Search This Blog

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympics and a National Lack of Character

Marion Jones on steroids...
The Olympics has come to an end.  Its interesting to compare it to the world "at large" as well as to think about what it means to us here in the US.

Over the last few weeks I read about how there was a team of 500 or so people in London to work on various drug tests for the events.

Five hundred.

The job: take urine and other samples from the athletes and check for "banned substances."

In the higher-end, sponsor-driven activities like track that means checking for steroids, EPO, and other performance enhancers.

According to the WSJ Belarussian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk was the first athlete stripped of a medal at the London games.

However, the Olympic committee still spends a lot of time going back over previous situations, like the 2004 games and cycling medalist Tyler Hamilton.  Hamilton was stripped of his medal for doping.

Hamilton was a teammate of Lance Armstrong on various US teams.

There was also Marion Jones who was stripped of numerous medals in 2007 after her doping became apparent in the BALCO scandal.

(Note that Jones wants everyone to believe that this was all a mistake, but follow the image link above and you will see that Jones was associated for many years with numerous folks involved in doping: boyfriends, the father of her child, and so on.)

Part of this is that a key element of the various "cheating" strategies involves developing doping agents and techniques that circumvent all known tests.  The IOC has an eight year window to strip athletes of medals after a competition.

This window seems to be barely enough time for the IOC to figure out what was being done and come up with tests to find it.  Biological samples are kept for long periods of times after IOC and other events, e.g., Tour de France, so that new tests can be applied to old samples.

What's interesting is how pervasive this is. 

Take Lance Armstrong.

Numerous teammates are found to be doping (and not just using performance enhancing drugs but also simple blood transfusions): Hamilton, Landis, and others.

Next, about a month ago ABC news reported "According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, a cycling team doctor; Dr. Michele Ferrari, a cycling team consulting doctor; and Jose "Pepe" Martí Martí, a cycling team trainer, have all received lifetime bans..."

Three folks involved in Armstrong's cycling team banned for life.

But there's another aspect to this I find interesting.

The now we find the failing USPS spent some $31 million USD to underwrite the US Postal Cycling team in Armstrong's heyday: 2001 through 2004.

Eight years later the USPS is has now missed some $5 billion USD in pension payments for August and plans on missing another $6 billion USD in pension payments this September (see this).

So what was the USPS thinking with regard to Armstrong?

Here we are some eight years later and Armstrong is now in the "end game" of dodging USADA doping investigations and the USPS is dodging bankruptcy (early on the now banned Luis Garcia del Moral denied Armstrong was doping).

Within a few years the USPS, if no intervention occurs, will be losing some $20 billion per year.

How is this "good sportsmanship?"  Many of your team mates as well as many of your "medical team" admit to doping and you stonewall investigations?

You "invest" in Mr. Armstrong instead of, for example, reducing debt or obligations, and find yourself defaulting years later.  Is this good judgement?

Sadly government and industry have combined in this catastrophic failure of leadership.

Little wonder the USPS is going down the tubes rapidly.  (And this is not something I am glad to see - I know various retirees who will be punished for the USPS's incompetence.)

But like Penn State and Joe Paterno - is it fair that the retirees will suffer if the USPS defaults?

No.  But they signed up for the program of their own free will.

Just as the USPS signed up with Mr. Armstrong.

When winning becomes the most important thing then character and ethics go out the windows.

We see it with the USPS cycling team.

We see it with Penn State.

Little wonder the US is on the ropes financially and in terms of character...

We've become the Soviet Union.

No comments:

Post a Comment