Sports Outside the Beltway

We are not amused- Queen’s racehorse fails doping test after debut

This royal scandal wasn’t predicted by many palace watchers.

One of Queen Elizabeth II’s racehorses has failed a doping test.

Six-year-old Moonlit Path tested positive for a banned substance that prevents hemorrhaging after a sixth-place finish in her debut February at Huntingdon.

Trainer Nicky Henderson has been charged with breaching two rules by the British Horseracing Authority.

The queen’s racing manager, Michael Oswald, described it as “very disappointing news” and told British media that the monarch had been informed.

The BHA said Henderson was responsible for the horse being given tranexamic acid “with the intention of affecting her racing performance or in the knowledge that her racing performance could be affected by such.”

A hearing is set to be held in June.

What will the punishment be for Henderson should the hearing find him guilty? Beheading? Sentenced to London Tower? Forced to watch Benny Hill for twenty-four hours straight?


Manny Ramirez suspended fifty games for using banned substance

Another high profile athlete snared by drug testing. From ESPN-

Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday, becoming the latest high-profile player ensnared in the sport’s drug scandals.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star said he did not take steroids and was prescribed medication by a doctor that contained a banned substance. The commissioner’s office didn’t announce the specific violation by the 36-year-old outfielder, who apologized to the Dodgers and fans for “this whole situation.”

“Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me,” Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players’ union.

“Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

The suspension began Thursday and barring any postponements Ramriez will be able to return to the Dodgers — who now have the best record in baseball — for the July 3 game at San Diego. Ramirez will lose almost $8 million of his $25 million salary.

The ‘I was prescribed the substance’ excuse explanation. It’s been used so often, I don’t buy it any more. If I was an athlete who was prescribed any medication and at some later time drug tested, I would make sure before hand that it wasn’t banned. Just speaking as having a long history of being a major medical patient, I don’t just take any medication from a doctor without knowing what it is, what it is used for, and what if any side effects come from using it.

The article also states-

Strength coaches around Major League Baseball have long preached to players that any substance they consider taking — whether it’s an over-the-counter supplement, or medication from a doctor — should be done in consultation with the union prior to ingesting it. Players also have access to a hotline, which was established in the wake of the Mitchell report, to ask questions.

In other words there was no reason Ramirez shouldn’t have known the substance was banned IF it was prescribed legally.

Because of stupidity, the Dodgers will have to replace the slugger who has 6 homeruns and was batting .348 for the season, with a AAA minor league player. Los Angeles Dodger fans have good reason to be angry with the slugger, whether he intentionally broke the MLB substance rules or not.


Officials blame mineral overdose in polo horse deaths

Local prosecutors say this isn’t a criminal matter. From AP-

Florida officials say a mineral overdose is the probable cause of death for 21 polo horses that fell ill as they prepared for a championship match earlier this month.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Tuesday the animals likely overdosed on selenium, a common mineral that can be toxic in high doses.

The horses from the Venezuelan-owned Lechuza Caracas team began collapsing as they were unloaded from trailers at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington. Some died at the scene, others hours later. All 21 horses were dead by the next day.

The toxicology results say the animals had “significantly increased selenium levels.”

How much significantly increased? Ten to twenty times the normal amount Dr. John Harvey a University of Florida veterinarian tells The Palm Beach Post.

Citing anonymous sources, an Argentine newspaper reported last week that the supplements included 5 milligrams per milliliter of selenium instead of 0.5 milligrams. Harvey said the horses’ blood and livers contained 10 to 20 times the normal amount of selenium.

The Florida Department of Agriculture declined to offer any details of the ongoing probe.

The poisioning of these horses had to take place over a period of time. A one-time dosage I think wouldn’t have caused those levels to occur.

The question that stumps Harvey is unlikely to be solved by the ongoing investigation into who is responsible for the bad batch of supplements that killed the polo ponies. His question is less complicated.

Why, he wondered Tuesday after the test results were announced, would anyone inject a benign but unnecessary supplement into healthy horses?

“I’m not sure why one needs a mixture like this,” Harvey said, referring to a generic version of Biodyl that became lethal when too much selenium was added. “I’m sitting here saying, ‘Why give them intravenous vitamins?’ I would recommend a good balanced diet.”

Humans usually out of ignorance give themselves drugs and vitamins they think are good for them, when they are of no benefit or even detrimental. Why should their behavior be any different when it comes to animals?


Pharmacy admits it incorrectly mixed supplement linked to deaths of 21 horses

The death of 21 polo ponies last weekend has been big news here in Palm Beach County. Why it happened is slowly coming forth. From the Palm Beach Post-

A top official of an Ocala-based pharmacy today admitted that it incorrectly mixed a medication that was given to 21 horses that mysteriously collapsed and died last weekend.

Jennifer Beckett, chief operations officer for Franck’s Pharmacy, said an internal investigation revealed that the strength of an ingredient in the medication was flawed. In a written statement, she did not name the medication or the ingredient involved.

“We will cooperate fully with the authorities as they continue their investigations,” she wrote. “Because of the ongoing investigations, we cannot discuss further details about this matter at this time.”

This pharmacy is in for a world of trouble. Not just for potential liability in the deaths of these animals.

In a letter to polo team veterinarian Dr. James Belden, an attorney representing the insurer of a company owned by Victor Vargas, says its investigation revealed that a generic compounded version of Biodyl was administered to 12 ponies prior to their deaths before a match at the International Polo Club Palm Beach on Sunday. It is unclear why the letter references only 12; 21 horses are believed to have received the supplement.

Attorney William Gericke wrote that Belden ordered the compound from Franck’s Pharmacy in Ocala.

“Since you ordered the Biodyl from Franck’s Pharmacy that was administered to the horses, I believe there may be a possibility that my client may look to you as a party who has some responsibility for the loss,” Gericke wrote.

Biodyl, a vitamin supplement that is banned in the United States, emerged as a possible culprit in the deaths when Lechuza Caracas’ team captain polo told an Argentine newspaper it was administered to the horses.

But the Lechuza Caracas team issued a statement today clarifying that Biodyl wasn’t used in the horses, but rather a generic version created by Franck’s Pharmacy.

The pharmacy was mixing drug not allowed in this country. Horse owners were administering it to the animals. Federal prosecutors are almost certain to get involved with this. The pharmacy and horse owners were dealing in a drug that is illegal in the United States and with drug laws like they are, I can’t see how some people won’t up doing serious jail time if the story reported above is true.


Former NFL RB Travis Henry will go to prison for cocaine distribution

What a waste. From AP-

Former NFL player Travis Henry has signed a plea deal with prosecutors in which he admits to a single cocaine conspiracy charge in exchange for two other charges being dropped.

Under a plea deal filed with the court Tuesday, the 30-year-old Henry will admit to conspiracy to possess at least 11 pounds of cocaine with intent to distribute the drug.

If U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull accepts the plea, Henry faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison, $4 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.

Henry and co-defendant James Mack, 29, of Bow Mar, Colo., were arrested in Denver in October, after authorities in Montana found six pounds of marijuana and about 6.6 pounds of cocaine that the pair allegedly supplied.

The government said Henry trafficked cocaine between Colorado and Montana and that one of his associates had delivered six pounds of cocaine to Billings on prior occasions.

In exchange for Henry’s guilty plea, prosecutors said they would drop two counts of cocaine distribution that each carried another 10-year minimum in prison.

Henry’s lawyer in Denver, Harvey Steinberg, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Mack also has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, although details have not been revealed. His sentencing is set for April 23.

As ten years is a mandatory minimum for the charge Henry signed a plea for, the sentencing seems like a set thing to me. Henry had a lucrative NFL contract and access to a college education when he played at the Univ. of Tennessee. He appears to have wasted all of what many people would have put to good use.


NY Rangers prospect took PEDs before his death

Chemical analysis of his blood shows Cherepanaov used performance enhancing drugs for at least several months before his death. From Reuters-

Alexei Cherepanov, who died after losing consciousness during a Russian Superleague game two months ago, had been taking banned substances, government investigators said on Monday.

The 19-year-old forward, one of Russia’s most talented young hockey players, was rushed to hospital after collapsing late in the third period of the game between Vanguard Omsk and Chekhov, a small town south of Moscow.

He never regained consciousness and later died.

The investigative unit of the Prosecutor-General’s office said on its Web site that Cherepanov was suffering from heart problems that should have ruled him out of competing in professional sports.

But it said a chemical analysis of his blood by forensic experts also showed he had taken banned performance-enhancing drugs for several months before his death.

If true, Alexei Cherepanov is just the latest young athlete(Remember Len Bias?) who destroyed his life in pursuit of sports fame. It is sad every time it happens.


12 Former Braves Named in Mitchell Report

A dozen former Atlanta Braves were among those named in yesterday’s Mitchell Report documenting the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

Former Braves All-Star outfielders David Justice and Gary Sheffield and pitchers Denny Neagle and John Rocker were among 12 ex-Braves players linked to steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report released Thursday.


Among former Braves named, three (Sheffield and pitchers Paul Byrd and Darren Holmes) were cited for incidents during their time with the Braves. Other ex-Braves named: pitchers Kent Mercker and Mike Stanton, catcher Todd Pratt, and infielders Matt Franco, Ken Caminiti and Wally Joyner.

Sheffield, Byrd and Rocker were cited for allegations from previous investigations, rather than new information.

Justice, a Brave from 1989 to 1996, was said to have purchased human growth hormone in 2000 from a former Mets clubhouse attendant, Kirk Radomski. The report said former Yankees strength coach Brian McNamee recalled Justice asking him about human growth hormone in 2000 or 2001, while McNamee and Justice were both with the Yankees. According to McNamee, Justice admitted he obtained HGH from Radomski. Justice, recently inducted into the Braves’ Hall of Fame, could not be reached for comment.

Radomski and McNamee were the sources for most of the new information in the report. Some players expressed concern over the report’s heavy reliance on statements from those individuals.

“Unless you have hard truth, you’re just taking the word of a clubhouse guy,” said Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta’s player representative. “If you have anything with substance, we want to know. We want to rid that [drugs] out of the game, but I think you have to have some evidence. You just can’t take someone’s word for it.”

I think that’s right.

The news coverage also is doing a poor job distinguishing between steroid use to build big muscles and the use of HGH to aid recovery from injury under a doctor’s care.

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Fernando Vina

Of all the criticisms leveled in the on-going baseball steroid scandal, the one receiving the least attention is the effect media blindness played in the unfolding of the scandal. As it happens, ESPN has in their employ a player named in the Mitchell Report. Fernando Vina had a fairly long major league career spanning 12 seasons.

Fernando Vina played several positions with five teams in Major League Baseball from 1993 until 2004, the Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Detroit Tigers. He played in the 1998 All-Star game and won two National League Golden Glove Awards as a second baseman. During the 2007 baseball season, he was a commentator for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.

While Radomski was working for the Mets as a clubhouse attendant in 1993, he met Vina, who was then in the Mets minor league system. Radomski stated that he sold anabolic steroids or human growth hormone to Vina six to eight times during 2000 to 2005. Radomski produced three checks from Vina. Radomski stated that these checks reflected a March 2003 purchase by Vina of human growth hormone, an April 2003 purchase by Vina of steroids, most likely Winstrol, and a July 2005 purchase by Vina of Deca-Durabolin.

ESPN suddenly has a dilemma. During the season, discussion of steroids and performance enhancing drugs occurred often. At no time did their analyst Vina step forward and acknowledge what is alleged in the Mitchell Report. This creates a credibility gap with the network mockingly referred to as the WWL (World Wide Leader in sports). Does ESPN sacrifice Vina to attempt to save some aspect of their credibility, or do they choose to stand by their guy?

Consider that even analysts have a responsibility in a news organization to the truth. That Vina was linked to this report demands both a reckoning on ESPN’s part, and some kind of statement from Vina as to the veracity of these claims. He can deny them, and without more evidence, that would be that,a he said, he said spat. But the reality of the accusation must be acknowledged.

My axe is ground against the media, who with their access to athletes knew more about this scandal than they let on. Some reporters have acknowledged that they could have and should have dug deeper to get to the story. But Vina’s case points out the difficulty that is faced in sports journalism.

Stories are gained by access to the clubhouse, to the athletes and to the support personnel. Write up something that puts a player in a bad light and a reporter might mind him or herself shut out. As a former player, the primary reason to appear on shows or in print is because of the forged contacts made as a player, contacts that give an advantage at understanding the inner workings of the game. Quite literally in this case, inside baseball.

Would Vina retain his value to ESPN if he with one of the reporters broke a story about that particular aspect of the Mitchell Report? Clearly the answer is yes. That’s investigative journalism. And the Ennuipundit loves himself some good old fashioned well-researched tasty investigative journalism. But it would be a Pyrrhic victory, as the access to the players that Vina had would be compromised by the exposure of the misdeeds of his former teammates.

In the modern era of reporting, which is little more than the dutiful recitation of carefully worded press releases crafted by agents and publicists and fed to a media, nominally devoted to truth, but profitted from running a well-oiled hype machine, such exposes are becoming frustratingly rare.

ESPN’s credibility is compromised by Vina’s continued presence as an in studio analyst, precisely because he has access to players, which is used selectively not in the furtherance of truth, but rather to promote an agenda. ESPN, the WWL, profits from the broadcast of major league baseball games. They have a vested interest in being able to provide that coverage with the dugout interviews and other nonsense, which in all frankness, detracts from the experience of watching a game. To lose that access would damage their bottom line. And so the stories go untold. The truth about whether a game is clean or not is obscured.

No one believes that the inane ramblings of the “announcers” at WWE wrestling events have any connection with truth. They are employees of the WWE and are compensated solely and wholly to say what Mr. McMahon wants them to say. Adherence to the bottom line has taken such a priority over pursuit of truth in sports coverage, that much of what is passed off as sports information is unwatchable. Do the suits at ESPN have more sway than the journalists when deciding stories? The answer sadly seems to be yes.


IOC strips Marion Jones of 5 medals

The disgraced Gold Medal winner confessed two months ago to taking steroids prior to the 2000 Olympics. From AP-

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The IOC formally stripped Marion Jones of her five Olympic medals Wednesday, wiping her name from the record books following her admission that she was a drug cheat.

The International Olympic Committee also banned the disgraced American athlete from attending next year’s Beijing Olympics in any capacity and said it could bar her from all future games.

Jones had already handed back the three gold medals and two bronze she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations erased all of Jones’ results dating to September 2000, but it was up to the IOC to formally disqualify her and erase her Olympic medals.

The decision was announced by IOC president Jacques Rogge at the end of a three-day executive board meeting.

Jones won gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600-meter relay in Sydney, and bronze in the long jump and 100-meter relay. She was the first female track and field athlete to win five medals at a single Olympics.


The IOC postponed a decision on redistributing her medals, including whether to strip her American relay teammates and whether to upgrade doping-tainted Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou to gold in the 100.

The IOC’s move comes as no surprise. One thing I find intersiting is Jones not being to be at any future Olympics. Can she still attend the games as a spectator or does it just forbid her from associating with athletes?

Also the IOC postponed any decision to take away Jones’ relay teammates medals. I don’t see how they can take Jones while not taking the others. This sounds unfair to the gold medalists, but the IOC can’t just go half way in my opinion.


Former MLB player David Segui admits to steroid use

I wonder if any other retired players will come forward with the Mitchell report out due soon. From AP-

BALTIMORE – Retired first baseman David Segui admitted Monday that he used steroids and purchased shipments from former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, The Sun reported on its Web site Monday night.

Segui also repeated his June 2006 admission to ESPN that he used human growth hormone with a prescription.

He told the newspaper that he refused to talk to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, whose report on performance-enhancing drugs is expected soon. Segui said he didn’t want to betray the trust of other players.


Radomski pleaded guilty in April to federal charges of illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs. As part of his agreement with the government, he was required to cooperate with Mitchell’s investigation.

Segui said he met Radomski after being traded to the Mets in 1994. They became close and still talk by phone several times a week — usually about fishing and family.

I remember Segui from my Star Tournament days. A slick fielding 1st baseman who didn’t have the power most players at that position possessed. A check of Segui’s career stats confirms it, his career high was 21 homers in 1997.

So all that HGH and steroid taking didn’t produce much for Segui. One day when feeling ill for some unknown reason, will he make a link to his foolish drug use years earlier? He was dumb to the stuff, one assumes his intelligence hasn’t all that much since his retirement.


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