury is still out; we might not know until the actual dates when the particularly atmosphere-sensitive events – e.g. running, bicycling – are scheduled.) Will the authorities allow free access to information, mainly via the Internet, to enable visiting journalists to do their work? (That one is still touch-and-go as well.)

On-the-scene reports are now popping up in the media to give the outside world a sense of how the Chinese capital city has been improved and “cleaned up” in preparation for the Games, with the accent on the often extreme measures that the authorities have taken to do that. Jen Lin-Liu has a piece in today’s NYT (Beijing Under Wraps) touching on many of these below-the-surface measures, invisible to foreigners just now flying in to take part in some way in the Games’ staging. (Few foreigners, it turns out, will be flying in just to serve as spectators, if Lin-Liu’s description of the newly-stringent visa regulations is any indication.) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Don’t Breathe the Air!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The Dutch semi-tabloid De Telgraaf reports today on special preparations that the Japanese Olympic team is taking for the games in Beijing: Mouth-Covering for Japan’s Athletes. Yes, the Japanese Olympic Federation will make available to all national athletes the sort of wearable mouth-and-nose covering normally worn by construction crews.

It is perhaps not so surprising to see this coming from the Japanese, since people from that part of the world (i.e. including Korea, Taiwan) seem to be readier than most to go around in public looking like some sort of surgeon’s assistant, often not due to any fears of polluted air but rather things like catching someone else’s air-borne virus. But it’s an idea that could well spread to Japan’s Olympic competitors, since air quality at the games continues to be a concern despite the drastic measures Chinese officials have taken to clean it up.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Top Pharma

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Congratulations to Carlos Sastre, who yesterday won the 95th Tour de France, but let’s also issue a shout-out to his doctors, who managed the difficult feat of doping him up over a grueling 23-day tour well enough so that he could win the thing, but not too well, so that anything untoward would show up on any test (but was any sort of sample ever taken from Sastre? – the article does not say) and/or any particular day’s achievement would appear so out-of-the-ordinary as to raise the usual suspicions.

Still, if you look at that article (it’s the coverage from the NYT, which I am wont to link to when it’s just a matter of giving you a source for the simple facts, ma’am, about some event that has happened; it seems like English is the best language to go with in that situation), there is mention of a “surprisingly strong ride in the final time trial.” Hmm – “surprisingly strong,” and the article also notes that Sastre knew very well that it was specifically the time trials that he would have to do better in during the Tour, in order to finally win the thing after coming up short so many times before. Floyd Landis, you might recall, also had a “surprisingly strong” stage two years ago when it looked like he was falling behind and would lose his overall Tour lead; that was when he flunked the doping test he was administered immediately after. I ask again: was Sastre tested after that “surprisingly strong” time trial stage? (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Cleanse Your Prejudices About the Chinese Here

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

At this point there are a little more than two weeks left to go before the start of the 2008 Peking Olympics. To prep those Germans planning to attend (although it now seems far fewer foreigners are planning to show up than had initially been estimated), the German newsmagazine Focus has put on-line an amusing set of mini-articles about the prejudices held in the West about the Chinese (Chinese Cannot Pronounce R), e.g. that they eat dogmeat, they all look the same, etc. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Tour and “Second Generation” Epo

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Some things in life are entirely predictable. The sun comes up in the morning to the East; bears carry out their excretive functions in the woods; the Pope admits to being a practicing Catholic; and, one after the other, riders in the Tour de France are caught and banned from the race for doping offenses. The latest two-wheeled transgressor, Riccardo Ricco – not to be confused with Cuban band leader and husband-of-redhead Ricky Ricardo – had actually already won two of the Tour’s stages; his ejection from the competition led his entire team, Saunier Duval-Scott, to voluntary withdraw from the Tour as well. (Oh, and I’m reminded of yet another entirely predictable thing by the line in that New York Times article linked to above that reads “On Sunday, after Ricco’s second stage victory, he angrily denied allegations that he had suspect blood levels or that there was any reason for him to be targeted by French antidoping officials.”) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Expanding the Olympic Games – German Style

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

After the unblinking look at the quality of American education (and the supposed American intellectual-level generally) on this site of a few days ago, it’s refreshing to see an article in which a German newspaper turns its focus back on the qualities of the Germans themselves, if in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

That’s what we see on-line today at the Süddeutsche Zeitung with the article The Games Must Be Expanded! (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

What’s A Gold Medal Worth?

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004

Great commentary today from NYT sports-writer George Vecsey: Athletes Who Use Drugs Are Cheating the Fans. Go ahead, check it out and read about one Johann Muehlegg, who had all three cross-country skiing gold medals he won at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games taken away from him for “use of a banned substance.” German name, huh? (actually, more Austrian) – except that he was competing at Salt Lake City for Spain, a country he found it more convenient to pledge his allegiance to – for whatever reason: tax? – notwithstanding that he couldn’t speak a word of Spanish and probably wouldn’t know a tapa from a tortilla. (Of course not! The latter is Mexican, anyway.)

What if I submit the assertion that this Johann Muehlegg in Utah in February, 2002 (and whenever else) prostituted his body – not to mention his nationality – far more seriously and disgracefully than, say, any of the women sitting behind the rose-colored windows around three kilometers or so away from where I now sit in Amsterdam? At least he looks (properly) like a fully-credentialed idiot, holding up two of his bogus gold medals in the Associated Press photograph that heads Vecsey’s commentary. Check it out. And then stop wondering why many people, myself included, have stopped being willing to take the Olympic Games seriously.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)