Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Offshoot #3

Saturday it happened. The Good Lady and I went to the hopsital early in the morning, after dealing with a rather upset Offshoot #1, not wanting his mum to go away. Offshoot #2 was fine, both having a brief blub after we left and they sat down to breakfast with Nanna.

The Doc induced #3 for fears of not getting to the hospital, and the fears were well founded. Once things got serious, it was barely two hours from contractions to arrival. Not enough time for me to get home from work (35 minutes on a good run, 1 hour on a bad run), get sorted, and get back to the hospital (which is 5 minutes from work).

Offshoot #3 arrived and pronounced well and good shortly after midday.

I went home about 4 hours later and told #1 and #2, and we all went back the morning after to see the newest clan member. The other kids were great, and we'll see if they keep it up once #3 comes home.

So we've all had a few days to get used to the idea of 3 kids, and prepare somewhat for the onslaught over the next few months juggling three balls of muscle and willpower.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ross Gittins and the Age of Enlightenment

Ross Gittins is a man I like to read, quite a bit. He's very stable and forthright, which probably annoys the bleeding hearts and upper-crust toffs no end, especially when he bangs on about a subject like the incoming means-testing for the one-off baby bonus and on-going Family Tax Benefit (can I get any more "-" in that sentence - sure!).

Read here.

A sublime intellingence and an accurate interpretation of what it all means gives a strong article that tells it like it is. Personal opinion hasnt over-run the meaning, and I bet a few readers are sitting back thinking "he might be onto something, but that doesnt mean I have to like it". As it should make people think.

The key parts of this article I found are these:

"Figures updated from the official Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey show that, for 2008-09, the median income of "households" will be about $80,000 a year before tax. And households earning $150,000 or more - starting at almost twice the median - are in the top 15 per cent of households."

OK, owning up time. Our household income will be less than the median this year, and probably for a few years to come. So means testing doesnt affect me. Thats not to say we need the bonus. We eat, we play, we live, we rent, we're not about to all die of starvation and poverty. So if our income was double, what is $5000 in the scheme of things? Answer: nothing. To jump up and down about unfairness if you're earning that much is plain greed and/or bollocks.

"Third, most people manage to keep themselves dissatisfied with their income by always comparing themselves with people who have more and never with people who have less (who, remember, they rarely see up close)."

"Fourth, a lot of people on high incomes keep themselves in a perpetual state of feeling they're having trouble making ends meet by increasing their spending commitments in line with every increase in their income."

I'm betting these are two things everyone does. Comparison to those better off is inevitable. Comparison to those who have less is rare, but more enlightening as to your current status I'd wager.

The fourth point is an excellent one. And in this time of interest free department store deals on everything under the sun, its only getting worse. So you stack up debt that you can "handle", then one bill increases (usually the most important one, the home loan), and suddenly its very sparse at the disposable income end. The non-essential bills get ignored, you sell the second or third car, you get a personal loan to cover store debts, and it all spirals.

The new residential morning mantra: "Grant me the willpower to resist interest free things I dont really need to survive..."

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If this is what it takes to dope...

...I dont think I could ever do it.

Victor Conte, the man from BALCO and the focus of the big "drugs in sport" investigation in the US that has claimed more than a few athletics stars reputations, outlined in a letter the regime that sprinter Dwain Chambers was using when he got caught out in 2003.


The letter is as follows:

Dear Dwain,

Per your request, this letter is to confirm I am willing to assist you in providing UK Sport and others with information that will help them to improve the effectiveness of their anti-doping programs.

The specific details regarding how you were able to circumvent the British and IAAF anti-doping tests for an extended period of time are provided below.

Your performance enhancing drug program included the following seven prohibited substances: THG, testosterone/epitestosterone cream, EPO (Procrit), HGH (Serostim), insulin (Humalog), modafinil (Provigil) and liothryonine, which is a synthetic form of the T3 thyroid hormone (Cytomel).

THG is a previously undetectable designer steroid nicknamed "the clear." It was primarily used in the off season and was taken two days per week, typically on Mondays and Wednesdays. Generally, these were the two most intense weight-training days of the week. The purpose was to accelerate healing and tissue repair. Thirty units (IU) of the liquid was place under the tongue during the morning time-frame. THG was used in cycles of "three weeks on and one week off."

Testosterone/epitestosterone cream was also primarily used during the off season. It was rubbed into the skin on the front of the forearm two days per week, typically Tuesdays and Thursdays. The dosage was ½ gram which contained 50mg of testosterone and 2.5mg of epitestosterone (20 to 1 ratio). The purpose was to offset the suppression of endogenous testosterone caused by the use of the THG and to accelerate recovery. The testosterone/epitestosterone cream was also used in cycles of three weeks on and one week off.

EPO was used three days per week during the "corrective phase", which is the first two weeks of a cycle. Typically, it was on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It was only used once per week during the "maintenance phase" thereafter, typically this was every Wednesday. The dosage was 4,000 IU per injection. The purpose was to increase the red blood cell count and enhance oxygen uptake and utilization. This substance provides a big advantage to sprinters because it enables them to do more track repetitions and obtain a much deeper training load during the off season. EPO becomes undetectable about 72 hours after subcutaneous injection (stomach) and only 24 hours after intravenous injection.

HGH was used three nights per week, typically on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Each injection would contain 4.5 units of growth hormone. Once again, this substance was used primarily during the off season to help with recovery from very strenuous weight training sessions.

Insulin was used after strenuous weight training sessions during the off season. Three units of Humalog (fast-acting insulin) were injected immediately after the workout sessions together with a powdered drink that contained 30 grams of dextrose, 30 grams of whey protein isolates and 3 grams of creatine. The purpose was to quickly replenish glycogen, resynthesize ATP and promote protein synthesis and muscle growth. Insulin acts as a "shuttle system" in the transport of glucose and branch chain amino acids. There is no test available for insulin at this time.

Modafinil was used as a "wakefulness promoting" agent before competitions. The purpose was to decrease fatigue and enhance mental alertness and reaction time. A 200mg tablet was consumed one hour before competition.

Liothryonine was used help accelerate the basic metabolic rate before competitions. The purpose was to reduce sluggishness and increase quickness. Two 25mg tablets were taken one hour before competition. There is no test available for liothryonine at this time.

In general terms, explosive strength athletes, such as sprinters, use anabolic steroids, growth hormone, insulin and EPO during the off season. They use these drugs in conjunction with an intense weight training program, which helps to develop a strength base that will serve them throughout the competitive season. Speed work is done just prior to the start of the competitive season.

It is important to understand it is not really necessary for athletes to have access to designer anabolic steroids such as THG. They can simply use fast-acting testosterone (oral as well as creams and gels) and still easily avoid the testers. For example, oral testosterone will clear the system in less than a week and testosterone creams and gels will clear even faster.

Many drug-tested athletes use what I call the "duck and dodge" technique. Several journalists in the UK have recently referred to it as the "duck and dive" technique. This is basically how it works.

First, the athlete repeatedly calls their own cell phone until the message capacity is full. This way the athlete can claim to the testers that they didn't get a message when they finally decide to make themselves available. Secondly, they provide incorrect information on their whereabouts form. They say they are going to one place and then go to another. Thereafter, they start using testosterone, growth hormone and other drugs for a short cycle of two to three weeks.

After the athlete discontinues using the drugs for a few days and they know that they will test clean, they become available and resume training at their regular facility.

Most athletes are tested approximately two times each year on a random out-of -competition basis. If a tester shows up and the athlete is not where they are supposed to be, then the athlete will receive a "missed test". This is the equivalent to receiving "strike one" when up to bat in a baseball game. The current anti-doping rules allow an athlete to have two missed tests in any given eighteen-month period without a penalty or consequence. So, the disadvantage for an athlete having a missed test is that they have one strike against them. The advantage of that missed test is the athlete has now received the benefit of a cycle of steroids. Long story short, an athlete can continue to duck and dive until they have two missed tests, which basically means that they can continue to use drugs until that time.

In summary, it's my opinion that more than fifty percent of the drug tests performed each year should be during the off season or the fourth quarter. This is when the track athletes are duckin' and divin' and using anabolic steroids and other drugs. Let me provide some rather startling information for your consideration. If you check the testing statistics on the USADA website, you will find that the number of out-of-competition drug tests performed during each quarter of 2007 are as follows: in the first quarter there were 1208, second quarter 1295, third quarter 1141 and in the fourth quarter there were only 642.

In late 2003 I advised USADA about the importance of random testing during the fourth quarter of the year. They did initially seem to follow my advice because they increased the number of fourth-quarter tests in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

However, they failed to continue this practice in 2007. Why would USADA decide to perform only 15% of their annual out-of-competition tests during the fourth quarter? Let's not forget that this is the off season before the upcoming summer Olympic Games. This is equivalent to a fisherman knowing that the fish are ready to bite and then consciously deciding that it is time to reel in his line and hook, lean his fishing pole up against a tree and take a nap.

On several occasions, I have provided detailed information to both USADA and WADA in an attempt to help them establish more effective testing policies and procedures.

I certainly have more information that I would like the opportunity to provide to you and UK Sport, but I will leave that for another time.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful and I am available to assist you further upon request.

Yours sincerely,

Victor Conte

Pretty serious stuff. I wonder what sort of impact on fitness or recovery it would have had if you missed an injection or timetable for a particular drug? The majority of the drugs appear to be recovery aids more than boosting performance. Still, if the recovery is faster, you can train harder or longer, and the effects are reduced, and that still classifies as a performance enhancement.

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The spreading use of the photo

I came across a few links on a news story the other day to a couple of great sites.



Give them a look. The ManBabies is a bit bizarre, but once you get used to it, it's pretty funny. YoungMe/NowMe is great, and I'm thinking of digging up a couple of my old photos to re-create.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Back in, back on, back around...

Hola Amigos

I know its been a while since I rapped at ya, but a lot has been going on. Some of it not enforced, rather of my own choosing, but some of it has been taking time simply because thats the way life goes.

We're waiting for Offshoot #3 to get her head into the world any day now. Yes, a girl. That'll be 1 + 2. Me and the Boy will be outnumbered for years to come. I think the Good Lady is keen to get it over with, too. In between sorting out arrangements, getting things ready, and trying to wrangle #1 and #2, there's not a whole lot of time left for much else. Still, it'll all be over in 18 years or so.

I missed a couple of rides in the last month, but got out early on a cold sunday morning yesterday expecting to meet up with the semi-regular group I ride with. I got the to usual start point to find nobody there, not even the car or ute that a couple of the guys drive down in. I figured I'd take the chance to cover some more ground than usual, so I rode an out and back of the route below. I had to break out the heavyweight jersey and the long knicks (with 3/4 leg warmers underneath). Very Fame!, except that you couldn't see them and they're not wool. I wasnt hot at all, which might tell you how cool it started.

It's got a few hills in the last 1/3 of the trip out, which were nice, given the cooler weather and lack of people. I think the cold kept a few away, as it wasnt till I was nearly back at the beach that I saw the normal amount of people and mid-sized groups heading out. By the time I got back to home, and looped the block a couple of times to make up the numbers, I'd cracked 50km in under 2 hours. The normal sunday is 36km + coffee, which makes up 2 hours or close to. The legs felt a little dead for half a day, but a good sleep and I actually feel I could do it again, perhaps a little slower.

Still no car, and not much chance to look. It's going to have to happen soon though, otherwise I'm going to be caught severely short in days to come I reckon.

Naturally I've been outraged at news items and inspired by reading other peoples blogs, but they're just not as important at the moment.

One blogger that is worth mentioning is the Fat Cyclist. Fatty's wife is going through cancer, and things is grim over Fatty's way. But he's putting a spin on it and opening up to his readers, who are opening hearts, wallets and minds to him and his family in return.

Best of luck Fatty and Susan. Your blog provides an insight into a family going through something I would never wish to go through, yet you do it with style, finesse and a refreshing take on the matter.

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