Blog Archives

The shocking pharmacology of Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez was a walking, talking, high-volume experiment regarding PEDs anti-aging medications:

… documents released by the [Miami] New Times connect Rodriguez to at least 19 drugs and supplements, including the banned substances testosterone, HGH and IGF-1, and define one doping regimen that includes as many 19 injections: four subcutaneous injections of IGF-1, nine shots of CJC (a growth hormone releasing hormone) and GHRP (growth hormone releasing peptide), and six shots of HGH at 2.5 international units.

The lesson seems to be if you want a better athlete, you’d better bring better medicines. And lots of them. (And don’t forget the sterile wipes and band-aids.) Now, if they could only come up with a shot instead of having hip surgery (or hip surgeries).

It almost makes us lose sight of Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun.

Almost.

Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and PEDs

woodsNow that Lance Armstrong has confessed to what we’ve all known for some time, I’m ready for the next round of PED revelations. Such revelations could come from outside cycling and from sports requiring (merely) endurance, pain-tolerance, and anaerobic power, and might even include sports where mental focus can be pharmaceutically enhanced.

Like golf… maybe.

Back when Tiger Woods went through his sex-addict imbroglio, it was revealed he was using Ambien (and was said to have crashed his vehicle in an Ambien-induced stupor). Then, there’s also this:

Rachel Uchitel, 34, told friends that she and Woods took the sleeping pill Ambien before having sex, according to a U.S. website.

‘You know you have crazier sex on Ambien – you get into that Ambien haze,’ she is quoted as saying. ‘We have crazy Ambien sex.’

Beyond Ambien, there’s this (rhetorically offered from a Woods-PED naysayer):

His [Woods’s] association with Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea, who was indicted last October on federal charges of smuggling human growth hormone and other illegal substances into the U.S. and lying to border patrol agents … his waxed and buffed physique … his cluster of injuries … his well-documented marital infidelity. You have to work at it, but you can connect the dots.

Beyond all these things, what if Woods could get a drug which increased his focus like Adderall and/or Ritalin? Is that considered an illegal PED? (And complicating things more, what if he had a prescription? After all, if Woods has access to Ambien—we’ll assume it’s via a legal prescription—is an Adderall and/or Ritalin prescription somehow out of the question?)

However, if Woods is guilty of PED use, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know. His circle of courtiers is smaller and tighter than even Lance Armstrong’s and there’s no team in golf as there is in cycling. That and the fact Woods’s best days as a sports celebrity and golfer—drug enhanced or not—are far behind him mean it’s unlikely any PED use will ever come to light.

But it is an interesting topic.

Nike Announces Their Post-USADA Armstrong Changes

(Beaverton, Oregon, PMNS)

live wrongFollowing the United States Anti-Doping Association’s devastating proof of Lance Armstrong’s performance enhancing drug use across his cycling career, Nike, a firm notoriously loyal to their herds of hired athletes, has announced it will stand-down its support for Mr. Armstrong’s Live Strong foundation.

However, Nike founder Phil Knight has said the shoe giant will instead front a new Armstrong foundation tentatively called Live Wrong. “The days of Live Strong have come and gone. It’s time for a more realistic and traditional approach, something we feel there’s there’s already a market for and a built in audience.” Live Wrong will be incorporated in the Grand Cayman Islands which has less restrictive medical and banking laws than the United States, but Knight said the foundation would still “be global in nature.”

Live Wrong will advocate a non-traditional and somewhat controversial view of winning at all costs. The foundation will provide medical referrals, match drug using athletes to drug endorsing coaches, sell performance enhancing drugs, experiment with gene therapy, help launder money, and provide lawyers. The Live Wrong slogan is said to be “If you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’ hard enough.” Two other slogans, “Dope or go home,” and “Get rich or die tryin’,” were rejected due to copyright concerns.

Live Wrong’s announced board of directors will include Victor Conte, Mark McGwire, Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Ben Johnson, Mr. Armstrong himself, and the late Florence Griffith-Joyner. Several honorary board positions will be manned by the East German women’s track team.

(Philup Nubia and Zerxes Jones-Smith from PMNS’s Mumbai Information, Research, and Translation Service enclave contributed to this article.)

Weeping and gnashing of teeth: Lance Armstrong’s fans and sponsors

Given the USADA data dump of their case against disgraced former cycling champion Lance Armstrong, how long is it before he gets this phone call?

Caller: Lance, this is Phil Knight. We’ve, uh, well, this is a little uncomfortable, but we’ve decided to put a lien on your estate for $127 million as it seems you may have violated the terms of your contract. Have your people get in touch with our people. Cheers.

Click.

Then will come the similar calls from Radio Shack, USPS, Motorola, Anheuser-Busch, Trek, Oakley, et al.

Advice for all of us: don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Advice for Lance: remember the strategy of beloved ex-president William Jefferson Clinton–settle, settle, settle.

How the President learned he lost the debate

It appears Barack Obama learned he lost the presidential debate with Mitt Romney because someone told him. His lackadaisical and stumbling performance likely has David Axelrod out looking for a new Presidential Pharmacologist, one who can provide Mr. Obama—like Lance Armstrong—with the energy the campaign clearly needs and the ADHD-fighting meds required for 90 minutes bouts of presidential-level focus and concentration. (Hey, it worked for Kennedy, right?) Desperate acts for desperate campaigns and all that.

In lieu of a miracle of meds, the Obama campaign will be stuck with their naked attempts to demonize the challenger, a strategy that struggles to reconcile itself with the fact Mr. Romney showed 70 million Americans he is a rational and thoughtful human being. This all comes at a very awkward time for Mr. Obama as his Administration’s substantive failings, long masked by their army of media eunuchs, seems to have burned through even the cloud of journalistic adoration that’s enveloped and protected him for the last four-plus years. While Mr. Obama has accused Mr. Romney of “salesmanship,” Mr. Romney could rightly accuse Mr. Obama of “failsmanship.”

The proof of Mr. Obama’s presidential inadequacy, as they say, is in the pudding. And this holds true even when the pudding’s been cooked—intentionally or not—beyond all recognition, as it has been with the unemployment numbers or with a fourth consecutive year of trillion dollar deficits.

As Joe Biden might honestly say—thus mangling his own talking points—“Al Qaida is growing, Benghazi is burning, General Motors is dying, Justice Department programs are killing Border Patrol agents, household income is down, poverty is up, Obamaphones are in, and the debt will be crushing,” while under the aegis of Mr. Obama’s domestic and foreign policy leadership.

And to most Americans, as Joe knows, it’s a pretty big deal.

Why Lance Armstrong Went No Mas

lanceWhy did Lance Armstrong pull a no mas on fighting the accusations he doped? It was probably due to the overwhelming evidence the USADA had. From Sports Illustrated:

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says 11 of Lance Armstrong’s former teammates testified against him in its investigation of the cyclist, revealing “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Lance told us it wasn’t about the bike. Clearly that’s true: it was about the drugs.

He [USADA CEO Travis Tygart] said evidence from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the U.S. Postal Service Team’s doping activities, provided testimony for the report. It was with the USPS team that Armstrong won all but one of his Tour titles from 1999-2005.

The lesson: be careful who you pick as your gods.

On a related note, the ESPN Films 30 for 30: 9.79* Advertisementwas a fantastic watch. Are there track and cycling studs that don’t dope?

And track and cycling are sports that tested, even back in the day. So how about sports that didn’t test for years, such as MLB? The results are pretty self-evident.

The icon and the iconoclast

the secret raceBarry Bonds was an icon. Mark McGwire was an icon. Roger Clemens was an icon. And yes, Lance Armstrong was an icon.

But regarding Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton is an iconoclast.

And there is an apparent lesson that Harvard can teach us: if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough. With Harvard, it would appear the most difficult part is getting in and the next-most difficult part is not getting caught.

I think we may need to more fully ponder the distinctions between live strong and live well.

Arbitrary Arbitration

bulgeA few months ago, reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun avoided a 50-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.

The problem?

The suspension was overturned in arbitration without a legitimate reason. Braun didn’t even attempt to say he was innocent; he instead worked to cast dispersions of the process, which in his case, appeared to be air-tight.

Now the arbitrary arbitrator has been released to spend more time with his family.

There’s this saying that’s often referred to: the integrity of the game.

When the integrity of the game is fixed in favor of the player’s union, there is no integrity. And we’re left with arbitrary reasoning.

Remember, the Marty Feldman-like eyes can be an early sign of PED use.

Dumb Ryan Braun Paragraph of the Day

bulgeThere is much to agree with in the Jon Paul Morosi (yes, that appears to be his real name and is not the name of a series of hair care products) assessment at Fox Sports on the Ryan Braun debacle.

The crux of the article is that Ryan Braun should have pled his case without personalizing it, take the favorable arbitration ruling, and shut up. However there’s this one grievous error that caused me to choke on my green tea soy latte (emphasis added):

Braun made a point of closing his Friday statement by saying that he’s considering his legal options. Why would he need to do that? He won. He [sic] side was proved right by the arbitrator. Does Braun need to text Matt Kemp a photo of the MVP trophy to prove that he won it?

No Jon Paul, his side wasn’t proved right; his side received a favorable ruling. That is not the same as “proven right” or ruled “not-guilty.” There is a difference between being acquitted and “proved innocent.”

Arbitrators Unflunk Braun’s Failed PED Test

Performance enhancing drugs are out there. Rules regarding these PEDs are out there as well, to include testing and protocols for such tests. When the rules are in dispute in Major League Baseball, they are governed by a three-person arbitration team.

By a 2-1 ruling, reining NL MVP Ryan Braun’s failed PED test has been overturned, meaning he will thus avoid a 50-game suspension. What happened?

How did two tests produce results that revealed Braun had an absurdly high level of testosterone in his system? What is wrong with the testing process that something like this could happen (ESPN reports a courier is to blame)? Have other players been falsely identified as cheats?

What’s wrong with the tests? Nothing (read on). But none-the-less, the arbitrators, without explanation, have overturned Braun’s failed PED test, citing as ESPN said on television, ‘chain of command’ issues.

I think ESPN meant chain of custody issues. But we’ll never know for sure. (Begin sarcasm font) Those urine couriers and custodians have been known to introduce absurdly high testosterone levels on many an occasion. (Close sarcasm font).

A very clear explanation from Sports Illustrated (emphasis added):

According to sources with knowledge of the two-day arbitration hearing in January, at least part of Braun’s defense hinged on his sample having been collected on a Saturday afternoon — Oct. 1, after the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NLDS — but not in time for the doping control officer to get it to FedEx that day. The sample was not delivered to FedEx for shipping to a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Montreal until the following Monday afternoon. The Joint Drug Agreement between the league and players’ association specifies, “Absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected.”

It is not uncommon for doping control officers in a wide array of sports to hold onto a sample — often in a refrigerator — if shipping is not immediately available, and while details of the chain of custody of Braun’s sample were not immediately available, a source with knowledge of the sample [someone from MLB and/or the lab?] said that the seals on the sample were unbroken when it arrived at the lab, and that standard lab tests on the sample showed that it had not degraded. In December, SI.com confirmed that Braun’s sample was found to have an elevated level of testosterone, and that it tested positive for synthetic testosterone.

A source familiar with the situation [Braun’s defense team and/or the players’ union?] said the evidence in defense of Braun highlighted several unusual circumstances: that the sample was not taken to FedEx for shipping until two days after it was collected; that his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was three times higher than any result in the history of baseball’s program; that Braun showed no physical side effects of use; and that, in the time this news was public, no one came forward to offer evidence or raise any further speculation of Braun’s alleged use.

A separate source familiar with Braun’s sample [someone from the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Montreal?] said that his elevated testosterone ratio was not unusual when compared to athletes from other sports who have failed drug tests and served suspensions.

“Around the world, on Sundays or holidays, couriers don’t pick up and they don’t deliver,” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which drug tests American athletes in Olympic sports. “Some of the labs around the world are closed over the weekend, so they can’t even accept samples. And, importantly, they don’t need to because synthetic drugs don’t magically appear in urine because it took 48 hours versus 20 minutes to get to the laboratory.”

I would never expect the anti-doping agencies nor MLB to ever bring a failed PED test forward unless they had supreme confidence in their procedures, to include the chain of custody. It would appear (at this point) that Braun’s failed test was DQ’d on a technicality. (A technicality being, for example, if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit).

New Human Growth Hormone Side Effect Identified

A new side effect of human growth hormone has now been identified by medical authorities at the Calcutta Institute for Pharmaceutical Enhancement: ballooning eyeball syndrome.

bulgeIn other unrelated news, reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun continues in his battle to avoid a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s performance-enhancing drug standards.

Braun’s agent, Marty Feldman, said, “Ryan looks forward to his compete exoneration regarding these ridiculous allegations and is eagerly eying the upcoming 2012 season, which he views may well be his best ever.” As far as Braun’s protestation of innocence, Feldman added, “We and MLB aren’t really seeing eye-to-eye on this, but hopefully well have a shared vision very soon. Remember, there’s no ‘i’ in team, but there is one in ‘win’.”