Well, I have to admit that I've been a little down in the dumps lately. I've known that this WADA Code that rules over cycling and other sports is unfair at times but this latest example is down right ridiculous.
Recently two Arbitration decisions have been ruled on. One was with LaShawn Merritt, a 400m runner that has represented the USA in the Olympics. He was found to have DHEA in his system during his off season in the Fall of 2009. He took his case to arbitration and he proved that he ingested the DHEA unknowingly through the supplement ExtenZe. We've probably all seen the late night annoying commercials for ExtenZe. Haha, right? Well, I'm not laughing. I feel so badly for this guy who made a stupid decision but had no intention of cheating. Of course, Extenze spikes their product with DHEA so it's not on the label. And from what little I understand about dietary supplements - that's perfectly okay! DHEA won't harm anyone (it won't help them either but that's a different issue)...oh, except for elite athletes who are responsible for everything that goes in their bodies. As if we all have mass spectrometers in our basement so we can check compositions of everything we consume. Granted, Extenze isn't exactly a reputable company that anyone in their right mind would trust but no one is denying that he made a stupid decision. To me, this is the key point of the case - excerpt taken from the Arbitration ruling found on the USADA website:
"At his hearing, Mr. Merritt proved two things beyond a reasonable doubt, (i) he tested positive as a result of ingesting the product ExtenZe, he purchased at a 7-Eleven store, and (ii) he did not purchase this product to enhance his sports performance. His evidence was so convincing that after his submission the USADA agreed that Mr. Merritt's positive tests were caused by ExtenZe."
Okay, so USADA admits that he took it accidentally with no intent to cheat. We also know that the scientific evidence of the performance enhancing benefits of DHEA are inconclusive at best. So, in light of these facts what did the panel decide? They decided to reduce his sentence from 24 months to 21 months. A whopping 3 month reduction for a guy who took something that was mis-labeled in his offseason which likely helped him athletically in no way. Wow. I bet USADA feels all warm and fuzzy about that one.
Next up we have the recent CONI deal with the Danilo Di Luca case. Admittedly, I don't know anything about this case than what I read in the headlines. But here is the story in Velonews. So let me recap, Di Luca won a bunch of races and in particular finished 2nd on GC in the Giro in 2008 on CERA, the next generation EPO that didn't have an approved test until about the time he got caught. Well, Di Luca realized he couldn't beat the charges so decided he'd detail to the anti-doping authorities his doping methods. This disclosure was enough to get him a reduction from 24 months to 15 months. An admitted cheater, who won races 'doped to the gills' as they say, gets 15 months. And what did Di Luca have to say about it?
“I gave no names. I did it for (the good of) cycling, not to point the finger at any cyclists. I explained the methods (of doping). My decision to speak was above all to help educate the youth.”
Translation: "I'm not a narc! I didn't roll on anyone, I promise! I did it...I did it for the kids! Yep, it was all for the kids. Oh, and being able to race (and get paid a shit load of money) in 2011 may have played a small part in my admission."
That's our anti-doping system in a nutshell. If only I were an actual doper with knowledge of methods, suppliers, and other dopers - I too, could possibly get a reduction. Bummer, I guess I'll just have to sit out my 2 years.