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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Evening Decathlete

What did we learn this week?

Eddy Hellebuyck's doping story.  Back in 2004 he tested positive for EPO and vigorously fought it, all the way to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (and lost).  Now he's finally admitted it, breaking the news in a lengthy, even-handed and very interesting article in Runner's World.  If you care even one iota about drugs in sports, you should read it.  I won't try to summarize it; rather, take the time and read it.  The whole thing.  It's worth your time.

There is always more to any story than what gets printed, and almost always more to the story than what is told to a reporter.  I feel like there's a lot we're missing.  For one, it's presented that no one in this morality play besides Eddy himself had any influence on his decision to start using EPO, which I find hard to believe.  Hellebuyck is described in many ways, some complimentary and some not, but "headstrong" never enters the equation.

Marion Jones is sorry she got caught lied.  She's got a new book out, she's on some apology tour, blah blah blah.  And John Singleton's ESPN 30 for 30 film on her comes out this week.  Ennui does not even begin to describe my attitude towards Jones.  Even the Associated Press cuts right through all the BS in their interview:
Marion Jones wants you to know she's sorry.

Not so much about the performance-enhancing drugs she took — unknowingly, she says — when she was the most famous and lauded track athlete in the world, a winner of five medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, medals she no longer owns.

What Jones really wants you to know is she's sorry for lying to federal investigators about her drug use. That, and her role in a check-fraud scam, are what landed her in prison for six months in 2008, during which she spent a month and a half in solitary confinement after fighting another inmate.
Do you think that maybe -- just maybe -- the RW story was published this exact week in order to make Jones look like self-serving jackass in comparison? Or is it just that she is a self-serving jackass even without being juxtaposed against real honesty?

The weakness in the WADA code.  By coming forward with at least some admission of using PEDs, Hellebuyck is putting himself at some financial risk.  Admitting that he was in violation of rules in the 2001-2003 time period means it's possible that he could be forced to repay part or all of the prize money and/or victories over those years.  Jones' steadfast refusal to admit any more than what the feds got out of her will allow her to keep her medals and her money she took home between 1997 and 1999. 

Forget the code of silence among crooks that will keep the vast majority of dopers from saying anything.  The system has greater penalties for being forthcoming about use than for maintaining the "I never did it" front.  This is a major, major problem.  Anyone who has the conscience and the guts to explain what they did must forfeit titles (and sometimes money) from the years as far back as they fess up to.  This is an additional penalty above and beyond a suspension.

Example: Kelli White told all on BALCO and got a two-year suspension plus an expurgation of the previous four years' results.  Regina Jacobs, on the other hand, fought it vigorously and lost nothing but her suspension.  And the general consensus is that if she wasn't using anything before her 2003 positive test, then Jerry Lewis is the f***ing King of England.

Who is fighting for the NCAA Cross Country Championships.  The five top-ranked men's teams going into Conference Championship Weekend were Stanford, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Iona and Oklahoma.  Stanford easily turned back Oregon 25-56 at the Pac-10; Oklahoma State dominated the Big XII with a 1-2-3-4 finish to tally just 19 points while Oklahoma ran third behind Colorado; and Iona had a Boise State-style roughshod run over the MAAC. 

By everything we've seen so far this year, only two teams have any real shot at the NCAA title, those being Stanford and Oklahoma State.  Both have very good front runners who have swept the top spots in good and deep races.  Who will win?  My gut instinct tells me OSU, but that doesn't mean anything because I'm an idiot.  What I do know is that I'll be there to see it and it will be exciting.

On the women's side, right now it looks like Villanova will have no challengers.  At the Big East championships, the Wildcats beat two top-ten teams by a healthy margin.  Over at the Pac-10, #2 Oregon ran third (and avoided fourth due to a sixth-runner tiebreaker), while #3 Florida State and #4 Texas Tech won their conference meets looking good but not great.

The animal conspiracy has spilled over to running.  Tim Bedore should have seen this coming.  Two weeks ago, a ten-year-old runner in Ontario got knocked over by a deer during a pre-race course walk-through.  Last week, a Wisconsin runner was knocked down by a deer during the run-in to the finish and narrowly missed qualifying to the state meet.  And during Saturday's Big 12 Championships, there were reports of a top-30 runner colliding with a deer.  All of this could have been avoided if Obama hadn't come for our guns, and the runners had been able to properly protect themselves.  They would have been rewarded not only with trips to the podium, but the meat locker as well.

The New York City Marathon knows how to work the press.  Maybe it's just that I'm more plugged-in to sports news than I used to be, but it seems like there's NYC Marathon news two or three times a day...and it isn't even marathon week yet.  Kenyan marathoners and Meb Keflezighi are on commercials aired in prime time.  And on and on and on...

Today the NYRR came out with an iPhone app which deftly combines coverage of the professional athletes and the ability to track multiple more ordinary runners, such as friends and/or family.  It's a great app.  Brilliant.

Everybody's a comedian.  In a TFN discussion about who the next sub-44.00 quarter-miler will be, we got this gem:
I'll be expecting sub 43 from [LaShawn] Merritt - now that he'll have a third leg and all....

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