Friday, September 21, 2007

The 24-hour reaction

Twenty-four hours after hearing from Trust But Verify about the 2-1 decision against Floyd Landis, I've been able to come up with a few coherent thoughts. Upon learning of this incorrect result by the arbitrators, I was dismayed, disappointed and angry. I was very demotivated - I had planned to bike to work on Thursday, but just couldn't seem to muster the energy needed to get on a bike. I am very demotivated to participate in the first competition for my sport this weekend. I'm theoretically an olympic athlete subject to this WADA and USADA incompetence, but only to the extent that my sport of fencing is an Olympic Sport. I guess I could go to the Olympics...if I bought a ticket. I dallied with the idea of openly doping for this competition simply as a matter of civil disobediance, and as a way of showing Dick Pound and his ilk just what I think of their keystone cops routine. Interestingly, ethanol is on USADA's list of banned substances, but it isn't on the FIE's (our version of the UCI.) Go figure. So yeah, I guess I'm a confessed doper, in that I had a beer once before a final bout. Go ahead, take away my national points, classification and my medals. USADA and their goons are welcome to show up and reposses them anytime they want - that's what I signed up for when I joined the USFA at $50/year to be able to compete and share in the Olympic Glory that is amateur sport.

So, the coherent thoughts I have now while we all digest the foolishness that Brunet and McLaren have presented us with, are these:

1. Fairness in sport is illusory. Even if you compete cleanly and fairly, there is a reasonable chance the system will persecute you for something you did not do. That system is designed to keep the powerful and wealthy that way. Talented and dedicated athletes need not apply;

2. Science is in peril. Courts struggle with competing evidence all the time, and the standards in American Courts arefairly rigourous. This AAA proceeding had none of the hallmarks of showing that the decisionmakers embraced the concept of peer-reviewed, objective science. In an age where there are people embracing non-scientific doctrine as fact, the light of science is being snuffed out. I recommend to all the book "The Demon-Haunted World" by Carl Sagan. It should be required reading for all high school students. It chronicles the history of the scientific method. That we accept as scientific proof an analysis without proper procedure, repeatable results and quantifiable assay is beyond me;

3, Is it possible Floyd is lying to us? Indeed it is possible, but I don't think so, and that isn't the issue. While the american justice and legal systems are not perfect, it is better than any other system I have studied. The US system embraces on a constitutional level the ideals of equal protection and due process of law. These are basic, immutable rights of citizenship that you should not have to check at the door when you go abroad to demonstrate your worthiness as a human, as an athlete, or as a tourist. In the US, we have the "exclusionary rule" in place to exclude evidence that is obtained in violation of our constitutional protections. This means that in fact that we must turn a blind eye to evidence of wrongdoing *even if that evidence is reliable* if that evidence was obtained improperly. Does this mean the guilty sometimes go unpunished? Yep. Why? Because we value our protections against an oppressive government above all else. I am far more afraid of the government with unchecked powers than I am of any terrorist. And now, the sport I love to watch and use to motivate my own development as an athlete has relegated these priciples of protection as subservient to maintaining their own power, wealth and prestige. I am angry - you've stolen from me, and I resent it;

4. Floyd: do not dispair. I can't imagine how disappointed you must be, but this decision does not change who you are - a champion and hero to many. I am inspired by your courage. Please accept my small donation at the Floyd Fairness Fund to your cause of protecting all of us as a small thank you. I support you, encourage you to continue the fight with a proper and compelling appeal, but understand that this is a very personal decision to make. I wish you all the best, and will stand beside you anyplace, anytime with respect and honor.

5. In a world haunted by great injustices, I am unsure why I am so incensed and emotional over what may to some seem to be a trivial matter: the outcome of a sporting event. But where does it end? In starting a new job recently, I had to submit to medical and drug testing. As I was putting a bit of head on the demanded fluid, it dawned on me: "what if they send this to some fucked up lab like LNDD?" We do need to think about perspective. There are many without food and shelter in my country, and that is tragic. But Floyd's issue - my issue - is one of fundamental fairness, and it can strike close to home at anytime. What if I came up positive on that drug test? Could I ever hold a job again? Who would know, and how would they find out? How quickly would I lose the ability to feed and shelter myself? Think about it. Then visit the FFF.

6. I hope to read more from other experts about the serious flaws in the outcome so we can understand the issues for possible appeals, and how we can keep cheap, shoddy "science" from destroying anyone's life, and a beautiful sport, ever again.

1 comment:

Rich said...

I second that.