Wednesday, February 13, 2008

UK Athletics running scared

UK athletics has got itself into a fine mess. It has created a situation in which they've had to select Dwain Chambers, a self-confessed drug cheat to run for the British team while publicly condemning their own decision. What a bizarre cock-up this is. Dwaine Chambers admitted to taking THG, the drug at the centre of the Balco drugs scandal, and was banned for just 2 years in 2004. Because hed supposedly 'retired' from official training to play American Football, he was not tested at all in 2007. And now he's returned, won the official selection race, and has been chosen to represent Britain - because he'd have sued UK Athletics if they hadn't picked him. UK Athletics have made themselves the laughing stock of the athletics world.

Firstly, Dwain Chambers should have been banned for far longer than 2 years, which is no more than what 'clean' athletes might suffer as the result of a serious injury. And it is outrageous that he wasn't tested at all in 2007. We know that the main benefit derived from using drugs is that it enables greater intensity in training, rather than in the race season itself. He could have been injecting and snorting up until Xmas, like a pig on growth promoters, for all we know. And now he's picked to run for the UK.

I used to love watching athletics on TV. I've been to events to spectate. Now I cannot be bothered to turn the TV on. And I won't be bothered until the rules are changed to bar convicted drug cheats from the sport. And we all know what will happen now that Mr Chambers has become mired in scandal. He'll be paid a fortune to appear in a reality TV programme, or appear on QuestionTime if he can string two words together. Grrrrrrr is about all I can think of to say.


johnny foreigner said...

Sounds like a touch of the old double standards here, Glyn.

Whilst you enjoy your freedom to criticise Dwain Chambers for undertaking his work, whilst taking the drug of his choice, are you saying that you have never undertaken Assembly duties having consumed YOUR drug of choice?

In fact your recent posting regarding your abortive four hour drive to and from Aberaeron describes how you drank wine prior to your homeward journey.

Do you normally drink and drive Glyn?

Even one glass of wine, irrespective of its volume, will certainly have a detrimental effect on your driving, despite your probable contrary opinion. If you were so desperate for an alcoholic drink, surely you could have waited another two hours until you got home.

Are you so mired in the Welsh drug and booze culture that you find it difficult to resist its evil entreaties?

Your pal.


Glyn Davies said...

Johnny - I usually see a solid basis for your comments, even when I disagree with them - but not this one.

Drinking alcohol is entirely legal as is drinking a glass of wine before driving. Though I do concede that this is not approved of by some. As a general practise none of my children will drink even one glass if they are driving.
Drinking is a funny activity which has little to do with thirst. If I have an hour to waste, I will have a coffee (in the daytime) even though I'm not thirsty, or a glass of wine (in the evening). This is all entirely legal. If it wasn't I wouldn't do it.

And as far as I know, Dwain Chambers was within the law when taking the performance enhancing drugs that he took. My point was that he was cheating the athletes against whom he was competing - and may still be doing so. We do not know because he wasn't tested at all during 2007. I and many others do not want to watch a competition involving the relative performance enhancing abilities of differing drugs - we want to watch competitors compete on a level playing field.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

The tag line "will always have a detrimental impact" is not always true. A certain small amount of the stuff can, in some stressful circumstances, actually improve performance. I remember being driven by someone (as I did not have a car and couldn't drive a car anyway - no driving experience) being just 19 years old and not from a family with money to give first born a car to get L-plates on) - I was asked to play a position in the Nelson water board team (just one match), but it was a tight fit as I had a squash game at Caerphilly sports center booked with a friend who was a law clerk for a law firm in Cardiff. I could never beat this guy, I was in awe of him I suppose, but the drinks after the game took away my inhibitions and I thrashed him to pieces. He couldn't make out how better I had gotten (I hadn't).

There are different competing 'curves', yes alcohol deadens one's reactions, but at low concentration this is can actually be offset by inhibiting one's emotions in a stressful situation. There is a range where some alcohol enables us to act with fewer inhibitions, but then again this might lead to undesirable consequences beyond thrashing a law clerk in Caerphilly sports centre at squash. Where is this law clerk now? He became a lawyer and built up a chain of wee law offices in Caerphilly, Abertridwr and other places - "walk-ins" he called them. Doors open to the street to encourage walk-ins, bit like a hairdressers/barber shop.

As most high schoolers who have taken GCSE or O level chemistry know, the general formula for the alcohol series is CnH(2n+1)OH. If n is equated to zero we get HOH, water. Of course alcohol are regarded as organic and since HOH has no carbons 'in it', water is not regarded as the first member of the series - that prestigious post belongs to methanol (CH3OH); those WAG AMs unable to see the value of patenting Welsh intellectual property have might have touched the first member. Most serious drinkers keep to the second member, various forms of dilute ethanol (C2H5OH).

Water molecules can hydrogen bond from either opposite end; ethanol can only do so at one end. But mix ethanol with some water and the macro hydrogen pattern changes somewhat. Add 100 ml of water to 100 ml of absolute ethanol and the resultant volume is slightly less than 200 ml (or so I was taught in my third year in an inner London school.

However, there is a serious relationship between water and things in one's brain - water solvates proteins and other hydrophilic surfaces somewhat differently (based on hydrogen bonding) than a mix of water and ethanol. So we end up feeling somewhat drunk if we drink too much of the stuff.

johnny foreigner said...

Sorry Glyn, I'm afraid that my comment has an absolutely rock solid basis. In fact, I am a firm proponent of zero tolerance of the consumption of ANY alcohol prior to driving.

Whilst you are clearly in favour of drink driving I assume that you would not support the campaign for this zero tolerance.

I wonder if your pal Mr. Brunstrom reads this blog? I think that he may have something to say.

Unfortunately, you are quite wrong when you state that drinking is entirely legal. You are somewhat mistaken in your belief.

Drinking is only legal in as far as a person's drinking does not infringe the safety and quiet enjoyment of another's life.

If you wish to continue your drink driving, kindly let us all know when and where you intend to do it as then we can all use another route.

You state that drinking is a 'funny' thing with little to do with thirst. I would agree. I would venture to suggest that your drinking has more to do with the effects of the alcohol in that drink. I sometimes wonder how many people would bother to drink wines and beers if there were no alcohol in them. Just a thought.

With regard to your point about Dwain Chambers 'cheating' his fellow athletes. I would further suggest that if you were to be elected to Parliament, with its many subsidised bars, that you would run the grave risk of 'cheating' your constituents by carrying out your represenation of them having consumed your favoured drug of choice.

Your pal.


Glyn Davies said...

johnny - You are entitled to your opinion. I wonder how many people would agree with you. I do sometimes have a glass of wine prior to driving, as do a great many other law abiding peope.

I wouldn't object to a lowering of the alcohol limit for drivers - though I think nil would be unnecessarily draconian.

Even if I were to be elected, I do not think it would have any negative effect (in most people's terms, if not yours). I am a very modest drinker, and never before the evening - even on holiday. Except weddings perhaps. Though I am enjojing a glass of wine as responding to your post now - at 9.30 pm. You will be pleased to know that I've been out to a wine and buffet reception where I refrained from accepting a glass.

johnny foreigner said...

Dr. Chris.

Unfortunately, my 'pet' chemist passed away a couple of years ago. An eminent man, Oxon. (Hons) etc. Therefore I am ill equipped to cross 'chemical swords' with you and humbly bow to your superior knowledge. I'm more of an Arts man myself.

I would agree that you were probably able to beat your pal at squash, having imbibed, simply because your inhibitions were diminished. Perhaps that game spurred you to a natural loss of inhibitions in subsequent games.

I wonder if the World Squash Authorities would deem alcohol as a 'performance enhancing drug'? If that were to be the case I suppose that they would have to ban you under the same rules as the unfortunate Mr. Chambers.

Incidentally, I note that you played for the "Nelson water board team". Is that the same jolly game that they play at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo? I wonder what position you played at? The mind boggles.


I would venture to suggest that a lot more people than may be apparent would agree with me that alcoholic drink and driving do not mix under any circumstances whatsoever.

I would further suggest that, if you were to be involved in a motoring incident, whether or not you were at fault, the fact that you had had even one glass of wine, irrespective of being under the limit, this would place you in an invidious position with regard to any legal or insurance disputes that may follow.

Any half decent lawyer would use this as a lever against you and would easily demolish any defence.

There have been more than enough advertising campaigns highlighting this matter of drink driving and illustrating the devastating effects that this activity can have on its victims.

Obviously, I have a very good reason for my somewhat 'draconian' standpoint on this, as, many years ago, I 'met up' with a chap who protested that he had only had a 'pint'. At that time, as a result of his impaired reactions I unfortunately, lost over four of my 'pints'.....blood, that is. A severed femoral artery in full flow is truly a sight to see. The Fontana de Trevi pales into insignificance.

I would respectfully ask that you use the example of your children and avoid drinking and driving, it's just tooooo risky.

If you were to be stopped by the Police for any reason they would stand close enough to you for a sniff and if alcohol were smelled, a breath test would obviously ensue despite any protestations and, generally, a closer inspection of the vehicle and a load of questions to follow. The Police just don't like drink drivers. If nothing else, the inconvenience would probably irritate you.

I can proudly say that I have been 'on the wagon' for 38 years now and I believe that my survival, to date, has been as a result of this. I was one of those people who, when in drink, didn't get 'funny' drunk, I got 'nasty' drunk and, to my shame, I confess that I have broken more than my fair share of other people's noses. I overstepped the mark one day with my wife, not a woman to 'mess' with, and the ultimatum was given. I stopped there and then. I'm glad that I did.

The current cheap booze that is available now, particularly to youngsters, is clearly having such a devastating effect on so many lives that, personally, I would like to see it banned or subject to much greater controls. Fat chance, I know.

However, I must congratulate you on your noble resistance to temptation at your wine and buffet reception. It wasn't that difficult was it? You probably had just as good a time without it.

In closing, I would earnestly implore you to please, please and pretty please, avoid that glass of wine prior to driving as you never know what's around the corner.

It may be me wandering about in the road and I'd really like you to have 'cat-like' reactions on the brakes. I'm sure that by waiting until you are at your safe destination that your deserved and well earned glass of wine will taste all the better for the wait. I know that I'll be grateful.

Your pal.