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Martina and The Snowballs (Watercooler) 01/04/2008 - 1:10 PM

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Housekeeping note: Make sure you tune in tomorrow morning for an important, happy announcement that is sure to bring a smile to many of your faces! - Pete

As most of you already know, the ITF independent Anti-Doping Tribunal handed down its decision in the case against Martina Hingis yesterday. The Tribunal categorically rejected Hingis's appeal. Hingis, the 3,456th consecutive athlete who, after testing positive, vociferously denied the charge and proclaimed her innocence, has been suspended for two years - which has become a moot point given that Hingis also announced her retirement shortly after the original doping charge was made public.

I urge you to read the entire report of the Tribunal. I found that some parts of it read like the script of a Monty Python movie. There's this whole thing about the doping control officer being "Mr Snowball" (his wife, Mrs. Snowball, was the one who actually supervised the urine-sample delivery process). And how about that bit (paragraph 36) about how Mr. Snowball thought it "strange" when the Firekitten gave Mrs. Bosanquet a kiss. Anyway. . .

I'd be the last person to advocate lynching people who have used or even just tried cocaine (among other things it would make me a horrible hypocrite, wink-wink), but the recreational drug is a prohibited substance and, at the end of the day, either you have rules or you don't. (Excuse me, I need to run to the men's for a moment!). Many people will think it a shame that this positive drug test will become part of the Hingis legacy, but something that came up while Pete Sampras and I were working on his book has led me to re-consider that (Back in a sec, where the hail is that danged Kleenex?).

You may remember that Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open (it was his only Grand Slam singles title, and in winning it he prevented Marcelo Rios from taking one) and rose as high as No. 2 in the world rankings.  Months thereafter, after a drug test administered at Wimbledon, he became the first high-profile tennis player busted under doping rules that finally acquired teeth when tennis became an Olympic sport again (in order to be an Olympic sport, tennis must embrace the stringent drug-testing policies of the International Olympic Committee). Korda tested positive for nandrolone, which is to dopers what a Big Mac is to fans of fast food. Banned for a year, Korda (like Hingis) basically said "To hail with it", and left the tour.Korda

Now here's the funny part. In 1997, Korda hung a surprising loss on Sampras at the US Open of 1997. This was one of the strangest matches in Pete's career, and it played out under ugly conditions, including at least one rain delay. Korda hung in there to win the match in a fifth-set tiebreaker - it was one of the few times in Pete's career that he had a match under control and let a guy come back to win. But in light of the Korda bust of a few months later, its perfectly acceptable to speculate on what role doping might have played in that win by Korda. After all, one of the things doping can increase your strength and stamina - two critical areas for the human pencil,  Korda.

Pete will re-visit this issue in his book, and it wouldn't be right of me to publish his thoughts here. But here are mine:  Korda was a player who gave Pete fits on more than one occasion. The guy was a brilliant shotmaker who seemed to play his best when he had nothing to lose. He was also a weird dude - he defaulted from the US Open after beating Pete that year, on the grounds that he was "sick" (it was an incident reminiscent of the Gasquet default at the US Open; in fact, there are a number of similarities between Korda and Gasquet). Still, if you connect the dots, even Korda's upset of Sampras is tainted.

The funny thing, now, is that nobody made that big a deal out of the Korda suspension and fine back when it happened. And while Korda lost all his appeals and had to return over half-a-million dollars in prize-money, it's fair to ask if that was sufficient punishment for a guy who won over $10 million in his career - plus earned hefty sums in appearance feels, exhibitions and endorsement fees.

I'm not sure that's sufficient punishment, and it isn't because of how I feel about Petr Korda. It's because how I feel about Marcelo Rios.

Rios was denied his one and only major, and it may have been because his opponent had the benefit of doping. I wonder how Rios felt after Wimbledon in '98, seeing that the guy who beat him in Melbourne had been found guilty of doping. I think that the ITF should have stripped Korda of his Australian Open title and awarded it to Rios.

Of course, the ITF has no such protocol in place. So I would suggest that the ITF adopt a policy of awarding all the matches won by a convicted doper for a specific interval (three months? six months? a year?). I mean, dopers presumably benefit from their illicit actions, at least in some cases (nandrolone, as opposed to cocaine) for some time before they're busted. So why not let the record show that?

Here's something else to consider, if you don't think that a doper here or a doper there can really influence the game very much. The record that may very well be the foundation of Pete Sampras's legacy is his six consecutive years as the year-end No. 1 player. Pete sealed that record in 1999, tying Jimmy Connors in '98. Guess who was really pushing him, near the end of the year, and threatening to actually make Pete have to play him in the year-end championships in order to secure the top spot?

Correctamundo. Marcelo Rios.

Now, imagine if Rios had the added benefit of winner's ranking points at the Australian Open. That could have given him enough of a cushion to finish as the year-end No. 1, with a major to boot. This become critically important because Rios pulled out of some events at the end of the year, which helped enable Sampras to catch and surpass him in the rankings.

Personally, I'm not sure you could re-adjust things like ranking points in order to mete out justice to dopers. That gets awfully complicated. And who knows what Sampras himself would have done, if Rios had won in Melbourne? You certainly can't take Pete's No. 1 ranking away, because Korda was a doper and you had to make restitution to Rios.

To me, the key thing is the titles anyway. So I would urge the ITF and other Lords of Tennis to agree that in addition to the usual punishment,  dopers be stripped of any victories or titles they won for a specified time before their positive test. Give the Ws, if not the ranking points, to the guys they beat. In my mind, Rios is the 1998 Australian Open champion and Petr Korda is the doper who never won a major legitimately.

This rant began as a speculation on Hingis's legacy, so let's bring it full circle. Korda, who to my mind committed a far worse offense than Hingis, is happily playing on the senior tour, acknowledged as a Grand Slam champ, and (presumably) livin' large. Even Pete Sampras bears him no ill will, which speaks well for Sampras. I've always felt that it's much easier to forgive than to forget, but in tennis, people seem to forget with equal facility.


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Posted by skip1515 01/04/2008 at 04:11 PM

I don't have the time to post a whole lot about this at the moment, but here are a couple of quick thoughts:

1. Me, I always liked watching Korda. His game fascinated me, and I enjoyed the way he played. That doesn't color my view of the situation, but I thought I should say it.

2. Korda had suffered a foot injury in the months preceding that AO, and I always wondered if his positive test was the result of prescribed medication for the healing of what was a bone fracture (as I remember it). I did check the wikipedia entry for nandrolone, and within the context of wikipedia's margin for error (a doctoral thesis if ever there was one), nandrolone is used for increasing bone density (among other things).

3. If Hingis can be suspected of doping by posters here (and btw, no agency's come close to accusing her of steroid use; equating alleged cocaine use with concomitant steroid use is unfair, and probably silly), and the "proof" is additional muscles (show me the photo, please) and a whisper of a moustache, how can we explain Korda's obvious lack of defined musculature? During his entire career, if the guy stood sideways and stuck out his tongue you'd have thought he was a zipper.

About the hairiness of his upper lip, I haven't a clue.

Posted by Ryan 01/04/2008 at 04:13 PM

On a more serious note, this incident will have virtually no bearing on the part of her career that mattered--which was all of it until about March '07.

Samantha, can we please show a little restraint. A lot of us here feel passionately about Martina and her game, and you're like the Morton Girl poking our wounds.

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 04:13 PM

Again, let me express my sincere sympathy to her fans, but I'm not going to pretend like I think she's innocent nor am I going to give her a pass.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 04:14 PM

I'm still trippin' on the 'greasy pig' visual set aflame by Ok-k... now where did this metaphor originate? How does the pig get greasy? what kind of grease is it?

Posted by CM 01/04/2008 at 04:16 PM

As that one person posted above - there is room for errors when it comes to this kind of testing. The fact that so many athletes have been shown to have lied...that is the real problem. Now the public and media are so jaded, that we just don't trust anymore.

It only takes one time to ruin trust and a lifetime to try and regain it. I feel bad for athletes who maybe honestly inadvertently took something and tested positive. Or who honestly didn't take anything and can't prove it. Those people will never get a fair shake because of all the liars...and I think they are the majority.

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 01/04/2008 at 04:17 PM

1. it was one sample - not two (A&B from same sample) that, btw, tested different concentrations from each other.
2. She tested for a metabolite of cocaine not cocaine itself
3. It was the doping labs that confirmed the positives through their procedures. They have a history of defending themselves despite some rather unsavory events in the past.

Saying she lied assumes the samples were handled correctly, it was not a false positive and the system is fair and balanced towards justice rather than an assumption in the percision of the science behind the testing and the procedures in place.

I think your detractors are less than 100% sure all those things are infallible as you seem to be.

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 04:17 PM

Samantha: You missed the point of my question ...

LOL Ryan.

Posted by Sher 01/04/2008 at 04:18 PM

Rosangel,

I am absolutely against "guilty until proven innocent". There is no way to get your reputation back once you've been accused of something because most people will see you differently and lives get ruined. I would always rather have an undeserving player with a grand slam (whatever, _they_ know that they don't deserve it) than an innocent person stripped of dignity.

That doesn't mean I don't believe in severe punishment for abusers, just that judgement should be reserved until some kind of investigation reaches a difinitive conclusion.

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 01/04/2008 at 04:20 PM

I find fault with the current guilty until proven innocent and inexact nature of the science and procedures in place that underly the whole sad case rather than a if she or did she not thing.

They need to improve the science or make the process more of a combination of science and judgement, giving the accused a fighting chance to defend themselves.

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 04:20 PM

I was trying to put words to the korda picture above, and Skip did it for me with the zipper.

It looks like an open fly

Posted by CM 01/04/2008 at 04:22 PM

And I do feel bad for all the Hingis fans. Cocaine can hardly be equated with steroids or HGH. If she did take something on purpose that showed up as this...then I think we all know that she hardly took it to enhance her performance. It isn't like she won Wimbledon or something. But rules are rules and they have to be enforced. Martina has chosen not to fight these allegations and so must live with the consequences of this incident.

But I agree that this does not take away from what she accomplished at her career height.

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 04:22 PM

Sam, I understood your question and the reason for it, I didn't answer it because it assumes that I would treat players differently. I would criticize drug use, no matter who it was, Justine or Hingis. TT, why did the ITF find her guilty?

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 04:23 PM

", if the guy stood sideways and stuck out his tongue you'd have thought he was a zipper."

skip - that was hilarious!

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 04:27 PM

Jbradhunter - at county fairs it is a contest where grease (any kind, but axel grease is good) is applied to a pig, then a gaggle of kids are let loose to catch it.

It is hilarious to watch, because the pig just squishes out whenever any body get their arms around it. The danger is that pigs can be known to, in self defense, bite. And they have sharp teeth.

Posted by CM 01/04/2008 at 04:28 PM

***Sam, I understood your question and the reason for it, I didn't answer it because it assumes that I would treat players differently. I would criticize drug use, no matter who it was, Justine or Hingis. TT, why did the ITF find her guilty?***
_______________
I don't like drug use or athletes that test positive for HGH/steroids, etc...but I can tell you that if my fav tested positive, I would definitely want to give him/her the benefit of the doubt. And I probably would give him/her more benefit of the doubt because of how I feel about them. That is natural. Just like it is natural to believe the worst of someone if you don't happen to like that person.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 04:31 PM

thanks Ok-k... gosh, I had no idea pigs would bite... though, it's not an animal I find so cute that I just have to pet it- or rub grease on it and try to catch it...

Posted by Ryan 01/04/2008 at 04:31 PM

Paging the Australian Open women's final 2006...Women's final of the 2006 Australian Open, your table is ready.

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 04:34 PM

jbradhunter - For fifty bucks, a pig can be cute enough.

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 04:34 PM

CM: That's exactly how I feel.

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 04:34 PM

You know what else is fun, OK-k? When we were kids, we would have a contest at parties with a greased watermelon thrown into the pool. Whoever could get it up over the edge would win. Very hard to do!

As an aside...I'm so glad our dear Bissy isn't around for today. I'm not a great fan of Martina's, but I feel for all of her fans today, like Ryan and Bissy. I don't celebrate this sad news at all, or get any satisfaction about her ban. Just sad. :(

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 04:36 PM

"At the end of the day, you either have rules or you don't." Great point Pete. Go Justine!

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 01/04/2008 at 04:37 PM

because they have a vested interest in defending their system of testing and convicting. What do you think they are going to say - these test throw off numerous false positives, labs have a history of mishandling samples, are not, in fact, conclusive evidence?

Over the counter cold medicines, muscle rubs all sorts of things have thrown off these sort of results. As I said, my feelings are not Hingis centric, rather a feeling the whole drug testing industry is something both the ITF and labs have a real stake in defending. As I think the science is not 100% sure, I think the system should be a fairer process taking into account as many factors as may seem relevant to come to a fair decision.

Now it is random test, test comes back, ITF or cycling or other body charges athlete - they are in press and guilty- these guys support their procedures or lose credibility in their system - the athlete must then spend a million bucks in legal fees to fight them.

I still say admit the systems are not cut and dried accurate and adjust the process to ensure fairness, regardless of who is charged.

Posted by Ryan 01/04/2008 at 04:38 PM

Thanks Tari. :'(

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 04:38 PM

I think pigs are adorable! I would love to have a baby pig around, seriously. They're so damn cute! But they get too big.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 04:39 PM

... though it would be funny to dress like a pig, and rub grease all over the costume, and then go to a really nice cocktail party, and give nicely dressed people hugs, and then when they got mad they would try to catch you to beat you up but they wouldn't be able to catch you cuz you'd be all greasy, and then when they called the cops, THEY wouldn't be able to get you either, cuz you'd be all greasy...

has this been done before? am I remembering something, thinking I'm thinking it, but I've actually seen it and I've forgotten? Hmm?

Posted by Grant 01/04/2008 at 04:41 PM

"I'm still trippin' on the 'greasy pig' visual set aflame by Ok-k... now where did this metaphor originate? How does the pig get greasy? what kind of grease is it?"

I was getting acquainted with a bottle of cheap scotch when this dame walks into my office. I can always tell if a broad is trouble by the way she walks. This one was a steerage class ticket to Gomorrah on the good ship Sinksalot. One way. But when you haven't worked in weeks, you'll listen to any dame. Especially one with gams like hers.

"I need you to find me a greased pig."

Right away a hundred questions raced through my mind. What pig? How did it get greased? What kind of grease? What's a dame like this need a greased pig for? How do I catch it?

One thing was certain: by the time this was over, we'd all be covered in grease.

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 04:41 PM

Tari - greased water melon in a pool...that would be hard.

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 04:43 PM

jbrad: Have you read Janet Evanovich's books? Her main character, Stephanie Plum, Bond Enforcement Agent, had to arrest a greased up naked guy that had skipped bail. Hilarious!

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 04:45 PM

OMG- Grant! LOL

Tari- I haven't read her books, but the incident you mentioned alone sounds funny! :)

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 04:47 PM

You're easy, Grant!

Posted by L. Rubin 01/04/2008 at 04:49 PM

Tari,

They also like to roll in mud and excrement. But they get such a bad rap for doing so! Contrary to widespread belief, they don't do this because they're a bunch of filthy, eh, pigs, but because mud and s*&t help them ventilate. In the Middle East (where both Jewish and Muslim dietary laws were conceived) pigs, in response to the hot weather, have to do some serious s*&t-rolling in order to stay cool! And what do they receive in return? Scorn, abuse, and the epithet "dirty pig." What the hell are they supposed to do, switch on the AC?

--Liron

--Liron

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 04:50 PM

I second the Janet Evanovich books. They are hilarious.

Posted by Jamaican Girl 01/04/2008 at 04:51 PM

I haven't posted for a while (was on vacation) but I do agree with Or its a bit fishy and I do see a connection. Also as Marion Jones proved you can't believe everyone, even though Jamaica came in second in the relay I was happy for Jones because she was idol to many people and I defended her and look how it all turned out. As for Martina the minute she gave up without a fight she more or less admitt that she was guilty, and I won't defend He like I did Marion because it might come back to huant me

Posted by L. Rubin 01/04/2008 at 04:53 PM

Grant,

Priceless post!

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 04:56 PM

I have a great story about a pig, but it would take a while for me to write it up, and do it justice. But and I am at work. Maybe later tonight.

Liron is right - pigs roll in the mud to keep cool. There are a smart animal though.

Posted by Rosangel 01/04/2008 at 04:57 PM

Samantha: do you assume that all those who are in authority are automatically morally right in every decision they take?

The latter of the law (or regulations) do not automatically equate to a perfect balance of what's right and what's wrong. I could quote you many examples where the balance isn't right.. The fact is that people in authority are just people. Some good, some not so good. Some highly intelligent; some who are brilliant exam-takers without an ounce of common sense. Some of the rules they make are sensible - some are mediocre or even unjust.

So the question to me is more about whether what Hingis did made her play better tennis or not. It didn't. Ultimately, she, and no-one else in the sport (unless you're worried about it's overall reputation), has been hurt by her presumed actions. Making an example of someone for what she did is not the same as making an example of someone who is bulking up with steroids.

Yes, sure, Hingis was probably guilty of breaching the letter of the law (regulations). Not clever, but not doping to steal undeserved results from other players.

I don't like Hingis as a person, BTW, so I'm certainly not arguing from a fan's point of view.

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 04:58 PM

Aww...Liron! I didn't think I could like pigs any more than I already did...*sniff* I'm so touched. :)

And TT: You are far too reasonable! *hugs*

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 04:59 PM

"I still say admit the systems are not cut and dried accurate and adjust the process to ensure fairness, regardless of who is charged."

That would actually make sense, so it will never happen ...

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 04:59 PM

"Babe" is a really good movie

Posted by Rosangel 01/04/2008 at 05:01 PM

And, to be clear, my not liking Hingis is a definite dislike of some of her behaviours that I've seen - not the relative indifference I feel for a number of other players.

Posted by Rosangel 01/04/2008 at 05:03 PM

I gladly admit, however, that on a tennis court, at her best she was wonderful to watch.

Posted by Veruca Salt (Has her golden ticket) 01/04/2008 at 05:03 PM

I love pigs because where else would you get pork chops, bacon, and liver pudding from?

YUM!

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 05:05 PM

Amen to that, Veruca! Mmmm....bacon!!!

Posted by Jamaican Girl 01/04/2008 at 05:05 PM

I think the 2 year ban if fair and just if Martina was found guilty, it doesn't matter if it was a performance enhancement drug or not the fact of the matter is that it was an ILLEGAL drug, if the police had caught her with it she would be punnished so why should she/anyperson get away with it in the tennis world.

Posted by temes 01/04/2008 at 05:05 PM

Does anybody know the score to the Venus-Demmy match? I couldn't find it. Thanks.

Posted by beth 01/04/2008 at 05:06 PM

Rosangel - I love your first line of your 4:57 post . Really cuts to the heart of the matter. I swore I was not going to comment on this topic - but I have to - if you ever find a teen who accepts authority without questioning it - please send him or her to my house - it would be a pleasant break from reality :) For the record - I would put money that Samantha's answer will be no

Grant - priceless - great story

I do not care why pigs roll in excrement - they smell bad - I will resist all urges to find them cute

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:07 PM

temes- 6-3, 6-3

Posted by 01/04/2008 at 05:07 PM

Ros, of course I understand that people in positions of authority don't alway make the right moral decisions, but the rules are pretty cut and dry. If you test positive for illegal drugs then you receive a two year ban. That is what Sesil got and now the punishment is the same for Hingis. Sorry, but I don't think we start changing the rules in the middle of the game so that Hingis can advoid the punishment she earned.

Posted by beth 01/04/2008 at 05:09 PM

but - I wholeheartedly agree with the love of bacon

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 05:10 PM

The last post was mine, I'm watching the match as I post, great doubles.

Posted by ptenisnet 01/04/2008 at 05:10 PM

venus 6-3, 6-3

http://www.jbgroupclassic.com/

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:10 PM

ooh- bacon and grits! yummy!!

Posted by temes 01/04/2008 at 05:13 PM

Thanks jbrad and ptenis(congrats to the poster of the year!!)!
Mmmmm, she seems to be in good shape.*thumbs up

Posted by beth 01/04/2008 at 05:13 PM

jbrad - definitely yummy
I have not had any grits in so long

Posted by creig bryan 01/04/2008 at 05:15 PM

Samantha:

Pete Bodo's "A Peep Out Of Pockets" post included a link to this story:

> "...Martin Tankleff will remain a free man and the people who he says killed his parents 19 years ago may be investigated by a special prosecutor, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Wednesday.

Announcing that Tankleff will not face a new trial on charges that he fatally beat and stabbed his parents in 1988, Spota said the passage of time and recent court rulings made it impossible "to reasonably assert that the case against Tankleff would be successful."

Samantha, this man spent 19 years in prison, based on the opinions of "people in authority," a group of wise men and women, one of whom may have been as zealously sure (read: blindsided) about Tankleff's guilt, as you are of Hingis'. What facts do you have to support your assertions: That's she's guilty? That she lied? What irrefutable proof do you have? Surely it's as solid as the case against Tankleff was. Surely these drug testers are as beyond reproach as the crew that decided Tankleff was guilty.

People die, everyday, executed based on someone's subjective whim of a notion of an idea of Righteousness. Where in the hail is Samuel L. Jackson?

Keep Smiling

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:15 PM

beth- have a looksy! :)
http://www.quakergrits.com/

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 05:17 PM

Dammit, stop making me hungry! ;-)

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:21 PM

I love taking the really crispy bacon and breaking it into small pieces and then sprinkling the bacon bits into the grits-which I only put salt and pepper on... back when I was a kid, Mom would make the grits with cheese- but I tragically discovered I was lactose intolerant around 12 or 13 or so... course, hasn't stopped me from the occassional date with ice cream--

Posted by L. Rubin 01/04/2008 at 05:21 PM

"People die, everyday, executed based on someone's subjective whim of a notion of an idea of Righteousness."

Bless you, Creig.

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 05:21 PM

CB, the science says Hingis is guilty, not just the ITF. Her urine sample tested positive. If science said you are guilty, then you are guilty. I find it hard to believe that people want to continue to believe there is no evidence to support her guilt. Is the doctor who said she "absolutely" tested positive lying to. I know everyone is lying but Hingis, right?

Posted by Or 01/04/2008 at 05:29 PM

Samantha - some of us aren't saying that the tests are wrong, but maybe that the fact the drug was recreational should be taken into consideration.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 05:29 PM

It's all a conspiracy against poor Hingis, just listen to some of the posters, the ITF and the doctors all out to frame poor Hingis, they have a vested interest in finding her guilty. Ah right.

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 05:30 PM

I had bacon-wrapped water chestnuts cooked in barbecue sauce at a party recently. YUM.

Posted by Jenn 01/04/2008 at 05:30 PM

Happy New Year to everyone - this is the first time I have posted since Christmas...

The Petr Korda match that really stands out in my mind for some reason is the 2nd round night match at the 1991 US Open vs. Agassi when Agassi actually spit toward one of the refs (or so was alleged, although he denied it) and very nearly got defaulted. Korda was a bit tough for me to get behind even before the doping issue, but who among us did not like that scissors kick?

I agree with Ros that it is too bad that sports people are being held guilty until proven innocent more often that not, but given the adamant denials, later followed by tearful admissions, of many high profile athletes such as Marion Jones, I am not surprised it has come to that.

I may have missed it, but what is the next step for Hingis if she wanted to try to clear her name?


Posted by Grant 01/04/2008 at 05:35 PM

After thinking of rejoinders to both sides of this fascinating Hingis debate, I decided that the only sane thing to do was to set all that aside and ask the real question that matters:

What the hail is the appeal of grits?

Posted by Pierre 01/04/2008 at 05:35 PM

I skied all day and I have kind of a buzz from all the sunshine.

And now I am reading about whether Martina Hingis has a moustache, and somehow that was transmogrified into why baseball was foisted on the Japanese by the Americans. Hey, maybe it after that whole war thing that happened?

What are grits, by the way? I have heard of them but I have no idea what they actually are.

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 05:36 PM

"I may have missed it, but what is the next step for Hingis if she wanted to try to clear her name? "

Certainly not enlisting Samantha's counsel. ;-)

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 05:39 PM

Sam, maybe she should asked the conspiracy theorists on the board for a little help.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:40 PM

Pierre- see quakergrits.com link posted above :)

Grant- grits are like mother's milk for many children born in the Southern part of the US

Posted by Pete 01/04/2008 at 05:41 PM

Just so you know, folks, you are also guilty until proven innocent every time you get a traffic ticket, when you get audited by the IRS, and in a thousand other ways. IUPG is by no means the norm in this or any other culture except in certain proceedings that qualify as "criminal."

I agree it's horrible that innocent people die every day because of someone's sense or "righteousness", but then it's pretty hard not to lapse into righteousness if someone just murdered your or your neighbor's wife or teen-aged kid.

Posted by Pierre 01/04/2008 at 05:42 PM

Are grits the same as cornbread?

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 01/04/2008 at 05:47 PM

I for one would be quite a bit more sanguine about the entire drug testing regimen if the tests, like Hingis" in this case, actually revealed the banned substance ITSELF rather than a "metabolite" supposedly related to the substance.

Perhaps someone versed in the actual chemestry can chime in, but lets assume, simply for the sake of discussion, that the "metabolite" itself could be produced by either cocaine or, for the sake of hilarity, five Red Bull energy drinks mixed with a Cadbury bar. What are the actual odds? 65% that its cocaine, 35% that its merely the munchies?

Those who were around will remember that in the Canas case, he got suspended for taking medicine accidentially supplied to him by the tournament physician, which medicine contained a substance which was not in an of itself performance enhancing, but could be used to mask evidence of other drugs -- and this is not my version of the facts, but the version of the facts found by the appeals board!

Sorry, there, Canas, it was only 10% of your athletic career.

In the full Hingis opinion, there is no argument over the question I raised, because the standards for violation are not that the metabolite has to be proven by the sporting tribunal to have existed due to drug use, and it appears that even if Hingis could have proven that it was due to Red Bulls and chocolate it would not have helped her. As a result, Hingis had to argue what we lawyers call "procedure" (as opposed to "substance") -- that there was a processing error with respect to the samples.

I really get no satisfaction out of this either way, and by either way I mean that sports are demonstorably cleaner or that justice is done.

Posted by Grant 01/04/2008 at 05:48 PM

"Are grits the same as cornbread?"

No. Cornbread is amazing. Grits are a flavourless mush made from corn. People then throw in other things to disguise the fact that they're eating a flavourless mush.

I mean, as weird regional foods go, it makes more sense than vegemite, but still.

(I won't stop until all involved in the drug debate are unified in their anger at me)

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:51 PM

Grant- they are flavorless- agreed... but the texture, warmth, reminder of childhood are just too much good to ignore

Posted by Jenn 01/04/2008 at 05:51 PM

Grits kind of remind me of Malt O Meal, but without the slightly sweet, yummy breakfast taste. But if you add lots of cheese, they are OK.

Posted by Grant 01/04/2008 at 05:52 PM

"five Red Bull energy drinks mixed with a Cadbury bar."

As a scientician, I can safely say ingesting that will turn your blood into pure cocaine. Yikes.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 01/04/2008 at 05:53 PM

Grant at 4:41 p.m.

Only a couple of days into the new year and the bar is set!

Posted by Pierre 01/04/2008 at 05:55 PM

Cornbread is amazing with a little bit of butter melted on top.

Are Red Bulls and chocolate now banned substances too? For crying out loud, what are these people allowed to EAT?

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 05:57 PM

Thanks for that, Dunlop. Very good points.

Posted by temes 01/04/2008 at 05:57 PM

I really don't have anything to say about this subject, you know, other than that Hingis had a magnificent career, a lot of people loved her tennis, crack is whack...

Posted by 01/04/2008 at 05:57 PM

Grits and righteousness.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 05:59 PM

if Red Bull and Cadbury are banned substances- then I'm Tony Montana

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 06:00 PM

anon- they both abound in the South!

hee hee!

Posted by Samantha 01/04/2008 at 06:01 PM

I'm watching the doubles match and it weird that Novak is having a difficult time handling some of the serves and shots by Serena and he's not holding back. Her serve is outstanding.

Posted by 01/04/2008 at 06:02 PM

The two best questions I've heard today:

"Are grits the same as cornbread?"

and from my VERY young son:

"Is Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton's daughter?"

Posted by creig bryan 01/04/2008 at 06:11 PM

Pete: Substitute the word "misguided" in place of "subjective"

Samantha:

I have no science.

I have opinion. Just like you.

Thus, in absolute polarity, strong enough for you to identify (with), here's what "I know to be the true facts:"

Hingis did not knowingly take cocaine. Either the tests were false positives, or someone spiked her food or drink (or something?).

I know this because the science of human nature doesn't lie, and when I saw her in the interview she di'int look up to the left when she made her statement, and you know when you look up to the left, you're lying, and she only looked to the right, so the science says she wasn't lying. And besides, she was so smart and wise, and her sweet mother gave her special attention which caused her to always live a morally righteous life. She was hurt when you guys accused her of being a Black Widow, too. But that's alright because, even though she retired and all, she's still the best and smartest tennis player ever. Go Martina.

Samantha, science can make mistakes. Even gravity has holes.

Keep Smiling

Posted by beth 01/04/2008 at 06:13 PM

I love grits - I do find them flavorless all on their own though .
they are more a comfort food - for me - something I ate as a kid - hot cereal in the morning before school - got to add butter , salt , pepper or bacon - and of course cheese
These additives take out all nutritional value from the food - but do give it flavor
Oh well -
everything fun is either fattening, illegal or immoral - well almost everything :)
HI - Jenn and Dunlop - I see the legal minds are here to weigh in on this controversy

and just so you know - it is the metabolite thing that really bothers me as well . Biochemistry , and that is what we are discussing here with metabolites - is extremely complex . There is a reason it is studied only in the far labs in the basement of the science buildings on campus . These guys never see the light of day . Just take a quick glance at some of the molecular structures they come up with - and deal with on a regular basis. The sheer complexity is mind boggling. That one small carbon bond can so completely alter the function of a particular chemical and change its long lasting effects requires intense study. This why drug research is so expensive.

Posted by 01/04/2008 at 06:16 PM

Grant: If I tested positive for grits, I travel to the ends of the earth to defend myself. Cornbread, however, I might have to lie about.

Posted by CL 01/04/2008 at 06:19 PM

Grant - grits are gruel and like the kid in the New Yorker, I say, "to hail with them."

See... I knew this would happen. Would anyone like a little chocolate sauce for their grits? Follwed by a Red Bull chaser of course.

Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon once got into a fascinating discussion of the relative intelligence of the horse and pig. Its no contest... the horse is on the VERY short bus in that dept. But McMahon, for once got the last word. If you are lost in the woods with a horse, he pointed out, if you give the horse his head, he will lead you home. If you give the pig his head, he will lead you to the nearest orange peel.

(No grits were harmed in the telling of this story.)

Posted by creig bryan 01/04/2008 at 06:19 PM

Update:

An unnamed, but reliable source has just informed me of the method:

Someone put it in her grits. Yeah, that's the ticket. Fish and Grits.

Keep Smiling

Posted by Tari 01/04/2008 at 06:21 PM

Dang, Beth. Impressed. :)

Posted by beth 01/04/2008 at 06:22 PM

CL - funny about the horse and the pig - I never knew that pigs were supposed to be smart - could have fooled me

ever notice that grits are always plural - there is never just one grit

Posted by CL 01/04/2008 at 06:25 PM

beth - I know- they certainly don't LOOK it...and horses have that whole noble profile thing going for them, but I think pigs definitely win the IQ race. Though perhaps we just don't ask horse the right questions. ;-))

Posted by Veruca Salt (Has her golden ticket) 01/04/2008 at 06:25 PM

I haven't had grits since I left the south and I don't plan to eat them again until I return home. California grits? Get outta here!

Gotta love TW..from cocaine, to grits, to pigs, to Hillary.

*sings*
"One of these things doesn't belong with the others."

Posted by creig bryan 01/04/2008 at 06:28 PM

There is only one true grit.

Keep Smiling

Posted by Grant 01/04/2008 at 06:29 PM

"from cocaine, to grits, to pigs, to Hillary."

That's what Bill was going to call his autobiography until the publisher vetoed it.

Posted by Sam 01/04/2008 at 06:29 PM

"transmogrified "

Now there's a word you don't hear often. First time I saw it was in a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

Posted by Sherlock 01/04/2008 at 06:30 PM

Hilary is doing cocaine? Samantha had an inkling about her.

This horse-pig debate is nonsense. I know better. I watched Mr. Ed.

Posted by jbradhunter 01/04/2008 at 06:30 PM

beth- you're a smarty smart :)
you know this cuz you KNOW this, right? keg stands and molecular biology... a renaissance woman!

Posted by OK-k 01/04/2008 at 06:31 PM

Hey, they use pigs to test the efficacy (and side effects) of drugs before going to Human trials. They may even use pigs when testing for BAD things in athletes.

Ptenisnet did the acronym PIG come up in the report?


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