Usada strike blow against 90-year-old dop­ers ev­ery­where

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports - Malachy Clerkin

‘Jan­uary 4th, 2019: Usada an­nounced to­day that Carl Grove, of Bris­tol, In­di­ana, an ath­lete in the sport of cy­cling, has ac­cepted a pub­lic warn­ing for his anti-dop­ing rule vi­o­la­tions.

“Grove, 90, tested pos­i­tive for epitren­bolone, which is a me­tab­o­lite of the pro­hib­ited sub­stance tren­bolone, as the re­sult of an in-com­pe­ti­tion urine sam­ple he pro­vided on July 11th, 2018 af­ter set­ting a world record at the Masters Track Na­tional Cham­pi­onships. While in­ves­ti­gat­ing the source of his pos­i­tive test, it was also de­ter­mined that a sup­ple­ment Grove was us­ing prior to July 11th, 2018 was con­tam­i­nated with clomiphene.

“Dur­ing Usada’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cir­cum­stances of his case, Grove pro­vided the agency with in­for­ma­tion which es­tab­lished that the source of his pos­i­tive test was more likely than not caused by con­tam­i­nated meat con­sumed the evening be­fore com­pet­ing on July 11th, 2018.

“Prior to con­sum­ing the meat, Grove had tested neg­a­tive for pro­hib­ited sub­stances dur­ing an in-com­pe­ti­tion test on July 10th, 2018.”

(Of­fi­cial state­ment from the United States Anti-Dop­ing Agency, re­leased last Fri­day)

New Year, old story. What a joy to be­gin 2019 with the news that Usada, the one-hit won­ders still chas­ing a fol­low-up to their 2012 chart-top­ping ef­fort with Lance Arm­strong, have snapped on the rub­ber gloves for real this time and set about clean­ing up the cesspool of nona­ge­nar­ian dop­ing in sport. Not a minute too soon, ei­ther.

Af­ter all, if lovers of sport sus­pect one thing above all oth­ers about 90-year-olds, it’s that they’re a bunch of cheat­ing bas­tards who are out to ruin sport for the younger gen­er­a­tion. And if that means there are some 88-year-old track cy­clists out there who pick up the pa­per this Mon­day morn­ing and find their in­no­cence thieved for­ever at the news that Grove has been popped, well so be it. It’s never to early to learn the ugly truth about sport.

Let the word go out. All you chancers in your 90s, all you rot­ten cheats, Usada wants you to hear this as loud and as clear as your de­vices will per­mit. A hard rain is gonna fall your way, kids. This is your Ben John­son mo­ment. Of course, you were al­ready grand­par­ents when the orig­i­nal Ben John­son mo­ment hap­pened. Maybe some­thing stirred in you then, back at the end of the 1980s. You were close to re­tire­ment, your kids were out of col­lege and mar­ried off, you felt a void. You saw some of your friends play golf, you saw oth­ers have af­fairs. Not you. You wanted the good stuff. You took up the juice.

Smoked out

Or maybe, like all dop­ers who are even­tu­ally smoked out by Usada (cor­po­rate motto: Crack­ing Heads, Crack­ing Hips), you’re adamant you’ve only done it once. Hey, you’re 90, you’re on 16 dif­fer­ent pills a day. What do they want – a TUE for ev­ery last one of them? Well, frankly, yes. That’s ex­actly what they want. Oth­er­wise, how are we to keep sport clean for peo­ple born in the 1920s? Big props to Usada, by the by. You re­ally have to hand it to them. For seven full years, they’ve bided their time and not done any­thing rash or, God for­bid, news­wor­thy. Lance was a big­gie, no doubt about it. And when it hap­pened, we all pre­sumed that if they could take down the most fa­mous doper in sport, then surely no­body was safe. So we waited to see who would be next.

Some big noise in the NFL? Nah, too ob­vi­ous. Maybe one of those thick-armed slug­gers in Ma­jor League base­ball? Nah, been done al­ready back in the early 2000s. What about ten­nis? Hey, don’t even go there – Ser­ena Williams hid in her panic room and the cops were called one time when the testers ar­rived.

No, Usada are no fools. They know the story with sport. The real story. Sure, all those quote-unquote ma­jor stars would make for juicy head­lines if they got popped, but what dif­fer­ence would it make? NFL play­ers fail tests all the time – they miss a few games and then they’re wel­comed back like he­roes. The big sports are all but im­per­vi­ous to anti-dop­ing now.

But the 90-94 age group in track cy­cling? Now, that’s where an en­ter­pris­ing anti-dop­ing agent can re­ally get ahead. On the fate­ful day they took Carl Grove down last sum­mer, he was com­pet­ing in a field of one. There was no­body else in his cat­e­gory. So in ef­fect, Usada were able to elim­i­nate 100 per cent of the prob­lem in one fell swoop. Not a bad day’s work, fel­las. It’s tough on Grove, of course. He’s got to be ask­ing him­self just why he was the only one who turned up for the 90-94 men’s in­di­vid­ual pur­suit that day. Some­thing doesn’t taste right about that, let’s be hon­est. Where was the op­po­si­tion? Had word got out that the feds were in town?

Whacked

Maybe it was like when Joe Pesci’s char­ac­ter Tommy gets whacked in Good­fel­las. He turns up to the meet­ing place think­ing he’s about to be­come a made guy and as soon as he walks in and finds the room empty, he knows it’s over. Was it like that for Grove the day Usada brought the heat and he turned out to be the only one in the kitchen? We may never know. Al­though cer­tainly it’s one for Oprah to ask him when the time comes.

For now, Grove has taken his warn­ing on the chin and, judg­ing by Usada’s state­ment, has been lucky to avoid a ban. Sea­soned doper-watch­ers will have noted that he went with the Al­berto Con­ta­dor gam­bit of blam­ing con­tam­i­nated meat for the failed test. Sadly, he didn’t plump for the Den­nis Mitchell ex­pla­na­tion – he tested pos­i­tive for testos­terone in 1998 and blamed it on hav­ing sex with his wife four times in one day. “Hey, it was her birth­day, the lady de­served a treat,” was Mitchell’s of­fer­ing. Ah, the good old days.

For Grove, the fu­ture is un­clear. He is free to keep com­pet­ing, but you have to won­der what sort of re­cep­tion he’ll get upon his re­turn. So far, he has kept his nose clean and his mouth shut, so if his­tory is any sort of judge, cy­cling will wel­come him back with open arms. But what if he talks? Pre­sum­ably, Usada will try to flip him now. Go af­ter the big fish. Hey Carl, we know you’re just a patsy for the real cheats. C’mon, Carl, tell us ev­ery­thing. Tell us all about those 95-99 cat­e­gory scum­bags. Carl Grove could blow the whole rot­ten thing to smithereens.

Let the word go out. All you chancers in your 90s, all you rot­ten cheats, Usada wants you to hear this as loud and clear as your de­vices will per­mit. A hard rain is gonna fall your way

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