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  • Where to draw the line

    Okay, maybe this message belongs on the THG board, maybe not -- I'll let Ben, GH and Dan decide that --. But, I am a bit concerned about the direction that the BALCO case seems to be headed on a legislative front.

    If I read this clearly, here is the premise - congress and/or USOC will get the opportunity to see documents from the BALCO case. If they see an athletes name on the list and that athlete is said to have recieved drugs from BALCO, then that athlete will not be allowed to compete. Never mind that the athlete has not tested positive. But, all of the sudden the legislature wants to make sure that sport is clean and heavan forbid that there are any black eyes as a result of failed tests in Athens.

    I do support our sports drug programs, I would like to see the sport as clean as possible and I'm not a bleeding heart liberal. But what about due process? What about the damage of the lawsuits from athletes booted off the team when they hadn't tested positive? What about the double standard of an olympian being denied the ability to earn a living; but, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, et al keep being praised as gods in their sport(s)?

    I'm worried about a witch hunt at the expense of Olympic athletes (and T&F atheltes in particular) for the price of election year feel good efforts. In the end, it sort of reminds me of 1980 and the Olympic boycott. Lot's of posturing, lots of action that negatively affected sports and no long term positive result from all the bs.

    In the end though, it appears as though we (T&F) will get screwed regardless of what we do. By having a program that is stricter than many sports, we look dirty because we actually catch and punish people. If we take the stance of baseball, no one will believe the performances becuase they are obviously juiced (but isn't it funny how quickly everyone is to look past Bond's as he approaches Ruth and Aaron). If we get too harsh with testing and punishment, we run the risk of civil liberty and unfair labor practice suits.

    In the end, I still love the sport. I love to compete. I love to spectate. It's still a great sport to be involved with.

    That's why I'm so frustrated that our sport seems to be on the verge of being punished at a level that isn't going to be experienced by others.

  • #2
    Re: Where to draw the line

    In the crusade to clean up the sport we are caught between the 'whatever it takes' and the 'we're no worse than anyone else.' Due process must be followed, but where there's smoke, there's fire, and we need to douse the embers as soon as we see the spark flare up. Ergo, if there's reasonable cause, we suspend pending further investigation, just like we arrest pending indictment and trial.

    PS - I am NOT a lawyer - just a fan who does want the sport cleaned up (if possible).

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    • #3
      Re: Where to draw the line

      "But what about due process?"

      If I understand things correctly, athletes will be "booted off the team" and/or banned from competition if the records released show that they admitted under oath to the grand jury that they took banned substances. This is the same procedures used when Ben Johnson testified before the Dubin inquiry and his 1987 world record was retroactively removed.

      I don't think they are planning on banning people if someone else testified they gave them drugs, that might entail an investigation and trial/hearing of some sort.

      But what more "due process" can there be when the athlete in question admits under oath that they cheated?

      Personally, I think having some sort of legal investigation is a good thing. No more possibility for athletes to lie with little or no consequences or to try and produce fanciful excuses (beer & sex I think ranks among the best).

      Looking at the effect in Canada, but post-Dubin the anti-drug program of the CCES really took form. Canadian athletes are amongst the most tested in the world (across many sports). If a similar outcome can arise from US self-inspection, would that not be a good thing?

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      • #4
        Re: Where to draw the line

        >"If I understand things correctly, athletes will be "booted off the team" and/or banned from competition if the records released show that they admitted under oath to the grand jury that they took banned substances.<

        Nothing remarkable about that. An admission of having taken steroids has been a doping offense under IAAF and USATF rules for more than a decade.

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        • #5
          Re: Where to draw the line

          If the basis of booting them off the team is based on thier admission, that is one thing. I had a sense though that it included people that were implicated via documents but had not tested positive and had not admitted to use.

          But, it still means that we get dumped on while a bunch of pro athletes skate away because they don't have the punishment systems in place that T&F has.

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          • #6
            Re: Where to draw the line

            I don't know where I stand on all this (and I want to emphasize that this is my personal opinion, not necessarily that of T&FN). I agree with Tony. I too want a clean sport. I don't care if the men's 100 is won in 10.2. I just want to see a good competition.

            What worries me about the present case (and I too am no lawyer) is not just that athletes might get barred from the U.S. team even though they didn't test positive. That would not bug me IF they testified under oath that they took drugs.

            What truly worries me is that athletes might be banned without the all the testimony being made public. There's a link on our front page to a letter from from the USOC requesting the Balco testimony. If the USOC and USADA obtained it, used it to bar athletes from the team, and it's never made truly public, this would scare me. What do you others think?

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            • #7
              Re: Where to draw the line

              Here is my vote to leave the discussion here on the main board. While it is "drug" related it is more related to a bigger question of ethics and fairness that affects us all in a much bigger sense.

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              • #8
                Re: Where to draw the line

                I believe that it would be public. I read that they have a process for non-analytical positive cases. The anti-doping agency announces all penalties, regardless if public warning or suspension. They also make public the arbitration decisions, which have provided a great deal of information. You should read the Price and McEwen rulings, as well as some of the other cases. They provide some details that were never shared before when the USATF mishandled things.

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                • #9
                  Re: Where to draw the line

                  This is a good basis for discussion. Am I to understand correctly that your athletics drug enforcement agencies may suspend or bar athletes from competing in the Olympics if the athletes: names appear on the Balco invoices? I draw the line here: If your agencies can not be prove through collected documented evidence that an athlete received a heretofor banned substance directly from Balco - or any other source for that matter - then the athlete should not be subjected to fines, penalties, loss of income or loss of work. If the athletes are implicated and your agencies can prove that drugs were intended to reach these suspected athletes either directly or indirectly - as purchased and paid by the athlete in question, his/her coach or through a pass-through source, then I take an unequivocable stance in banning the athletes based on that fact. Moreover, athletes can commit purjury and lie under oath.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Where to draw the line

                    If
                    >the USOC and USADA obtained it,

                    They are going to get it now:

                    "The Senate agreed Thursday to release to Olympic officials and anti-drug monitors evidence that a committee has collected on banned performance-enhancing drug use among athletes."

                    http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cct ... 630.htm?1c

                    Anyone still think that the mentioning of it in Bush's SOU speech would lead to nothing?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Where to draw the line

                      Has anyone seen anything in print saying the senate obtained actual grand jury testimony. Everything I read indicates they received evidence, but I thought one article actually stated they had not received the actual grand jury testimony. That is a very significant difference.

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