Drugged up

first_imgThis summer Lance Armstrong completed one of the most amazing performances in sporting history, absolutely dominating the three week, 3,000 mile super-race that is the Tour de France to  seal an awesome seventh win in succession. The majority reaction, among fans of the race was far from uniform adulation. Admiration was present, of course, but it was clouded with a wondering – is he a drugs cheat? Armstrong points out that he’s the most tested man in his sport; but more and more people just don’t buy it. It seems incredible – but  scratch the surface it becomes depressingly obvious that there’s every reason to doubt Armstrong and his colleagues in sport.The fundamental problem is that drug testing simply doesn’t work. It’s not just the huge difficulty of finding deliberately hidden compounds within the vastly complex mixture that is human blood; it’s the fact that often, it doesn’t even come to that because scientists simple don’t know what they’re looking for. EPO, arguably the most notoriously abused drug in history, came onto the cycling scene in the 1980’s; even though usage was known to be rife and determined efforts were made to prevent it, it took till the Sydney Olympics in 2000 for a test to be developed and approved. The same is true of the wonder drug of this decade, THG. Drugs authorities did not even know it existed until a coach anonymously sent a syringeful to US drugs authorities. The results are predictable: David Millar won the World Time Trial  Championships in 2003 and passed every test on the way and subsequently; but after a police raid on his home found syringes and banned substances, he confessed not only to cheating but that he still had the syringes he used to win the title!This allows drugs to simply instituionalise themselves within a sport. It only takes a handful of ruthless individuals. Their performances improve; their opponents must then choose between  losing and juicing up. Of course, this is less of a risk in games of skill like football or cricket, but in the realm of sports where athleticism is half the game, it can be pervasive. Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter (pictured) who won the 100m at the 1988 Olympics only to be disquailfied for using steroids, was once asked why he didn’t compete drug free; he replied this was tantamount to putting his blocks a metre back at the start.Even worse, while cheats get away with it there is no incentive for  administrators to crack down: drugs guarantee new records – they are manna from heaven. As former European 100m Champion Dwain Chambers says, “people want a show”; there can be no doubt drugs bring that. Again, the results are plain to see, in American Football and Baseball in particular; here drugs testing regimes were for years next to non-existent. Cyclist Paul Kimmage, in his book on pro cycling, raged at the governing body he felt created a system which left cyclists with little choice but to cheat.Many ask if Chambers is right – does it really matter if athletes use chemicals to enhance their performance? The answer is a definite yes. Performance enhancing drugs are illegal, and with very good reason: they wreak havoc with the human body to the extent that some are nothing short of lethal. Marco Pantani, the 1998 Tour de France champion, later banned for doping, died last year of heart troubles at just 34; Petra Schneider, the star East German swimmer, is just one of a gaggle of her countreywomen who are very sickly today. Quite aside from the moral argument, anything which forces athletes to choose between risking their career and risking their lives must be stamped out. Which brings us back to Armstrong. Is he cheating? Given that others cheat, and that he always beats them, how could he be clean? Along with all sports fans, I think, I pray he is. The cancer-surviving popular hero has come to symbolise gaining sporting success through grit and tough training. If he’s found to have cheated after denying it for so long, it may be a death knell for the popularity of athletic sports. Sprinting, those old enough to remember say, never recovered from Johnson’s disqualification at Seoul; it would be a shame to see more sports follow suit. Personally, I succumbed to cynicism when l’Equipe announced they had discovered six Armstrong samples from 1999 containing EPO. I still think he’s a great cyclist, because I think everyone in cycling cheats; but I’ve little faith in any of Armstrong’s protestations of innocence.ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005last_img read more

Oldenburg Academy presents ‘Godspell’

first_imgOldenburg, In. — The Oldenburg Academy invites the public to the production of Godspell March 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children. For more information please call 812-934-4440.last_img

USC nets victory in Enfield’s home debut

first_imgUSC’s 95-79 win over the Cal State Northridge Matadors did not come as a surprise for new head coach Andy Enfield and his run-and-gun squad, but there was a certain atmosphere and excitement at the Galen Center on Tuesday for this year’s Trojan basketball team that had to have come as a shock for those familiar with past teams.Off and running · USC senior guard Pe’Shon Howard (10) helped lead a fast-paced Trojan attack in Tuesday’s 95-79 victory over Cal State Northridge at the Galen Center. Howard finished with seven points and two assists. – Chris Marquetti | Daily TrojanIn recent years, USC has been excruciatingly methodical, so Trojan faithful were more than pleased to see an early alley-oop dunk from freshman guard Julian Jacobs and a series of aggressive drives from sophomore guard Chass Bryan. Those types of plays came early and often for USC (1-1) on Tuesday night, and they will only increase in volume and efficiency as the season matures. Even more exciting for some was the newly founded basketball student section, the “Enzone,” which did its best to express disagreements with the referees all game long while wearing matching “Enzone” T-shirts. Still, the victory did not come easily against an experienced Matadors squad, as the Trojans were sloppy at the beginning with eight first-half turnovers and a series of ticky-tack fouls that frequently put Northridge at the foul line, allowing them to remain in contention. The Trojans were also hurt in a major way by a rough start from junior guard Byron Wesley, who made just two of eight shot attempts in the first half. He was still able to get to the free throw line, but in general the Trojans seemed over-anxious to make plays early, and were fortunate to enter the half leading by 11. “I missed a lot of easy shots, but I know when my shot’s not falling, I can do a lot of other things on the court,” Wesley said. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Out of the halftime break, Enfield saw more of the same, as a few erratic turnovers, including an ill-advised lob from Bryan, allowed the Matadors to cut the deficit to five a few minutes into the second half. USC would eventually settle down, though, thanks in large part to freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic, who made his first five shot attempts, including a pivotal three-pointer that halted a Northridge run early in the second half. Leading by just seven with roughly 10 minutes remaining, the Trojans seemed to finally find their stride, ignited by a three-pointer from senior guard J.T. Terrell that bumped the USC lead back up to double digits. Fans were surprised by the notable absence of Terrell in the starting lineup following his 20-point performance in the season-opening loss against Utah State. Enfield said the decision to sit Terrell out was because of academic reasons. “Playing time is earned in practice and in games,” Enfield said. “[Terrell] started our first game because he earned it. It’s a game-by-game decision. The way I coach, no one’s guaranteed minutes—you have to earn it on the court and in the classroom” Still, his shot proved to be the turning point, and he showed no signs of contempt for the coaches’ decision. A three from Jacobs and several layups from senior guard Pe’Shown Howard were enough for the Trojans to build up a 16-point advantage that they never came close to relinquishing for the remainder of the game. Though the level of execution seemed to fluctuate for the Trojans all game, one thing that was constant was the change in the players who were on the court. Enfield, still getting a feel for his roster, used 12 players against the Matadors. “We’re still trying to figure out everyone’s role on the team,” Wesley said. “We have a lot of talented guys ready to play.” Senior center Omar Oraby, who seemed eager to answer critics who thought he would not be able to fit well into Enfield’s fast-paced system, played with dominance, consistently muscling his way down low both on offense and defense. The Cairo, Egypt native punctuated his stellar performance with a three-point play amid multiple defenders late in the second half. His three points put the Trojans up by more than 20, and from there it was a cakewalk to the finish line for USC. Oraby finished up with 17 points and shot seven-for-eight from the field, one of his most productive offensive nights since he transferred to USC from Rice before last season. USC plays next on Friday at 8 p.m. against Northern Arizona. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.   Follow us on Twitter @dailytrojanlast_img read more