Tour de Disappointment
The Tour de France was rocked by another doping scandal when RadioShack rider Frank Schleck, brother of Andy, departed from the race on Tuesday after a failing a doping test.
Schleck placed third overall in last year’s race and his older brother Andy Schleck – who is not racing this year – won the Tour two years ago.
The doping test took place after the 13th stage on July 14 when a banned diuretic Xipamide was found in Schleck’s urine. The RadioShack-Nissan rider was pulled from the Tour by his team on Tuesday, but categorically denied taking any banned substances.
Diuretics can be used to help riders lose weight to aid them perform better in the tough mountain stages of the race.
They can, however, also be used to conceal the presence of a banned drug by flushing it through body through increased urination.
Rumbling on in the background as well, are the continuing allegations against retired cyclist Lance Armstrong. The US Anti-Doping Agency filed former charges against the seven-time Tour winner last month, accusing him of using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. Armstrong has always strenuously denied doping and a two-year federal investigation found no criminal charges against the Texan.
If found guilty, Armstrong could be stripped of his Tour titles he won from 1999-2005.
It is a tragedy that doping scandals such as these taint what is one of the most thrilling events on the sporting calendar, especially in a year when the tour is generally considered to be cleaner than ever, and there is no suspicion around this year’s yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins, and last year’s winner Cadel Evans.
Fancy an ice-cream?
It took just 140 characters from Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand to plunge himself into the racism debate in English football this week.
Just one week after a London court acquitted Chelsea captain John Terry of racism, British police opened an investigation into an alleged racist tweet against fellow Chelsea teammate Ashley Cole, who gave evidence at Terry’s trial.
Former England captain Terry was accused of abusing Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton during a Premier League match between Chelsea and QPR. Ashley Cole was summoned as a witness in the case.
Cole was labelled a ‘choc-ice’ by a Twitter user. The user posted a message to Rio Ferdinand shortly after the conclusion of the court case: “Looks like Ashley Cole’s going to be their choc ice,” said the tweet.
“Then again he’s always been a sell out. Shame on him.”
Ferdinand replied: “I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!”
The term ‘choc-ice’ has racial connotations meaning a person is ‘black on the outside’ and ‘white on the inside’. Ferdinand quickly deleted the post claiming the term was ‘slang’ for someone who was acting ‘fake’. But the damage had been done.
It was as if Ferdinand thought he was having a private conversation on twitter.
His casual comments have done nothing but reinforce the need for a debate into murky world of on-field and off-field ‘banter’. Is it time for a zero tolerance approach to offensive language?
The English Football Association cannot bury their heads in the sand any more and must tackle these incidents head-on.
Ensuring an Olympic legacy
‘A generation inspired’ is the London 2012 Olympic motto.
With less than a week to go before the Games, East London’s multi-billion dollar regeneration programme has produced some of the finest sporting facilities in the world. The next two weeks will showcase not only the world’s best athletes, but also a city that has gone an expensive facelift.
London organisers have heavily promoted the legacy of the Games – both the physical legacy of the Olympic Park but also a sporting legacy for encouraging youth participation in sport.
However, as Al Jazeera’s Lee Wellings reported this week the UK government cuts to a scheme called the ‘school sports partnership’ has threatened access to sport for some children in the shadow of the Olympic stadium, including those from the London borough of Tower Hamlets which has one of the the highest levels of child poverty in the country.
A ‘successful’ Olympics must be measured not just by revenue raised and records broken but as a long-lasting legacy to its citizens, in particular its youth.
If anyone is in need of an Olympic legacy, it is the children of the poor suburbs of East London.