The Longer, Unwinding Road

by Rant on June 25, 2008 · 8 comments

in Doping in Sports, Justin Gatlin

Interesting day in the Rant household. When I got home from work today, there was a big box waiting for me. Kind of heavy, too. Inside: Ten copies of Dope: A History of Performance Enhancement in Sports from the Nineteenth Century to Today. About 20 months from the time I first talked with Debby, my editor, about the possibility of doing the project, there’s a real product sitting in front of me. Before today, it’s been stacks of printouts — whether they were drafts of chapters or galleys from the publisher, the stacks were just pieces of paper with words on them. Seeing the actual bound book and being able to leaf through it makes the whole thing real.

I’m not exactly sure when the books will be arriving at various places (like Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com). It looks like the printer is down near my native St. Louis in a town called Troy, judging by the return address on the box’s label. I’ve been told that the books should arrive at the publisher’s warehouse by the 26th (which is tomorrow as I write this). I’d imagine that the online stores will be getting them shortly thereafter. So now, the fun begins. For those who’ve already ordered copies, they’ll be coming soon. To everyone who buys or reads the book, I hope you’ll find it easy to get through and informative. And now, on to other topics.

Update: While Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com don’t seem to have the book available just yet (I’m guessing they will in a few days), if you want to be the first kid on your block to have a copy, Greenwood Press (my publisher) is already listing the book as “In Stock.”

Bruyneel in Milwaukee

Last Thursday, I heard Johan Bruyneel speak at a booksigning not far from where I live. Interesting man with a number of interesting stories. I’ve been busy transcribing the tape, and eventually I’m going to make the full transcript available for those who want to read it. If I can find a way of digitizing the tape, I’ll make that available, too. There’s two glitches in the tape. Once, where the recorder slid into something else and accidentally stopped for a moment, and the other time when I accidentally performed a Rose Mary Woods on about 3 seconds of tape that I’d already transcribed. (Me and my fat fingers.) The next post (really) will have my write-up. I’ll start writing that as soon as a I finish this one. Don’t expect it for a day or two, however.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

The Justin Gatlin case keeps taking twists and turns, eh? First he gets a restraining order allowing him to compete in the US Olympic Trials, and then the judge reverses himself and says, “Scratch that. I don’t really have the authority to make them do anything. Gatlin’s being wronged, but I just can’t do anything about it.”

And, of course, the IOC has said quite clearly that if Gatlin is on the team, he won’t be allowed to run. Which means any ruling here by any court isn’t going to really matter. What’s the likelihood that a US Court can make an agency based in Lausanne, Switzerland bend to their wishes? A snowball’s chance in hell, as the old saying goes.

Judge Collier’s ruling is interesting, for a number of reasons. Why on earth would he reverse his previous ruling? In looking at the law (the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, to be precise) , he found that the USOC has the sole right to determine who will or won’t be on the Olympic team, and that under IOC/USOC/USATF/WADA/CAS rules, Gatlin is not entitled to challenge the CAS’ rulings, except in Swiss Federal Court. Judge Collier finds that Gatlin’s original positive test was a “paperwork” violation, and he notes:

Mr. Gatlin was and is still being sanctioned because of this “paperwork” violation which, as stipulated [Rant’s Note: by USADA, no less], did not enhance his performance. Nonetheless, the USOC argued before this Court that the Committee stands apart from the actions of USADA, and neither can it or will it take action even in the face of this injustice. The basic argument from these Defendants is that they are not interested in fairness for Mr. Gatlin; they are interested only in their rules.

As stated by Mr. Christopher L. Campbell dissenting from the opinion of the 2006 AAA Panel:

By imposing sanctions on athletes like Mr. Gatlin who take medication for their legitimate disability, the Anti-Doping Organizations are willfully violating the law–behaving as if they are above the law. In these circumstances, they are nothing more than bullies preying on the vulnerable. The federal government should take a serious look at this practice.

Interestingly, Judge Collier makes note of the threats to challenge his ruling in the 11th Circuit Court.

The defendants have threatened to appeal the orders of this Court. To assist any review under the time constraints this case presents, the following is offered. Should the appellate panel find that this Court does have jurisdiction, this Court would grant a preliminary injunction lifting the suspension of Mr. Gatlin based upon a continuing violation of The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The Court would find:

1. Mr. Gatlin suffers from a mental impairment that substantially limits one of the major life activities, learning;
2. The USOC, USATF and the IAAF operate a place of public accommodations;
3. These defendants took adverse action against Mr. Gatlin in 2001 based on his disability and continue to do so; and
4. Reasonable accommodations have not been made.

As a result, Mr. Gatlin’s positive test in 2006 would be considered his first offense resulting in a maximum two year suspension from competition.

He then discusses the history of Gatlin’s two-year ban, and what the start dates have been. He concludes by saying:

Although the start date was later changed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) without explanation, this Court would find the start of a two year suspension to be on May 25, 2006, as did the 2006 AAA Panel, and that it would end on May 24, 2008.

This Court would then find: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) that irreparable injury will be suffered by Mr. Gatlin if relief is not granted: (3) that the threatened injury dramatically outweighs any harm relief would inflict on the defendants; and (4) that entry of relief would serve the public interest.

The judge uses some pretty strong language in what he has to say about this case. Given the way the law has been constructed to insulate the USOC and their associated agencies from oversight by the courts, he’s left having to lift the temporary restraining order. But, at the same time, it’s clear he doesn’t like the result, and he doesn’t like how the USADA/USATF/USOC and company have treated Gatlin. To repeat his observation from above:

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snake June 25, 2008 at 8:40 pm

DIBS ! I get one of the ten !

Ha, just kidding. I can shell out for one from Amazon.

Congrats Rant, it’s been a pleasure mostly lurking softcopy here. It will be interesting to read your book.

I was kind of wondering if the release of the book needed to be after Floyd’s CAS decision was announced, so the afterword could really be the “latest”. But then, who can wait *that* long ?

Rant June 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Snake,
Thanks, most appreciated. Good having you lurking and occasionally commenting here.
In planning the book, we were working towards a June 2008 release the whole time (and given the usual time frames, this was actually pretty quick). I actually thought, way back in September 2006, that the CAS decision would be rendered after the book went to press, but before the time it came out. I figured wrong. Who would have known things would still not be settled at this point? The Afterword is actually online, and I plan on updating it at fairly regular intervals. As soon as Floyd’s case is settled, I’ll get to adding in the final resolution. Poor guy, two years on and he still doesn’t have an answer.

Jesperio June 25, 2008 at 10:52 pm

As was evident from the very beginning of Floyd Landis’s troubles, the guardians of the anti-doping world are more corrupt and less moral than the people they prosecute. I have not seen any indications that this situation will change as they appear to answer to no higher and neutral authority.

IMO, there’s no point in routing for anyone since anyone can be arbitrarily banned and there’s no reason to support cheating officials. So my conclusion is simply to abandon watching professional cycling, high level track, field, & water sports, etc.

(I’ll just rave and rant at bad futbol officiating instead…)

William Schart June 26, 2008 at 6:03 am

Rant:

I hope the Mighty Mississip behaves enough to not interfere with your publishing.

Sam Veal June 26, 2008 at 6:33 am

Looking forward to your book! Thanks for the keen insight into the mangled workings of the keepers of the “Flame”. I agree with the assertion that, in light of, the irrefutable indications of malicious malpractice on the part of “entitled” agencies, a groundswell of demandable, actionable, protest is needed. It, surely, should be as well designed and strategized as the successful Obama campaign. It does need to have as its “weapon” of choice…the force of funding withdrawel…from the main sources of their “bread”…ie: Governmental appropriations and Sponsorship support. Does anybody really care about the rights of the athletes? Or are they just the proverbial pawns on the chessboard?

Rant June 26, 2008 at 11:24 am

Jesperio,
I wonder how many other fans have abandoned cycling, track & field, and other sports because of the WADA Brothers Anti-Doping Circus.
As you said, there’s always ranting and raving over bad calls by futbol officials. That, I suspect, will never change. 😉
William,
I certainly hope that Ol’ Man River won’t be interfering in any way. As long as the bridges aren’t flooded out, the books should be flying off the shelves real soon. Well, I hope they’ll go flying off the shelves, anyway. 🙂
Sam,
Thanks, I hope you enjoy the book. It would be good to see a groundswell demanding that the various agencies clean up their act. I hope people care about the rights of athletes. But I’m afraid most people don’t care until it’s their own heroes that are caught in the clutches of the ADAs. It reminds me of the old poem, “First, they came for the Communists. But I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.”

Morgan Hunter June 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Rant

Looking forward to reading your book pal.

As Larry pointed out just the other day, sadly we seem to be a “minority” in our insistence and expectation that pro cycling, the alphabet soup adhere to “fair practices” in the governance of the sport and the individual handling of its member athletes. FAT CHANCE! Has anyone been keeping track of what has been happening in our own JUSTICE DEPARTMENT?

It would seem that “justice” has been taken over by the Bush Gang and turned into a “political animal!” When the Attorney General himself is nothing but a “political lap-dog” for for the particular group in power – the expectation of “justice” is an ideal that is based on nothing but fantasy!

How can we expect justice from the alphabet soup when justice and “fair play” are nothing but “spin phrases” to bandy about to keep the public deluded and that everything is just honky-dorie?

There is a very easy and direct solution to the present “game” going down in pro cycling. Don’t participate! After all – how intelligent is it when you go for a job KNOWING that the boss is a crook and that more then likely you will find yourself doing your work in all sincerity and thereby winding up holding the short end of the stick!

One has to ask the question – is Tygart an actual “lawyer”or is he just one of the faceless political hacks that the present administration has PUT INTO PLACE? One has to ask oneself – is anyone else not comfortable with the idea that we have rules and laws we are expected to “live by” and the governing bodies may simply just ignore them when it so suits them?

Rant June 26, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Morgan,

Me, too. I wonder how the book ends? 😉 (Spoiler alert: They didn’t all do what they’re supposed to have done.)

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