Archive for August 14th, 2012

Drugged-Out Mutant Olympics?

August 14, 2012

RAINING LOGIC ON A PLUTOCRATIC PARADE?

When It’s Too Good To Be True, It’s Too Bad To Be Swallowed.

***

Abstract: Drug usage is pervasive in sports… In some countries. That seems clear from the outsized results of some particular countries at the Olympics.  Yesterday sport medals were all about the DDR and the USSR, now it’s all about… (I stop here to not displease the corporate sponsors some readers may adulate…)

Solution? The Biological Passport used now for the Tour de France. Check anybody, any time. Worldwide. Some may say it will take manpower, but is not there an unemployment crisis?

That’s not all. As Nature puts it on July 19, 2012: “Are the games in fact a showcase for hardworking ‘mutants‘? And if Olympic rule-makers admit that the genetic landscape is uneven, should they then test every athlete and hold separate competitions for the genetically ungifted?”

Finally, having discarded colossal, jingoistic naivety, why not to embrace humanly engineered enhancement? Or is embracing honesty in sports a step in the wrong direction, that of eyes wide open, the one global plutocracy reviles?

***

Ah, the Olympics. I was listening to the announcements in London, and a young citizen of the USA, a distant relative, rose and asked her mother in an irritated voice:”What language do they speak?“. The mom said:”I think it’s French.” The youngster then sneered:“Why always French, why don’t they speak Chinese instead?

As this insolence was happening less than two meters from me, I had to intervene: “Learn this, little one. The Christians outlawed the Olympic games. The French restarted them, 15 centuries later. The French don’t talk Chinese, but French, and so, the Olympics were restarted with French as the official language.

France is not (yet) Tibet. The French introduced the metric system in the Olympics in 1796 CE, and the full Olympics in 1896; in 1924 the Winter Olympics were introduced in Chamonix, France, followed by Olympics again in Paris, a few months later. The official language of the Olympics is French (although some Anglo-Saxons claim it’s English). Another reason: French is the successor language of Latin, the games were held in that language for 6 centuries.

Moreover, on the face of it, France is the direct successor state of the Greco-Roman republic. England too, but less directly so: Greco-Roman civilization was transferred back through France (The Conqueror set-up Parliament). England seems to still have a way to go before mimiciking a Republic: England has a state religion, England has still no elected Senate, but a chamber of grotesque plutocrats called “Lords“, and a ridiculous monarch, basely adored by the simple minded, anathema to those who truly believe in SPQR.

In 393 CE, the fanatical Roman Catholic dictator Theodosius, originally a Spanish general, banned the Olympic Games, and other festivities, for being “too pagan“. OK, that was more lenient than condemning philosophers to death (another of Theodosius’ bright ideas).

Under the emperor’s orders, rabid Christians dressed in black closed and later tore down many wonders of the world. They had to destroy the world, so that their super hero the Crucified would swoop down again (as the Book of Apocalypse in the Bible had it). Most notably the Christian vampires destroyed the fabulous Temple of Zeus at Olympia and the giant Temple of Serapis in Alexandria (they also burned the library there, in Alexandria, later confusing that with a strictly Muslim blaze that happened 2 centuries later). Never mind that “zeus” and “deus” are two aspects of the same word (too brainy for vampires).

One of Theodosius’s successors, Theodosius II, ordered the Roman army to demolish the stadium of Olympia in 426 CE. That stadium could accommodate more than 40,000 spectators.

Thunderous universal applaud after the London Olympics. The corporate participants are very pleased, and they are making sure, in a huge propaganda campaign, that everybody claims to be pleased. Everybody else is a party pooper.

Never mind that the London Games cost twice more than expected, it’s the public who pays this sort of things. Meanwhile, let’s applaud, and consume simple stuff corporations sell us, starting with colossal amounts of naivety. Without colossal naivety, the plutocratic order would collapse, so it’s good to exercise the naivety muscle as much as possible.

OK, granted when one athlete from one tiny nation (Grenada) gets one gold medal, it gives that nation the highest count of medal per capita in the world (Grenada has about 100,000 souls). However, when Jamaica gets 12 medals, the anomaly becomes statistically significant, for someone who uniquely enjoys wisdom (tyrano-sophia).

Jamaica has long been famous in the 100 meters. The once hyper famous and most glorious Ben Johnson was born there. He later won a gold medal at the Seoul Olympic games, taken away from him three days later after he tested positive for some steroid. The hyper muscular Ben aggravated his case by claiming most athletes did this (‘40%’, he said).

He and his coach claimed Johnson had been deliberately contaminated by a third party, as he did not use that particular steroid (“because it made his body feel tight!”), but another one. International sport authorities were not amused. Woe onto the one who brings scandal! They treated Ben Johnson like the plague, claiming that any athlete competing with him would be viewed officially as “contaminated“, and barred from any competition. Mysteriously, when Johnson was disqualified, some of the athletes who went up as a result, had themselves tested positive.

(Plutocracy will not explain anything to you, but for what it wants…)

By the way the third sprinter at the London Olympics, the bronze medal, a USA citizen, was suspended for four years, for drug usage, in the past. No doubt he knows how not to get caught anymore.

How does one not get caught? Very simple. There are many ways. One way is masking agents. In France they are treated as the drugs themselves.

Or take the case of amphetamines. There are all sorts of variants in the chemical formulas. So what do greedy kitchen chemist contrive? They invent new one variants, not on the list of illegal amphetamine-like drugs. Those are not, strictly speaking, unlawful. Recently the customs in the Paris airports had a list they made themselves, of no less than 762 amphetamine variants, all not illegal, all of them that they informally seized (no charges, but no return of the drugs, either…)  

Before the London Olympics, Nature, the Britain based science weekly, published several articles on sports and drugs. The gist being that one should organize Enhanced Olympics (my term), and then some drug free Olympics. I agree with the idea, for a number of reasons that I will expose below. Moreover, how to do it.

One does not need to be a brain scientist to realize that, when some countries succeed as well as the DDR, the Deutsches Demokratiche Republic of old, there is got to be something not kosher going on. The DDR was the most successful country in the Olympics, per capita. For decades. DDR doctors gave drugs to their athletes, sometimes for decades, sometimes seconds before an event. Some guessed it at the time, and suspicions were confirmed after that police state was swallowed by West Germany, and tongues freed.

Jamaica, population 2.7 millions, got 12 medals in London 2012, no less. I am not trying to be racist and I am not suggesting that this is because the surviving slaves were those running the fastest away from their powerful white masters. Far from me such silly, traditional, half funny, anodyne remarks. I would instead direct my gaze towards the one in the know who suggested Jamaican athletes should be controlled around December.

Look at Senegal: same powerful West African genes as Jamaica, five times the population of Jamaica, and a very strong native and imported sport culture. Number of Olympic medals of Senegal? Zero. OK, one medal. Twenty years ago.

What’s the idea? Some drugs have long term effects: they build up muscles, tendons, ligaments and even the attending motor neurons. Do that in December, much of these physiological changes will last until July.

Control in July for a drug that one has stopped taking three months before, and unsurprisingly, it will not show up. Smart for chimps, but not too difficult for even a hare-brained sportsman to understand.

For decades, USA Olympic committees were in deliberate denial that drug usage was massive in USA sports. Corporate sponsors celebrated Marion Jones, all the way to the front cover of time magazine. The American media claimed she was going to get five gold medals. Even then, it was perfectly clear that Jones was officially connected to Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (a.k.a. BALCO). That was a drug factory, for the best. In the end, International instances told the USA that this could not be tolerated any longer, it was too blatant, and Marion Jones could not get as many drugs, and thus, medals, as she expected in Sidney. Further inquiries led to her going to prison, and returning five gold medals.  

The corruption of the system is obvious in the sense that not all the gold medals and titles attributed to the USA in connection to Marion Jones were rescinded. Never mind that IAAF president Lamine Diack, a Senegalese, stated that: “Marion Jones will be remembered as one of the biggest frauds in sporting history.”

So what of the USA in all this? Well, athletes are not controlled for drugs in many USA sports. Not at all. A hint: life expectancy of so called American football linemen is barely fifty years of age (even the aficionado sport magazines admit they are stuffed with growth hormones).

I have a passing acquaintance with some sports. I was astounded when I saw routine drug controls for private events in France, even for exotic disciplines. The same sports (such as climbing) have rigorously no control in the USA, and individuals practicing them, in the USA, are routinely taking drugs, and showing all the symptoms, complete with swollen wrists and female with suddenly jutting chins. It was amusing to see French sport climbers downing two liters of water within seconds of winning an event, and then, much more (drug controls happening after the hysterical celebrations).

What to do?

Well, France was in a quandary: for about twenty years, not one Frenchman won a stage in the Tour de France… except for Richard Virenques, who got caught for drug usage by French authorities, and became a black sheep barred from cycling.

Drug controls are ferocious in France. Why? In the 1950s, the top British cyclist, Tom Simpson, would have won the Tour de France, except that he died on Mont Ventoux. The autopsy of this highly successful athlete showed heavy drug usage.

In the 2000s, there was the pathetic spectacle of Lance Armstrong, always winning, with a smirk. In the beginning, he was embraced, he met with the French president. Later, though, old samples analyzed with more modern techniques showed drug usage (for example EPO on Turin to Briancon, a stage I saw with my very eyes!). Not perhaps too keen to be called Anti-American by the umbrageous USA, the French authorities did nothing about it. Instead authorities in the USA are prosecuting Armstrong on their own. Systemic controls by surprise at 5am had changed nothing: the smart ones, as I said, trained with drugs. 

This year, 2012, was different: the French won a lot of stages, and the best climber. For a first time, a Brit won the Tour (this Wiggins is a well known track world champion, and won the gold in London). Three cyclists were caught cheating, two them quite famous, and immediately expelled and  punished. A past multiple winner from Spain was barred (like Ben Johnson, he argued somebody had contaminated the meat he ate). From the ways victories during stages happened, it is clear that the Tour is getting clean.

How did the Tour authorities do it?  

By instituting a BIOLOGICAL PASSPORT. Union Cycliste Internationale and the Federation Internationale de Ski are increasingly using it (yes, France did not just create the modern Olympic games, other sports speak French as a first language).

All and any cyclist engaging in the Tour de France has to declare where in the world he is, at any moment, all year long. And is exposed to immediate control. Cheating on this (it happened, an athlete claimed to be in Italy when he was in Argentina) results in immediate disqualification.

Meanwhile, all results, in all other sports, absent a biological passport, ought to be taken tongue in cheek. OK, Usain bolts certainly smarter than Ben. OK, the queen parachuted into the stadium with dozens of gold medals. Well done, quite hilarious. Nice spectacle for the children. Tongue in cheek for those with drugs in cheek.

Maybe, indeed, Jamaica has a superior sport culture, and Britain too. If so, prove it. And if you don’t want to prove it, allow us to laugh.

Another dirty secret in sport competitions is that most successful athletes have successful genes. Those genes are increasingly known. How do we know if they have been injected or not? And is it fair to have mutants competing against normal humans?

Why can’t normal people become mutants too? More than 200 gene variants are associated to high performance in sports. As Nature puts it in “Genetically enhanced Olympics are coming“: … an option, if safe, would be to allow athletes who did not win the genetic lottery to ‘upgrade’ through gene therapy — a practice that is now banned as ‘gene doping’.

More generally, what is wrong about enhancing human capabilities? Did not EPO, besides helping Mr. Armstrong to dress in a yellow jersey, save millions of lives? Indeed EPO has become a routine medical treatment.

So let’s embrace enhancement. But let’s do it above the table, for all to see. Let’s admit many cheaters are winning, and many of the others who also win, the gods favored. And common people on common diets, common blood, common genes can have their own common Olympics.

Indeed what is wrong is cheating, claiming one is clean, whereas one is winning, precisely because one is dirty. And making a world, Olympic size cover-up about all this cheating, is an even more worrisome meta cheating, as it requires Olympic naivety. Among Pluto’s characteristics is invisibility. By making massive cheating officially invisible, the Olympic committees do not help the forces of goodness.

Instead the sport authorities imprint people on something very subtle: deep down inside, people feel there is something not right about some countries getting so many medals. But then they are taught that it is fair, balanced and reflective to swallow this troubling feeling, and accept that any sense leading towards suspicion is in poor taste.

Outlawing suspicion is part of this general meta morality people learn so well in the USA: conspiracy theorists are crazy. Working hard, and taking no vacations is good, while believing that some people out there, important people, are conspiring, in very important conspiracies, sometimes, is crazy.

Can goodness come, when one cannot let one’s mind be suspicious? Can goodness come when one makes it a moral duty to believe whoever has an obvious interest to say whatever they say? Can goodness come when exposing some for the crooks, thieves, criminals and charlatans they may well be definitively something reflective people are not supposed to do?

And yet, is not goodness what the Olympic Games should show, and celebrate, before anything else?

***

Patrice Ayme