Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stockcars on Dope

Bicycle racing and NASCAR have more in common than the fact that both depend on their success for the wheel. Both are infected by the doping bug. Everyone knows that the sport that some might consider a touch effete has had a long history of doping. Learning that it also infected NASCAR came as something of a surprise.

Descriptions of bicycle races are almost always accompanied by news of the drug tests that accompany them. On February 17, 2007, for example, a New York Times description of the Tour of California explained that the tour’s sponsors had been proud of the fact that none of the riders in the 2006 event had tested positive for banned substances. To the sponsors’ embarrassment it turned out none of the riders had been tested for Erithropoietin (EPO) that gives the body extra oxygen carrying capacity, an oversight that was corrected in 2007.

Prior to the 2006 tour de France two of the top favorites were not permitted to race because of allegations they’d been involved in a Spanish doping ring. Their removal before the race proved to be nothing more than a preview of the main event that was the announcement of the results of Floyd Landis’s urine tests.

Mr. Landis had made one of the most spectacular recoveries in the history of the sport. At the conclusion of the final climb of the 16th stage of the 20-stage race, Mr. Landis was 8 minutes behind the leader, a deficit considered to be insurmountable. It was not. The next day he made a brilliant recovery that was described as one of the greatest performances in the history of the event. That recovery, combined with additional time made up in the final time trial enabled him to ride into Paris the winner of the 2006 Tour de France. Then a bad thing happened.

Mr. Landis’s urine sample produced an “adverse analytical finding.” Instead of a normal ratio of 4-to-1 of testerone to epitestosterone, his ratio was 11-to-1. Two reports suggested the testosterone did not come from natural sources. A hearing on May 14 before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will determine whether or not he is guilty of doping.

The news of Valentine’s Day was that bicycle racing is not the only form of racing involving the wheel that is plagued by doping. So is one of George Bush’s favorite sports, NASCAR racing. (Pictures on the White House webpage show a beaming president standing in the middle of the 2005 Nextel Cup Champion team and their car taken on Jan. 24, 2006. Another picture on the same site taken February 7, 2007, shows Mr. Bush in the Oval Office with the 2006 Nextel Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson.)

On February 14 it was disclosed that doping had become part of the NASCAR scene. The car doing the doping was a Toyota making its NASCAR debut. It was driven by Michael Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. Cars, of course, are different from humans and have different parts from humans. Nonetheless, probing their insides can produce the same kinds of surprising results obtained from urine samples taken from humans. In this case the incriminating sample came from a car’s manifold.

In a pre-race inspection a NASCAR official reached his hand into the Toyota manifold, the part of the engine that supplies the fuel/air mix to the cylinders. He was looking for loose parts. Instead he encountered an illegal substance he said he had never before encountered. The substance, it turned out, was similar to but not the same as, EPO. It was a jet-fuel like substance described as an oxygenate that would boost the octane in the fuel and make the engine run better at higher horsepower.

Mr. Landis and Mr. Waltrip reacted similarly to news of the presence of banned substances in their respective machines. Mr. Landis insisted his testosterone was his own and not an additive. Mr. Waltrip acknowledged it was an additive but has no idea how it got into the manifold.

When illegal substances are found in bike racers they are banned from the race or stripped of the title, as appropriate. NASCAR did not ban Mr. Waltrip from the race but kicked Mr. Waltrip’s crew chief and team director out of the race for cheating and suspended them indefinitely from future NASCAR events. The crew chief was also fined $100,000. Commenting on the episode Mr. Waltrip said, “This was an independent act done without consent or authorization from me or any of my executive management team.” He was, of course excluding his crew chief from that description.

There is a heartwarming side to this tale. Even though geographically and politically NASCAR fans and bicycle racing fans are far apart, doping serves to bring us all closer together.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. Visit his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail