The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Corrections and Retraction

When I started this blog last summer, my intention was merely to express my thoughts as a fan and share them with other fans. I was shocked to find out mine was the only English-language fan blog dedicated to our sport; other sports have thousands.

Never in my life did I intend it to stir up controversy or get people mad. Well, that changed this morning. Normally I get anywhere from five to fifty hits a day; today I’ve had 234 so far.

On January 6 I wrote a post about Derek Woodske’s two-year suspension and some connections I thought were a bit odd. Apparently last night someone sent a link to it out via e-mail; most spent less than one second viewing it, but a few left some rather heated comments and two threatened libel suits. This post is an attempt to address those issues.

When writing about public persons, to prove libel the plaintiff must show that the writer knew his statements to be false or had reckless disregard for the truth. These are fairly high hurdles to get over, and furthermore neither applies here. Still, I'd like to address the issues.

My original statement was that Woodske was given a two-year suspension for refusing to take a test, which is a factual statement. I did add a statement that was unclear: that it "counts just like a positive result". By this I meant it earns the same penalty. While my statement might inferr wrongdoing, the same is true of the story issued by the AP and reprinted by hundreds of newspapers worldwide. My statements were no different and cannot be held to a higher standard.

As my statement regarding Jud Logan is concerned, my statements were limited to his career ending in a 1992 doping ban from a positive test for clenbuterol. This actually is in error; he resumed throwing at elite levels in 1997. An astute reader pointed this out and I admitted the mistake. As far as the doping ban, that is a factual statement. Logan himself issued a written statement at the time, referring to clenbuterol as a "safe alternative to steroids" and claiming he stopped using it in February (his positive test was in July). At that time Dr. Don Catlin said "It's unusual for any drug to be around the body for months" but did admit there was no research in this particular case to know for sure (T&FN, October '92, p. 87). In any case, Logan freely admitted using the drug as a performance-enhancer.

Aside from the triviality noted, none of my statements were in error--all check out factually. The retraction I'd like to make is the tenor of the post rather than the facts contained in it. Considering the BALCO and Sprint Capitol affairs, I'm of a cynical mindset these days when it comes to elite track and performance-enhancing drugs, and this attitude isn't unique. I noted the coincidental nature of these events and speculated as to whether they may be connected or not. This is where I have offended, and I apologize and regret the error.

1 comment:

Doug Reynolds said...

I think where you screwed up was in the intent for posting at all.

I believe you call yourself "track and field superfan", which seems like a farse. If you were a fan of the sport, you would realize that posts of a "cynical" or negative tone only serve to diminish the view of track and field in the eyes of the uneducated readers of your post. Insinuating connection between the isolated situations, especially some sort of connection with Blewitt's cancer, is framing a picture which completely obscures the truth and individuality of each situation.

You were uneducated on the Woodske situation and nobody can blame you, but why make public issue of the situation? Especially when the case has not been fully ajudicated? As you later learned, Derek has been issued a formal appology for their screw up. He was formally retired, which is supposed to excuse him from testing protocol.

Why link him to Jud's situation when he is a coach at a different institution, and he never tested positive while training under Jud?

Why even approach the issue of Adrien Blewitt? Her story is one of true inspiration, yet you frame her in a potentially negative light by insinuating that there may be some connection to the other cases.

Why not emphasize the positive?

If you want to talk about drug testing, state the fact that testing protocols are more stringent and standardized world wide than they have ever been. The sport is "cleaner" than it has ever been.

If you want to talk about athletes, tell the story of Adrienne Blewitt overcoming cancer to return to the sport. Talk about the lives of the athletes that Jud Logan has changed through the dedication and tireless commitment he has made to helping develop our great sport.

A true "track and field superfan" would realize that, in the wake of the public embarassment of the Balco / Sprint Capitol situation, our great sport needs a face lift in the eyes of the public and the youth athletes / parents. A true "track and field superfan" would be trying to build the public oppinion of our sport,.. not tear it down even further.

Perhaps, as a self proclaimed "Amateur Road Racer", you don't have enough insight into our sport to appreciate what I'm saying, but I would plead with you to deeply ponder and evaluate what I'm saying.

At the very least, if you choose to continue to spread the negativity of posts such as this one, provide a more balanced assesment of the drug situation in our sport. Over the past few years, there have been far more EPO positives in the distance events than steroid positives in the throwing, sprinting, and jumping events. If you feel compelled to harp on the negative, do so equally across all events. Throws and sprint athletes have a hard enough time overcoming the public stigma established long ago by athletes who have long since been retired, but the problem is one that is, and always has been, a problem in all aspects of our sport, and every other sport.

If you choose not to listen and accept my plea, at least consider a different alias that might be more appropriate for the tone of your views. "Track and Field SuperFan" seems far from appropriate!

Doug Reynolds
-Former Professional Discus Thrower
-Drug Free Advocate
-NCAA Div. I Throws Coach
-True "Track & Field Super-Fan"