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Thoughts & Words

30 Nov 2010

True or False? 

Italian Public Prosecutor Benedetto Roberti stated in a recent interview that "cyclists who don't dope lose about 40% in terms of performance compared to those helping themselves with drugs or prohibited methods." 
Analyzing the performances of the top 15 riders in the Plan de Corones uphill TT stage of this year Giro (basically all the best cyclists competing for the General Classification), the difference between the winner Garzelli (18.8 Km/h) and the 15th placed Szmyd (17.8 km/h) is about 5%. 
Now, there are three possible explanations: 

- all of the top 15 were doped 
- none of them were doped 
- doping does not improve performances by 40%. 

Liberalized Doping? 

Great clamor was caused by the recent statement of Anti-Doping Prosecutor Ettore Torri, claiming that "All cyclists are doped... If doping was not harmful to the athletes' health, it should be liberalized, at least among professionals."  
Already in 2004, Giovanni Spinosa (who was the Public Prosecutor in my famous trial) affirmed in a nice interview that for him "cyclists, soccer players, tennis players, are not sportsmen but entertainers and as such they should be regarded: enough with the hypocrisy, the true scandal is people pretending to get shocked, time has come to distinguish professionals from the rest of the sporting world." 
In a Financial Times article, the prestigious researcher David Owen went even further: sport without medicines is even more damaging than doping. Sport pratice is harmful. 

Personally I believe that the use of medicines, even when it comes to professional sports, should be opposed, but the approach to the problem should be different. 
It should not be an integralist and jacobinic prohibitionism, served with spectacular protagonism by the anti-doping movement, but an intervention with the realistic objective of putting everyone on the same level of competition, all the while preserving the health of the athletes. 

Follow the Rules 

A few days ago we saw the news of Alejandro Valverde losing the appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal in the attempt to lift the worldwide ban imposed by CAS. 
Nothing out of ordinary. 
The Tribunal underlined though that the "deliberation comes from facts determined by CAS", therefore it cannot "rectify or officially complete the arbitrators' observations, even if such facts have been ascertained in flagrantly INEXACT or RIGHTS VIOLATING fashion". 
Basically meaning that "sports justice" can move about and act as it pleases, even violating the rules of ordinary justice.  

Martin Hardie, an expert in anti-doping and law professor at the Deakin University in Australia, declared with regard to the anti-doping policy of UCI: "The current system is not sufficiently transparent and the key roles are not sufficiently indipendent. The UCI acts as ADMINISTRATOR, INVESTIGATOR, PROSECUTOR and JUDGE". 

Hematologist Giuseppe Banfi, who assisted Franco Pellizotti in his case, in a recent conference stated: "Frankly, when it comes to the Biologic Passport, there is a very closed attitude from a scientific point of view: the system is SELF-REFERENTIAL". 
Essentially, it's a close internal affair: WADA, UCI, "Indipendent Experts". 
A rather old vice, as denounced in the past by researcher Inigo Mujika: "It is obvious that WADA is a closed organization that does not follow the international rules of scientific pubblication procedures".

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