Saturday, May 26, 2007

When The Walls

From the Floyd Landis case, to Bjarne Riis' press conference, and all that fell in between, I couldn't help but have Mellencamp running through my head this week, as any number of walls came tumblin', tumblin'.

The walls of LNDD, as we left the sillier conspiracy theories behind and got some concrete evidence on the startling incompetence and inexperience of those who would decide the fate of world-class athletes. Even if they believe they got the right guy, and even if they won't clean up for the sake of the athletes, maybe they will yet clean up, if only to avoid having their incompetence be such a credible defense for those accused in the future. (And, as an added bonus, not so many will be accused!)

The walls of WADA, wherein everyone is expected to be a good citizen and toe the party line, damn the consequences, full speed ahead. Catlin's unabashed candor on this issue was intriguing to say the least.

The walls of Will Geoghegan's life. I'm afraid I don't have the open heart of Paul Landis, Will gets little sympathy from me for his horrendous act. But I wonder if he can ever recover mentally, so devastating was his blow to his longtime friend. The damage it did still leaves me dumbfounded; I imagine Will curled up in a ball somewhere for some time to come.

Floyd's got some pretty strong walls, we'll have to see how that one shakes out. Next week, as the intensity of the hearing wears off, will surely bring a flood of issues and emotions pushed away in the immediacy of the battle. Butch Reynolds' walls crumbled under similar circumstances and it was some time before he built them back up.

The walls of doping - these are falling so fast I hesitate to post, wondering what new confession will have missed the wire. Joe Papp's testimony in the Landis hearing was ridiculed by many as irrelevant to the case and a sacrifice of Mr. Papp to USADA's cause. Whatever the case may be on all that, it was still an important glimpse into current doping practices, and something we need to hear more of.

While we're on the subject of Papp, a few words about TBV and Bill Hue. It's been said ad nauseam, but I don't think it can be said enough - their work, especially during the hearing, was invaluable. I got cranky with Bill and his dancing monkey, as one does with a traveling companion after being together in a car for days on end. But it was a passing thing, on both sides, and what I am left with is overwhelming gratitude and awe for what both he and TBV did, and continue to do.

In one of those bizarre twists of fate, I found this on the inside cap to a bottle of iced tea I had recently:

"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good." - Joe Paterno

Some found Floyd's similar reasoning in his testimony to be trite, but it rang true to me. And I couldn't help but think of Joe Pa's sentiments in relation to USADA, who relied so heavily on The Call in their closing statement. Is that really how they want to win this case, would that really taste good? We have seen in recent days that some don't seem to much mind the taste, and felt it was the only dish on the menu. But for more on that, I'm going to have to make like Rant and do a two-fer today.


Anonymous said...

Julie, hope it's okay with you that I left a little comment at TBV just now to the effect that you are not a male. I know it must get tiresome to still be called "he" over there...


Ken ( said...

Julie, I like your analogy to crumbling walls, it seems very apt. With all the walls that have been crumbling, we can only hope that we can clear away the rubble and build a new anti-doping regime based on sound procedures, protocols, transparency and due process. Sports need to be cleaned up and dirty athletes thrown out, but not at the expense of falsely accusing the innocent. It is so hard to enjoy a sport and cheer for your favorite athlete when there is always a nagging concern that one's "hero" will be the next one to test positive.

Theresa said...

Julie, you are one smart cookie! You've got a great way of looking at things, and I love it! Zabel, Aldag,Riis, and Jan Ullich are all STILL my "heroes"! I just know for a fact that they are human beings!! And yes, I still can't forgive Will, for his stupid call; but the price he is paying, knowing what it has done to Floyd, is enough for him to bear. He doesn't need me condemning him also! And your analogies are right on!

Theresa said...

"Success without honor"....hmmm, maybe that's why Riis still had his yellow jersey in a box, and not hanging on the wall....

Julie said...

Ken - well said. I think, as in the "War on Drugs" in general, it's demand that has to be the target, but with so many riders at any given time, I don't know how you keep them all under control. Reverse peer pressure might be the only way. I see you're a fellow Maine-ah, woohoo! (I'm a transplant as well.)

Ken ( said...

Yes Julie, I am a Maine-iac (maniac). I transplanted here from Alaska around seven years ago.

I think the way to reduce demand is to help build confidence that others aren't doing it. This can only be done by catching those who are, but this can't be done at the expense of accusing the innocent. Rant has a really good post on this, which I thought was deserving of an opt-ed slot in the New York Times.