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Tangential to that: Why are so many high-profile athletes being banned from track and field for marijuana? I know of no way in which it can help with performance, although I suppose it is useful for pain relief. But if it's not a performance-enhancing drug, why is it banned?

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2 minutes ago, Pariah said:

Tangential to that: Why are so many high-profile athletes being banned from track and field for marijuana? I know of no way in which it can help with performance, although I suppose it is useful for pain relief. But if it's not a performance-enhancing drug, why is it banned?

Totally agreed --  if anything it will act as a deterrent to top performance.

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1 hour ago, Simon said:

Question on doping: how long do you think until it's generally accepted?  It's always portrayed as "giving an unfair advantage"...largely because it's only those who break the rules that do it.  If the rules change to allow it, then it gets back to the origin of the rule...which, as I understand it, is meant to prevent the athletes from damaging their bodies in order to achieve peak performance.

That whole argument against performance-enhancing drugs has never rung true for me.  I was a competitive gymnast throughout high school and college.  Even without going to the national level, in order to compete at the level that I was at you put your body through hell (I'm paying for some of that now).  Professional athletes, in order to be competitive, are destroying their bodies (without drugs).  There are a number of banned drugs that will help alleviate some of that damage. Others that will allow for increased performance with less damage...and some that will increase performance at the risk of increased damage.  Where is the line that you draw? Most of the lines that are currently present seem arbitrary and based on false logic.

To take the Tour as an example, most of the banned substances that the riders are testing positive for are focused on increasing oxygen utilization and heart function. Some of the truly gifted riders come by these benefits naturally (larger heart capacity, etc.). The damage/risk that those taking the performance enhancing drugs face are not really any different from the damage/risk that those with a naturally larger heart/greater blood flow face.  We're talking about people that are going to push themselves to the utter limit, with or without the drugs to help them get there -- the damage is going to be done through the performance of the sport itself at that level of competition (regardless of the sport).

 

The problem I have is that it doesn't stay at the pro level.  It moves down, at least as long as it's technically feasible to do so.  (Any ingestible or injectable substance is feasible;  more complex tricks might not be.)  It was certainly true with steroids;  high school football players were taking it.

 

What's semi-safe for a 24 year old is also not necessarily semi-safe for a 15 year old.

 

Last:  athletes generally are told they're massively better than they are.  It's a common story in college basketball;  kid is sold he's a sure first rounder, maybe lottery pick...then gets drafted late 2nd or even early 3rd round.  The NBA only has about 450 slots, and player careers for those who can make it, run 10+ years.  There aren't that many spots available...and there's, what, roughly 1000 or so players trying for those spots.  Clearly, the transition from high school to college is even more harshly culled.  There's about a half million boys playing HS basketball...so you're looking at the top 2% making it into a college program.  But probably the top 10% think they should be.  Now throw in "yeah take this, you'll get just the edge you need!" and where are you?  Probably STILL not good enough.  For every 1000 boys playing HS...1 will make the NBA.  But if PEDs are acceptable...how many of that 1000 will develop serious issues because of the PEDs?

 

Let us also not forget the mindset of "anything worth doing is worth overdoing" particularly coupled with "2nd place is first loser."  If a mostly-safe level doesn't cut it...take more!  There's no such thing as a Pyrrhic victory because, damn it, we WON.  Who thinks about being crippled at 55 when the reward's sitting there *now*?  You get the big fat contract...it's in the bank, even if your performance rolls off dramatically due to the PEDs.  Whereas if you never did them, you probably never get the money in the first place.  (True in reality...maybe, maybe not.  Perceived true?  Highly likely IMO.)

 

That said, it's plausible it applies more to high-visibility sports...football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer primarily.  On the other hand, tho, athletic success is frequently correlated to a kid's self-image, so the pressure to Do Whatever It Takes to succeed is there in any sport.

 

So...let's start on the premise that PEDs should be allowed in pro sports.  OK.  How far down does that go?  Should PEDs be allowed in junior high?  Steroids WERE used that early at times...and absolutely in high school.  I submit that, no, we absolutely do NOT want PEDs at that level.  So we create a double standard, and we incentivize taking them.

 

On the pot testing...these are the reasons the WADA bans them:

 

1.  “Athletes who smoke cannabis or Spice in-competition potentially endanger themselves and others because of increased risk taking, slower reaction times and poor executive function or decision making.”

 

I can definitely see this in a sport like cycling, since we're talking TdF so much right now.  A crash in the peloton can wipe out 40 riders and cause serious injuries.  If the stupid with the sign in Stage 1 is being prosecuted for recklessness, then anything that compromises bike control seems fair game.  That said, that doesn't justify a blanket ban in all sports.

 

2.  “Based on current animal and human studies as well as on interviews with athletes and information from the field, cannabis can be performance enhancing for some athletes and sports disciplines.”

 

Wishy-washy.

 

3.  “Use of illicit drugs that are harmful to health and that may have performance-enhancing properties is not consistent with the athlete as a role model for young people around the world”.

 

Ahh, now there's the root.  It isn't about performance, it's about moral purity.  You can go out drinking every night.  You can have a different partner every night...who even cares if you're married?  But pot?????  OHHHHHhhh no!!!  

 

In this regard, the WADA strikes me as similar to the NCAA, with their rigid insistence on an idealized notion of amateurism.  Plus, of course:  the US probably pushed it because the bloody Commies did better at it!!!  Gentlemen, we cannot allow a PED gap!!!!

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For the drive to first (second place is first loser), that exists with or without performance enhancing drugs.  Athletes at all levels are pushed well past their limits.  I can attest to this personally at the high school level.  Not for some "you're gonna make it someday, kid" kind of vague promise - just to perform at your absolute top level. As a senior in high school, I was competing with six stress fractures in each forearm (taking 6 Nuprin at a time, four to six times a day).  Cartilage in my left elbow and wrist is virtually non-existent.  Etc. etc.   Was I going to make a career out of gymnastics?  Hell no...never was an intention.  But I was damn sure going to give it everything I had while I was in it.  If someone could have given me a drug to prevent the stress fractures in my forearms, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat.  Instead, you've got Olympic gymnasts who can't take collagen supplements much less pain relievers -- and those guys are going through far worse than I did.

I'll also note that drug testing of minors is not something that is performed routinely....or, at least, it wasn't way back in my day.  Were steroids and other drugs banned? Certainly.  If you were caught using them, you'd be booted from the team.  But that would take someone actually knowing that you were taking them -- i.e. someone having it out for the athlete (for whatever reason).  

 

The ban on performance enhancing drugs isn't about non-pro levels - they handle things their own way, typically though that "we have been informed that little Bobby (who weighs in at 250lbs of muscle at 15 years old) is taking steroids...we may need to look into that" mechanism. The ban really only applies in a formalized manner at pro and international levels of competition.

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4 hours ago, Cancer said:

So how likely is it that this year's Tour will be found to be dominated by doping?

 

The police went to see one team and searched the bus and hotel but found nothing. The team informed the media what happened. So the Tour will not be found to be about doping. The winner of the stage is tested every day and so Pogacar has been tested and is clean. It was not his team that was raided I should point out.

 

3 hours ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

Can you win the Tour de Frabce even if you do not win a single competitive stage?

Yes you can. It has happened before and will happen again. Egan Bernal was the last person to achieve this but Chris Froome did it in 2017. And Greg LeMond did it in 1990. And these are not the only examples.

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20 hours ago, Simon said:

...


I'll also note that drug testing of minors is not something that is performed routinely....or, at least, it wasn't way back in my day.  Were steroids and other drugs banned? Certainly.  If you were caught using them, you'd be booted from the team.  But that would take someone actually knowing that you were taking them -- i.e. someone having it out for the athlete (for whatever reason).  

 

The ban on performance enhancing drugs isn't about non-pro levels - they handle things their own way, typically though that "we have been informed that little Bobby (who weighs in at 250lbs of muscle at 15 years old) is taking steroids...we may need to look into that" mechanism. The ban really only applies in a formalized manner at pro and international levels of competition.

 

I remember reading a something a few years back about the testing done on a large sample of late-teens baseball players from Latin America (I think the Dominican Republic, but I no longer call clearly) recently signed to pro baseball contracts.  IIRC the results were consistent with at least the majority of them, and perhaps all of them, using performance-enhancing substances that MLB forbids.

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21 hours ago, death tribble said:

 

The police went to see one team and searched the bus and hotel but found nothing. The team informed the media what happened. So the Tour will not be found to be about doping. The winner of the stage is tested every day and so Pogacar has been tested and is clean. It was not his team that was raided I should point out.

 

 

From Cycling News:
 

Quote

According to a report in Le Parisien, two individuals, including one team boss, raised concerns over Bahrain Victorious' recent performances both at the Giro d’Italia and the Critérium du Dauphiné. They both refrained from going on the record, and admitted that they had no proof to back up the allegations or suspicions, but they nevertheless raised doubts over the team’s credibility.

 

And the team said there was no search warrant.

 

On the one hand, unfortunately, there's FAR too much history of this to dismiss it altogether.  On the other, executing such a search on unsubstantiated allegations strikes me as WAY out of line.

 

But as noted, this is only Bahrain Victorious.  They do have 2 stage wins, so it will have some impact...and clearly if they are proven to be doping, that's another big black mark...but it won't be another Floyd Landis situation.

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On 7/15/2021 at 11:06 AM, Pariah said:

I know, right? Are people afraid that if someone like Usain Bolt lights up before a race that he's actually going to run faster or be more focused?

IRRC, as a non-cannabis user (it's legal in Oregon, but I'm just not interested), cannabis is effective for the control of pain and stress after a hard contest. It is used by many athletes, even if leagues or the IOC have rules against it. NBA playersd still get suspende for cannabis, which seems silly. It is more based on an idea of morals (players are considered role models, in spite of Charles Barkley's powerful protest), and the presumption is that NBA players using without consequences would encourage young fans to do the same. Yet there are no rules against nicotine and alcohol which are just as detrimental to health. This may be because the league partly exists to sell alcoholic beverages.

 

So the IOC ban is based more on outdated moral qualms than on competitive advantage, and they have no qualms about destroying careers and lives in the name of not offending their sponsors.

 

Final note: Japan is paranoid when it comes to drugs. That has not much changed since the period where Paul McCartney was arrested, jailed, and finally deported during a world tour, all over a few grams of marijuana on hid person when he went through customs. 

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One of the traditions I quite like happens...well, rather soon now at the start of the last stage of the Tour.  IIRC, it's just the winning team, but a bottle of bubbly gets popped, and all the team members have some.

 

Anyone who completes the Tour has earned something like this.  They've gone through 3 weeks of sheer torture.  I dunno how it was 50 years ago, but all the recently retired riders always say the same thing...you get up, have your team meeting to discuss tactics, wring yourself dry over the next 5 hours, go through your recovery protocols, eat (and meals now are highly tailored, most teams have private chefs), and crash.  To repeat the next day.  Oh, and let us not forget the drug testing.  And for a diversion, a trip to medical to take care of a half dozen road rashes.

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And so the Tour is over for another year. Tadej Pogacar wins his second Tour de France within a year by the largest margin in years. He also wins the Young Rider and King of the Mountains for the second year in succession. Bahrain Victorious won the team prize despite the police raid. Mark Cavendish won the green Jersey for only the second time in his career and ten years after he last won it.

The big story is Cavendish. He was only in because Sam Bennett had an injury. He won four stages putting him equal with Eddy Merckx's record. And three of the wins where at places were he had triumphed before. as stated previously the route was set last year before anyone knew he could or would be racing. He had been out with a virus and depression and no-one thought he would race again but he had races with Decuninck Quick Step which he won and he was brought into the team as a last minute replacement. And boy did he deliver. Yes he did not get the record but he equalled it and was effusive with thanking the team for their help.

The other story was the grandson of Raymond Poulidor who wanted to wear the Yellow Jersey which his grandfather never did. And on the second stage he did it and held onto it for several days.  

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Cavendish may have slipped up a bit;  he got himself boxed with nowhere to really go until it was too late, so he didn't pull off win #35.  Green jersey was never at risk at the end;  he gained another 3 points at the intermediate sprint over the guy in second, making it 32.  Yeah, there were 50 points for winning the end sprint, but it also pays 20 places, IIRC.

 

It'll be interesting to see if Wout van Aert will get advanced to be a GC rider.  Won the sprint today;  won the TT yesterday;  won a climbing battle.

 

In Olympics news, Coco Gauff tested positive and is out.  Believe I saw 55 athletes or staff have tested positive.  Only 3 in the village itself, but we can only hope things don't change.

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USA-Sweden looks to be developing into a proper international football rivalry. 

 

Of course, this is only possible with the women's team. The men can't beat anybody.

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The Seattle Keraken, the newest franchise in the National Hockey League, completed its expansion draft, collecting one player each from 30 other teams (Vegas was left out). The last time a draft was run for expanding the league, Vegas took the players they drafted and cobbled together a team that came closer than any expansion team ever to winning the Stanley Cup.

 

While the Kraken could have gotten future Hall of Fame goaltender Carey Price, they for the most part passed on the bigger names available. Instead, as is traditional in expansion drafts, they most selected young pl;ayers that hopefully have strong upsides and can blossom with more ice time. It's hard to guess what will come of this team -- theoretically they are going to be bad their first few seasons, but they (and I) said that about Vegas too and -- well, if you are a hockey fan you know how THAT turned out.

 

Seattle has literally weeks to finish the upgrades to Key Arena before the team begins play.

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