Tag Archives: testing

Angus Porter, Professional Cricketers" Association chief, reveals Tom Maynard was not tested for drugs before death

PCA chief Porter reveals Maynard wasn't tested for drugs last season before death

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

16:57 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 3 March 2013

Professional Cricketers' Association chief Angus Porter has revealed Tom Maynard was not drug tested last season before his death in June.

Maynard was killed in the early hours of June 18 after he was electrocuted and hit by a tube train near Wimbledon Park station.

Maynard had been trying to evade police after abandoning his car, and a Westminster Coroners' Court was told last week that he was four-times the legal alcohol limit to drive and that he had also taken cocaine and ecstasy on the night of the accident.

Tragic death: Tom Maynard was not tested for drugs last season

Tragic death: Tom Maynard was not tested for drugs last season

A post-mortem report also revealed the 23-year-old Surrey batsman, who was regarded as a potential England international, had used cocaine for at least three-and-a-half months.

In the wake of the findings the PCA have begun talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board to increase the levels of drug-testing – which would also include out-of-competition samples.

While Porter said Maynard's recreational drug use would have been detected under the current policy – which focuses on performance-enhancing drugs – he confirmed the batsman had not been tested last season.

'We have a drug-testing regime in cricket like those in all professional sports which is primarily focused on detecting performance-enhancing drugs for very obvious reasons,' Porter told BBC Radio Five Live.

Tribute: Maynard is remembered in the pavilion at The Oval

Tribute: Maynard is remembered in the pavilion at The Oval

He added: 'The pattern of drug use in Tom's case suggests he would have been picked up by our existing drugs programme.

'Although the use of recreational drugs outside of competition is not a breach of the anti-doping code, use in competition is a breach.

'So he would have tested for recreational drugs had he been tested in competition. Unfortunately given that is a random process he wasn't tested last year.'

Porter confirmed talks with the ECB to initiate out-of-competition testing were ongoing and that 'hair sampling' was likely to now be used to catch recreational drug users.

Shocking: A post-mortem report revealed that Maynard had been using cocaine for at least three months

Shocking: A post-mortem report revealed that Maynard had been using cocaine for at least three months

'We're in advanced discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board about implementing a testing programme for drugs out of competition and almost certainly using hair sampling,' he said.

'As the coroner identified that gives you a longer history and a more certain test.

'We need to be clear we are talking about testing, not to catch cheats, but testing to find people who have a drugs problem.

'Therefore, it will be linked with a confidential programme of help, support, advice and if necessary treatment to get them back on the right path.'

Porter also promised to 'redouble' efforts to educate players on the issues associated with drug taking.

At the inquest: Maynard's former Surrey team-mates Jade Dernbach and Rory Hamilton-Brown (below)

At the inquest: Maynard's former Surrey team-mates Jade Dernbach and Rory Hamilton-Brown (below)

Friend: Rory Hamilton-Brown goes into the inquest

'We work very hard to make sure that all players understand both the challenges they face as professionals and also understand the risks that go with those and the issues associated with being in the public eye,' he said.

'We'll be redoubling our efforts in that respect to make sure they are educated and have access to help when they need it.

'If we are going to turn this in to a positive in any way it's that the things we are wrestling with are ones that are challenges for society at large. If we can draw attention to those challenges then that will be a good thing.'

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina: Danny Garcia"s racist dad won"t stop me this time

Khan: There's no way Garcia's racist dad will stop me beating Molina

|

UPDATED:

01:12 GMT, 12 December 2012

Amir Khan is such a changed young man that not even the provocative presence of Danny Garcia’s offensive father in the opposite corner here on Saturday night will ruffle his new-found maturity.

That is just one of the promises that Khan is making – to his new trainer, his fans and himself – as he strives to put his career back on track by ending Carlos Molina’s unbeaten record in ‘what has become the most important fight of my life.’

The Americans are trying to inflame Khan by drafting in Garcia Snr, whose racist insults caused our boy from Bolton to lose his head – almost literally – in the second of the successive defeats which have knocked him off his world championship throne and into resurrection mode.

No chance: Amir Khan is determined to defeat Carlos Molina

No chance: Amir Khan is determined to defeat Carlos Molina

It is a mischievous move by Team Molina but Khan says: ‘You will see a different, more mature me in this fight.

'I let Danny’s Dad get to me and I went to punish them with a knock-out too quickly, instead of continuing to break him down, and got caught with a punch from nowhere.

‘That’s why Molina has brought him in but it won’t happen this time. I’ve grown up and nothing will take my focus off my boxing.

'I will be smart and pick my moments to go for the finish. Just as I am insisting on random blood testing for drugs before all my fights, so that I don’t suffer again the way I did in the previous defeat by Lamont Peterson,who we found was on steroids.’

The calming presence of the new trainer – the prodigious Andre Ward’s mentor Virgil Hunter – has played a major part in these rationales. But so has the unexpected fate which befell Khan’s friend and former stable-mate Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Khan was speaking in the aftermath of the PacMan’s seismic knock-out by the suddenly muscular Juan Manuel Marquez.

Focused: Khan is looking to bounce back with victory over the unbeaten fighter

Focused: Khan is looking to bounce back with victory over the unbeaten fighter

Knockout: Khan is trying to get his career back on track after the devastating knockout

Knockout: Khan is trying to get his career back on track after the devastating knockout

He said: ‘I believe every boxer should submit to Olympic style testing, not only before fights but all year round. Molina agreed for this fight and we both gave blood about five times during our training camps.

‘But it’s not only the drugs testing. Manny and I were both on the wrong end of big knock-outs because we went lunging in for the quick KO ourselves instead of going through the process. We are both great attacking fighters but not so hot defensively.

‘My natural instinct is to fight but I’ve learned from this experience that I must control that impulse.’

Khan, who was widely criticised after falling to Garcia for his presumption in talking up a future mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather, added: ‘I’ve also learned not to look past the fight in front of me. I know that I simply cannot afford another defeat. I have to concentrate on the job in hand.’

That focus excludes any forward notion of going up a division – to full welterweight – to answer the public challenge from fellow Englishman Kell Brook. Khan is not interested in adding poundage ‘until I’ve come back to clean up at 14O lbs ….even if Brook does win a world title when he fights Devon Alexander her in LA next month. It will be well into next year before I even think of moving up again.’

In conversation: Khan chats to Sportsmail's Jeff Powell earlier this year

In conversation: Khan chats to Sportsmail's Jeff Powell earlier this year

That purging process at light-welter will required him to avenge the Garcia KO and that re-match is likely to be the one he seeks next assuming he overcomes Molina ‘even though I don’t think Danny will take it because I was beating him up until he landed that one big shot.’

He adds: ‘Of course I want to mix it again with the best in the world in due course….but not until I’ve re-established myself.’

In truth, Khan has never been as arrogant as he has been perceived in some quarters and it has been more important to acquire this maturity he now sees in himself. Not humility.

Carlos Molina is not alone in wondering and waiting to see the new Amir Khan enter the Los Angeles Arena.

MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher in the firing line and defeat will prompt some awkward questions

India's big guns are in the firing line… and defeat will prompt some awkward questions

|

UPDATED:

23:29 GMT, 11 December 2012

A little over three weeks after handing Alastair Cook’s team a nine-wicket thrashing in the first Test at Ahmedabad, India’s cricket team can barely move for recriminations.

A series that was billed as their chance for revenge following the 4-0 defeat in England in 2011 has turned into a potential disaster.

Fail to win the fourth Test at Nagpur and India will have suffered their first home defeat in 15 series since losing to Australia in 2004-05 — and only their fifth out of 41 since David Gower’s England side won nearly 28 years ago. It is that bad.

Victory, on the other hand, and India
will be able to save at least some face, although plenty of local
observers feel a drawn series would merely delay the blood-letting they
believe is necessary for India’s Test side to move forward.

Uncertain future: Duncan Fletcher (left) and MS Dhoni have come under fire in the Indian Press

Uncertain future: Duncan Fletcher (left) and MS Dhoni have come under fire in the Indian Press (FILE IMAGE)

A testing time

India's Test record since winning the World Cup:

2011: 2-0 v West Indies (away)

2011: 0-4 v England (away)

2011: 2-0 v West Indies (home)

2011-12: 0-4 v Australia (away)

2012-13: 2-0 v NZ (home)

Central to the debate about their future are three men: Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher — celebrity batsman, captain and coach.
As England took charge of the third Test at Kolkata, the Times of India ran a front page picking its team for Nagpur. Dhoni was not in it, while Fletcher has been widely castigated for failing to halt a run of bad results.

That may be unfair on the former England coach, who took over from South African Gary Kirsten just after India lifted the 2011 World Cup at home and Kirsten was conscious he would soon be losing the services of middle-order legends Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. And it is unclear exactly how much power Fletcher has to change India’s cricket culture, which has traditionally been in thrall to the cult of stardom. ]

The manner in which Tendulkar, who turns
40 in April, has clung on has been all too typical. It was a year
between his 99th and 100th international hundreds, and his 76 at Eden
Gardens was his first half-century in 11 Test innings.

The end of an ear The glittering career of Sachin Tendulkar is reaching its close

The end of an ear The glittering career of Sachin Tendulkar is reaching its close (FILE IMAGE)

Dhoni, meanwhile, has lost his lustre after presiding over 10 defeats and only six wins — five against West Indies and New Zealand — since he lifted the World Cup in April 2011. That includes 4-0 whitewashes in England and Australia. A 3-1 defeat now would do little for his career prospects.

Indian hopes of a pitch-induced victory in Nagpur were not helped by a good-looking track at the VCA. But it was hard to be certain: the local groundsman, Pravin Hinganikar, has been instructed by the Indian board not to speak to the media following the outbursts of the Eden Gardens curator Prabir Mukherjee, who refused to do the BCCI’s bidding.

The board’s paranoia reflects the fragile state of their Test team. If India’s away form has been a bone of contention over the years, they have usually been able to take refuge in their near-invincibility at home.

The defeats in Mumbai and Kolkata have come as quite a shock. Another in Nagpur, and Indian cricket will have to answer some very awkward questions.

Lance Armstrong reputation is done – Des Kelly Daily Mail column

Really, what are these people who support Lance Armstrong on

|

UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 13 October 2012

So who else knew There were too many people involved; too many mouths open and too much money was in play for this to remain a genuine secret for so long.

There must have been people in positions of power within the sport who had knowledge of what Lance Armstrong was up to long before this damning dossier was released.

Dragging the proof into the public domain was a difficult task, but only because it was hampered by what has all the appearances of an institutional cover-up, a co-ordinated conspiracy and the propagation of a huge lie that extends way beyond the disgraced rider’s circle of team-mates.

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong led 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme'

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong led 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme'

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Of course people knew. Armstrong’s team used to sing a song about the drug use, for heaven’s sake. His fellow rider at the US Postal Service team, David Zabriskie, revealed how he would adapt the words to Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze when they were in meetings or on the bus.

‘EPO all in my veins,
Lately things just don’t seem the same.
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why,
’Scuse me while I pass this guy.’

The bigger joke is that cycling tried to pretend the scandal wasn’t happening, or did they think it was too big a risk to bring Armstrong down

It is certainly difficult not to laugh at the idea that the Union Cycliste Internationale governing body once accepted 78,000 from Armstrong for the ‘development of drug-testing equipment’. Seriously, what were these people on Were they stupid

There were others prepared to ignore the obvious. After the coruscating United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Armstrong landed with an almighty thud, his key sponsor rushed out a statement in less time than it would have taken for the rider to empty a syringe into a vein.

It said: ‘Nike continues to support Lance.’

That’s right. Despite the extraordinary amount of evidence, despite the fact that former team-mates and colleagues provided more than 1,000 pages of detail on his doping, Armstrong’s commercial backers were still there, putting an arm around his shoulder.

In doing so, they gave a whole new meaning to their company’s advertising slogan: ‘Just Do It’.

This is how sport tries to protect itself, with shrugs, tacit acceptance, blanket denials and intimidation.

The head of USADA, Travis Tygart, received three death threats during the Armstrong probe, all currently being investigated by the FBI.

Two journalists at the vanguard of
exposing the culture of doping in cycling, and Armstrong in particular,
have been chased to court and harassed.

In one legal action, UCI president Pat
McQuaid and ‘honorary president’ Hein Verbruggen are seeking full-page
apologies from newspapers in Britain, France and Switzerland.

We got you: Nike, one of Armstrong's main sponsors released a statement confirming their support

We got you: Nike, one of Armstrong's main sponsors released a statement confirming their support

We got you: Nike, one of Armstrong's main sponsors released a statement confirming their support

This is the same Verbruggen, a current International Olympic Committee member, who said in May 2011: ‘Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never.’

The UCI should be issuing full-page apologies, not asking for them. They should be throwing open the doors and hidden files, not silencing their critics.

Were Armstrong’s ploys to avoid out-of-competition testing ignored Was he tipped off beforehand about testers’ visits

There is an oft-quoted statistic that Armstrong passed 500 tests. In fact, he was asked for blood on around 260 occasions — and it is known he returned positive results on more than one occasion. But the rider, his team and the authorities ‘explained’ them away at the time.

Armstrong is finished now. His reputation is done. But the UCI must be called to account, too.

How did the US agency gather such a comprehensive mass of evidence when the supposed governing body could not — or would not

There are two obvious views. The UCI
knew what was happening and yet failed to act. Or they did not know and
so they are incompetent. Either way, they must be considered unfit for
purpose and those in charge should have already handed in their
resignations.

Was Armstrong’s drug-taking vastly
different to most of the leading riders of his generation Yes, he
survived seemingly terminal cancer and then set about raising an
extraordinary amount of money to help fellow sufferers.

The people his foundation has helped will not care, but that cannot exonerate his behaviour in this scandal.

What is peculiar is the idea that this
has all come as a shock inside cycling. People outside the sport have a
right to be amazed, but Armstrong’s activities became common knowledge
in the peloton.

Pat Mcquaid, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale

Hein Verbruggen

In denial: UCI president Pat McQuaid and ‘honorary president’ Hein Verbruggen are seeking full-page apologies from newspapers in Britain, France and Switzerland

Yet everyone is talking about how the sport is ‘moving on’ and ‘looking forward, not back’. To listen to Team Sky chief David Brailsford, the man who boasted his outfit would be scrupulously clean and use a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, this was all a blinding revelation to him.

‘The more you read, the more the jaw drops,’ he said. ‘Armstrong was one of the first cyclists that maybe transcended the sport. It was an amazing thing, so to now find out what was behind it is disappointing.’

Brailsford says he only found out now.

But Canadian Michael Barry was at Team Sky. The same Barry that used to ride alongside Armstrong. The same Barry was named in the USADA report confessing to years of EPO and testosterone use within Armstrong’s team.

Barry claims he stopped doping in
2006, before he joined Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky in 2009. But since
he lied beforehand it’s up to you whether you believe him now.
Coincidentally, one month before the damning USADA report was issued,
Barry retired from Team Sky.

At least Britain’s Tour de France
champion, Wiggins, admitted that, while he was shocked by the scale of
evidence, he was not by the facts themselves. ‘I’m not surprised by it —
I had a good idea what is going on,’ he said.

It’s all a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it
Wiggins says he knew what Armstrong was up to. Ex- team-mate Barry
certainly knew. Brailsford says otherwise and insists that Barry lied to
him about past doping. Someone’s certainly gullible. As long as it’s
not you or me.

The Team Sky website was still
carrying an official statement about Barry’s retirement on Thursday,
saying: ‘He was a founding member of Team Sky when he signed at the end
of 2009, and over the last three seasons has set an example to the rest
of the squad with his positive attitude, unwavering commitment to the
cause, and wealth of cycling knowledge.’

Seventh heaven: Armstrong was considered one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation

Seventh heaven: Armstrong was considered one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation

There is no doubting his knowledge, but we might argue about the wisdom of using the word ‘positive’ in the circumstances.

Barry himself added: ‘Through my 14-year professional career I’ve been fortunate to race with many of the top teams. From my first coaches and club-mates, to Dave Brailsford and my Team Sky team-mates, I’ve had the opportunity to race and learn from many of the best.’

Ah yes. He learned a lot. He learned how to cheat. The page has disappeared now. This is all very uncomfortable for Sky and Brailsford. As was the recently terminated association with Dr Geert Leinders, a man with a murky past in cycling.

But history is being wiped away. We’re all ‘moving forward’, apparently. Yes, it’s better now. There’s nothing to see here any more, so move along. Can we believe that I think Hendrix had it right without any need to change his lyrics.

‘Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if it’s day or night
You’ve got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind,
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time’

Thou shalt not upset the FA

The Football Association plans to issue players with a ‘code of
conduct’. You will know this, since I believe it has already been on the
back pages at least three times this year.

Whenever anything awkward or untoward happens in the international camp,
someone at the FA mentions that football’s commandments will be brought
down from Mount Bernstein soon, as if that is going to make everything
suddenly clear.

How long does it take to tell players not to behave like, to coin a
phrase, ‘a bunch of t***s’ Monks in medieval times produced illuminated
manuscripts faster than this list of dos and don’ts . . .

Toe the line: Ashley Cole was the latest England player to land himself hot water with football authorities

Toe the line: Ashley Cole was the latest England player to land himself hot water with football authorities

Luckily, I have obtained an early leaked copy. It says:

Do not sleep with a team-mate’s partner or wife
Do not racially abuse another player
Do not sell on any perks you may receive as a result of your international call-up
Do not park in any disabled parking bay
Do not get drunk or abusive in public

The document is still being drafted, but the working title is ‘The Book of John’. I can’t think why.

Wronga: Newcastle's new sponsorship deal hasn't gone done well with the supporters

Wronga: Newcastle's new sponsorship deal hasn't gone done well with the supporters

Money talks.. and turns the air blue

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew believes the sponsorship money
provided by the company dubbed a legal loan shark, Wonga.com, can help
push the club into the top four. He intends to motivate the players by
demanding they give 4,214 per cent.

Ash, he's a top gun

Joe Hart offered up a ringing endorsement of Ashley Cole this week.

‘He was very welcoming to me and I’ve noticed he’s like that with a lot
of the young lads,’ said the England goalkeeper. ‘That’s the beauty of
him,’ he added.

Yes, Cole’s traditional ‘hello’ to youngsters is the stuff of legend. A
shot with an air rifle into the thigh of an intern at the training
ground makes them feel right at home.

Catch me if you can

I'll be part of a BBC 5 Live Fighting Talk special in front of a
sell-out crowd at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield at 11am on Saturday.

Afterwards, I will be embarrassing myself even more as Fighting Talk
faces the 606 team in a charity five-a-side match for BBC Children in
Need. If I’m still alive, The Press Pass is on talkSPORT on Sunday at
6pm..

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on?

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on

|

UPDATED:

23:27 GMT, 12 October 2012

So who else knew There were too many people involved; too many mouths open and too much money was in play for this to remain a genuine secret for so long.

There must have been people in positions of power within the sport who had knowledge of what Lance Armstrong was up to long before this damning dossier was released.

Dragging the proof into the public domain was a difficult task, but only because it was hampered by what has all the appearances of an institutional cover-up, a co-ordinated conspiracy and the propagation of a huge lie that extends way beyond the disgraced rider’s circle of team-mates.

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong led 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme'

Disgraced: Lance Armstrong led 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme'

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Of course people knew. Armstrong’s team used to sing a song about the drug use, for heaven’s sake. His fellow rider at the US Postal Service team, David Zabriskie, revealed how he would adapt the words to Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze when they were in meetings or on the bus.

‘EPO all in my veins,
Lately things just don’t seem the same.
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why,
’Scuse me while I pass this guy.’

The bigger joke is that cycling tried to pretend the scandal wasn’t happening, or did they think it was too big a risk to bring Armstrong down

It is certainly difficult not to laugh at the idea that the Union Cycliste Internationale governing body once accepted 78,000 from Armstrong for the ‘development of drug-testing equipment’. Seriously, what were these people on Were they stupid

There were others prepared to ignore the obvious. After the coruscating United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Armstrong landed with an almighty thud, his key sponsor rushed out a statement in less time than it would have taken for the rider to empty a syringe into a vein.

It said: ‘Nike continues to support Lance.’

That’s right. Despite the extraordinary amount of evidence, despite the fact that former team-mates and colleagues provided more than 1,000 pages of detail on his doping, Armstrong’s commercial backers were still there, putting an arm around his shoulder.

In doing so, they gave a whole new meaning to their company’s advertising slogan: ‘Just Do It’.

This is how sport tries to protect itself, with shrugs, tacit acceptance, blanket denials and intimidation.

The head of USADA, Travis Tygart, received three death threats during the Armstrong probe, all currently being investigated by the FBI.

Two journalists at the vanguard of
exposing the culture of doping in cycling, and Armstrong in particular,
have been chased to court and harassed.

In one legal action, UCI president Pat
McQuaid and ‘honorary president’ Hein Verbruggen are seeking full-page
apologies from newspapers in Britain, France and Switzerland.

We got you: Nike, one of Armstrong's main sponsors released a statement confirming their support

We got you: Nike, one of Armstrong's main sponsors released a statement confirming their support

We got you: Nike, one of Armstrong's main sponsors released a statement confirming their support

This is the same Verbruggen, a current International Olympic Committee member, who said in May 2011: ‘Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never.’

The UCI should be issuing full-page apologies, not asking for them. They should be throwing open the doors and hidden files, not silencing their critics.

Were Armstrong’s ploys to avoid out-of-competition testing ignored Was he tipped off beforehand about testers’ visits

There is an oft-quoted statistic that Armstrong passed 500 tests. In fact, he was asked for blood on around 260 occasions — and it is known he returned positive results on more than one occasion. But the rider, his team and the authorities ‘explained’ them away at the time.

Armstrong is finished now. His reputation is done. But the UCI must be called to account, too.

How did the US agency gather such a comprehensive mass of evidence when the supposed governing body could not — or would not

There are two obvious views. The UCI
knew what was happening and yet failed to act. Or they did not know and
so they are incompetent. Either way, they must be considered unfit for
purpose and those in charge should have already handed in their
resignations.

Was Armstrong’s drug-taking vastly
different to most of the leading riders of his generation Yes, he
survived seemingly terminal cancer and then set about raising an
extraordinary amount of money to help fellow sufferers.

The people his foundation has helped will not care, but that cannot exonerate his behaviour in this scandal.

What is peculiar is the idea that this
has all come as a shock inside cycling. People outside the sport have a
right to be amazed, but Armstrong’s activities became common knowledge
in the peloton.

Pat Mcquaid, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale

Hein Verbruggen

In denial: UCI president Pat McQuaid and ‘honorary president’ Hein Verbruggen are seeking full-page apologies from newspapers in Britain, France and Switzerland

Yet everyone is talking about how the sport is ‘moving on’ and ‘looking forward, not back’. To listen to Team Sky chief David Brailsford, the man who boasted his outfit would be scrupulously clean and use a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, this was all a blinding revelation to him.

‘The more you read, the more the jaw drops,’ he said. ‘Armstrong was one of the first cyclists that maybe transcended the sport. It was an amazing thing, so to now find out what was behind it is disappointing.’

Brailsford says he only found out now.

But Canadian Michael Barry was at Team Sky. The same Barry that used to ride alongside Armstrong. The same Barry was named in the USADA report confessing to years of EPO and testosterone use within Armstrong’s team.

Barry claims he stopped doping in
2006, before he joined Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky in 2009. But since
he lied beforehand it’s up to you whether you believe him now.
Coincidentally, one month before the damning USADA report was issued,
Barry retired from Team Sky.

At least Britain’s Tour de France
champion, Wiggins, admitted that, while he was shocked by the scale of
evidence, he was not by the facts themselves. ‘I’m not surprised by it —
I had a good idea what is going on,’ he said.

It’s all a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it
Wiggins says he knew what Armstrong was up to. Ex- team-mate Barry
certainly knew. Brailsford says otherwise and insists that Barry lied to
him about past doping. Someone’s certainly gullible. As long as it’s
not you or me.

The Team Sky website was still
carrying an official statement about Barry’s retirement on Thursday,
saying: ‘He was a founding member of Team Sky when he signed at the end
of 2009, and over the last three seasons has set an example to the rest
of the squad with his positive attitude, unwavering commitment to the
cause, and wealth of cycling knowledge.’

Seventh heaven: Armstrong was considered one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation

Seventh heaven: Armstrong was considered one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation

There is no doubting his knowledge, but we might argue about the wisdom of using the word ‘positive’ in the circumstances.

Barry himself added: ‘Through my 14-year professional career I’ve been fortunate to race with many of the top teams. From my first coaches and club-mates, to Dave Brailsford and my Team Sky team-mates, I’ve had the opportunity to race and learn from many of the best.’

Ah yes. He learned a lot. He learned how to cheat. The page has disappeared now. This is all very uncomfortable for Sky and Brailsford. As was the recently terminated association with Dr Geert Leinders, a man with a murky past in cycling.

But history is being wiped away. We’re all ‘moving forward’, apparently. Yes, it’s better now. There’s nothing to see here any more, so move along. Can we believe that I think Hendrix had it right without any need to change his lyrics.

‘Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if it’s day or night
You’ve got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind,
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time’

Thou shalt not upset the FA

The Football Association plans to issue players with a ‘code of
conduct’. You will know this, since I believe it has already been on the
back pages at least three times this year.

Whenever anything awkward or untoward happens in the international camp,
someone at the FA mentions that football’s commandments will be brought
down from Mount Bernstein soon, as if that is going to make everything
suddenly clear.

How long does it take to tell players not to behave like, to coin a
phrase, ‘a bunch of t***s’ Monks in medieval times produced illuminated
manuscripts faster than this list of dos and don’ts . . .

Toe the line: Ashley Cole was the latest England player to land himself hot water with football authorities

Toe the line: Ashley Cole was the latest England player to land himself hot water with football authorities

Luckily, I have obtained an early leaked copy. It says:

Do not sleep with a team-mate’s partner or wife
Do not racially abuse another player
Do not sell on any perks you may receive as a result of your international call-up
Do not park in any disabled parking bay
Do not get drunk or abusive in public

The document is still being drafted, but the working title is ‘The Book of John’. I can’t think why.

Wronga: Newcastle's new sponsorship deal hasn't gone done well with the supporters

Wronga: Newcastle's new sponsorship deal hasn't gone done well with the supporters

Money talks.. and turns the air blue

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew believes the sponsorship money
provided by the company dubbed a legal loan shark, Wonga.com, can help
push the club into the top four. He intends to motivate the players by
demanding they give 4,214 per cent.

Ash, he's a top gun

Joe Hart offered up a ringing endorsement of Ashley Cole this week.

‘He was very welcoming to me and I’ve noticed he’s like that with a lot
of the young lads,’ said the England goalkeeper. ‘That’s the beauty of
him,’ he added.

Yes, Cole’s traditional ‘hello’ to youngsters is the stuff of legend. A
shot with an air rifle into the thigh of an intern at the training
ground makes them feel right at home.

Catch me if you can

I'll be part of a BBC 5 Live Fighting Talk special in front of a
sell-out crowd at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield at 11am on Saturday.

Afterwards, I will be embarrassing myself even more as Fighting Talk
faces the 606 team in a charity five-a-side match for BBC Children in
Need. If I’m still alive, The Press Pass is on talkSPORT on Sunday at
6pm..

London 2012 Olympics: 60 per cent of athletes are using drugs, claims disgraced supplier

Games drugs slur: Chambers' doping guru claims 60 per cent of athletes are cheating

|

UPDATED:

00:03 GMT, 9 August 2012

London's Olympic Games, praised around the globe for great sport and brilliant organisation, were smeared on Wednesday by the world’s most infamous dealer in sporting drugs.

Victor Conte, jailed in the United States for his role in supplying athletes such as Dwain Chambers and Marion Jones with so-called designer drugs, told The Times that six out of 10 athletes at the Games are taking banned substances.

He offered no evidence but the slur will muddy the waters of a Games that had previously escaped doping controversy.

Claim: Victor Conte says drugs are easy to use

Claim: Victor Conte says drugs are easy to use

The 62-year-old claimed to have been given the names of three top athletes who are ‘using the Dwain Chambers protocol’, a reference to the cocktail of seven drugs he gave to the British sprinter.

Leading figures at the Games poured scorn on his claims. Lord Moynihan, chairman of the BOA, told Sportsmail: ‘Victor Conte is sadly discredited. As a frequent spokesman on behalf of the drug cheats he lacks credibility. It is time he praised clean athletes and stopped casting aspersions on those who have fought against the darker side of sport.’

Conte has made these allegations publicly on previous occasions but has failed to produce any evidence to support his claims. Choosing this moment merely keeps a man hungry for self-promotion in the public eye.

Shamed: Dwain Chambers was supplied by Conte

Shamed: Dwain Chambers was supplied by Conte

Anybody foolish enough to take the drugs that Chambers took would be caught, as he was. Yet Conte claims the drug-testing at the London Games is irrelevant. ‘It is basically propaganda to come out and say, “This is the most expensively tested Games ever and we’re doing 6,000 tests”,’ he said.

‘If you test positive at the Olympics that is more of an IQ test. Athletes won’t do that. You have to put your hook and line in the water when the fish are biting and that was nine months ago. Is it easy to use drug and benefit during Olympics Yes.’

Conte served four months in jail for his leading role in what became known as the BALCO Affair. US federal authorities discovered he was supplying many American track athletes, cyclists and baseball players with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Ultimately it resulted in the suspension not only of Jones and Chambers but of double sprint world champion Kelli White and world 100m record holder Tim Montgomery.

Flexing: Conte with bodybuilder Iris Kyle

Flexing: Conte with bodybuilder Iris Kyle

Conte, who employed chemists to create drugs unknown to testers at the time, did a deal, pleading guilty to a charge of illegal steroid distribution and money laundering to reduce his sentence to four months.

But his associates went to prison for far longer after Montgomery’s coach Trevor Graham blew the whistle on them. Graham’s own involvement was later revealed and he was sentenced to one year of house arrest and banned for life from coaching.

Among the other athletes caught up in the Balco Affair were baseball stars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas and a host of NFL players. Bonds was later convicted of obstruction of justice.

The International Olympic Committee and the London organising committee refused yesterday to make any comment on Conte’s claim, fearing that any denial would lend him credibility.

London 2012 organisers say testing in London is stringent, with the first five to finish in every event having to provide samples, as are two more selected at random. The results of these blood and urine tests will be retained by laboratories for eight years and re-tested if new technology becomes available.

To suggest that 60 per cent of athletes take drugs would suggest that the 64million testing programme organized worldwide by the World Anti-Doping Agency has failed utterly. National and international anti-doping agencies have found no more than two per cent of those tested showing up positive for banned substances.

There is no reason to believe that performances in London have improved. No world records have been broken in track and field, and none of the records thought to have been created in the 1970s and 1980s in the worst era of doping have been challenged.

London 2012 Olympics: Handball catching the imagination

Olympic diary: Handball! (But there isn't a footballer in sight)

|

UPDATED:

22:04 GMT, 30 July 2012

Olympics 2012

It speaks volumes for football’s sporting dominance in this country that when anyone says handball it is mainly regarded as a reason to shout at a referee.

But across mainland Europe and Scandinavia it has nothing to do with Diego Maradona’s outstretched arm, and is instead a sport in its own right.

This came as something of a shock to the organisers of the London Olympics. When the Games bid was successful seven years ago, British coaches looked down the list of events and suddenly realised they had forgotten something. There was no handball team.

Hard luck: The British handball team salute the crowd despite their heavy defeat to Russia

Hard luck: The British handball team salute the crowd despite their heavy defeat to Russia

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So they essentially invented one, either by shopping abroad or trawling for recruits on the internet, which is why so many of this Team GB come from anywhere but Britain.

Lyn website that is supposed to list the players’ ‘birth date and place’ significantly doesn’t bother to refer to the place. Possibly because they didn’t have an atlas.

Others have recently taken up the sport, like Kathryn Fudge, whose mother saw an advert for the ‘Sporting Giants’ campaign looking for tall, sporty women and applied on her behalf.

So handball is new to most of us, both on and off the court. But its arrival at the Games has certainly been greeted with enthusiasm. There wasn’t an empty seat in the 7,000-capacity Copper Box arena and people are starting to wonder why they haven’t seen much of the sport before.

It all started in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Having invented alcoholism, depression, pornography and flat-pack furniture, the Scandinavians turned their attention to sport and handball began to flourish in the 19th Century. It spread right across mainland Europe, but — like rabies — stopped at the Channel. The field version of the game was first played at the 1936 Olympics, but the men’s indoor version appeared at the 1972 Munich Games and the women joined four years later in Montreal. Britain didn’t bother until it landed on their doorstep.

As I understand it, the rules are as follows. People run up and down a five-a-side court, throw a medium-sized ball from side to side across the semi-circular penalty area for a while like a hot potato, and then fling it into a small goal with great force.

Spread eagle: Natalia Shipilova scores a goal against Great Britain as Russia ease to victory

Spread eagle: Natalia Shipilova scores a goal against Great Britain as Russia ease to victory

Most of the time, you wonder why they don’t just kick the thing, but there is no doubting the contests are surprisingly physical and hectic. Oddly, for a game involving hands, the position of goalkeeper seems to be the most redundant. Their main duties seem to be: 1) Jump like a starfish to try to stop the ball. 2) Retrieve the ball from the back of the net. 3) Repeat every couple of minutes.

If by some miracle an attacker does fail to score by hitting one of the keeper’s four outstretched limbs, the crowd goes wild. And GB’s Sarah Hargreaves did at least have two blocks to celebrate during a back-straining hour in which the Russians scored 37 times.

But despite the gulf in quality, the Copper Box audience was as supportive and partisan as a pantomime crowd and took great delight in simply experiencing the game. Despite its decidedly un-British feel, handball seems to hook in the curious and is showing signs of growing in popularity.

‘I came along because it looks like an enormous amount of fun,’ said BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull sitting next to me in the press box. ‘And it probably is — if you’re not up against a giant Russian.’

Let's get physical: Lynn McCafferty of Great Britain (right) and Natalia Shipilova of Russia

Let's get physical: Lynn McCafferty of Great Britain (right) and Natalia Shipilova of Russia

That seemed to be the main problem for Britain. The Russians were enormous. Britain’s girls could not be faulted for effort, but they appeared to be pitted against the seven sisters of Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer in Rocky IV.

In the circumstances it was a bit much to ask them to do anything other than avoid embarrassment, since they were facing the former world champions and silver medallists from Beijing four years ago.

At the end of a fairly one-sided, but oddly encouraging performance, the British players were cheered as if they had won, lined up to take a collective bow, and left the arena with their heads held high despite a comprehensive 16-37 defeat.

Britain now anchor the foot of Group A and the team’s Danish coach Jesper Holmris admitted: ‘A quarter-final spot is extremely ambitious.’ But he believes their chances will improve against the non-European teams, beginning with Brazil on Wednesday.

New fan: David Cameron (left) watched the handball at the Copper Box on Monday

New fan: David Cameron (left) watched the handball at the Copper Box on Monday

Six-foot tall Fudge, GB’s only real ‘Sporting Giant’, was watched from the stands by the mother who originally nominated her for the team.

She said afterwards: ‘Who knew that would lead me to here I couldn’t even imagine the Olympics would be like this.

‘Handball really is a minority sport in this country and that’s why we have to look abroad for players. We need to be competitive because performing at a decent level attracts attention and increases participation here. That’s the only way the sport is going to grow. But we’re getting there. In the last few days it seems to have gone crazy.’

The women have fought for recognition for their sport, touring schools and trying to increase the profile of their niche sport. Some have sold their houses to fund their participation in the British team. It would be a shame if the advances they have made were lost after the Games. They deserve a hand.

This souvenir passed through the scanner

This souvenir passed through the scanner

DAILY X-RAY

The scanners are proving to be easy to negotiate at the moment. A mildly lethal souvenir metal bottle opener and magnetic fridge magnet didn’t so much as raise a beep as I wandered though the machine.

DAILY MOAN

The bright spark at the Olympic Broadcast Service who moaned that the failure of the info graphics during coverage of the cycling road races was down to the public daring to use their mobile phones and interfering with their GPS system.

The IOC is now asking spectators to ‘only send urgent tweets and pictures’ from London 2012. I don’t believe they can have been paying attention.

You’d have to use surgery to get most people to part with their phone — and these days everything is urgent.

England can cope without Pietersen, claims batting coach Gooch

England can cope without KP, claims batting coach Gooch

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UPDATED:

18:09 GMT, 7 June 2012

A wall of water ensured England got by
without Kevin Pietersen on Thursday – but they are already planning for a
permanent future minus their mercurial game-changer in limited-overs
cricket.

Batting coach Graham Gooch had the
luxury on day one in the third Investec Test against West Indies of
extra time to fine-tune his charges' techniques, should he wish.

Testing time: England's Kevin Pietersen has turned his back on limited-over cricket

Testing time: England's Kevin Pietersen has turned his back on limited-over cricket

After the washout was finally confirmed at teatime at Edgbaston, Gooch also found himself pondering the make-up of the one-day international and Twenty20 squads to face these same opponents and due to be announced at the conclusion of this final Test.

One name which will not be read out is Pietersen's, following his unexpected decision last week to quit ODIs and – because of a clause in his employment contract – T20s too.

Pietersen's welter of more than 4,000 one-day international runs means his restriction to Test cricket only is an obvious loss to his adopted country.

But Gooch appears sanguine about his 50 and 20-over absence, convinced there are other developing talents able to fill Pietersen's boots. 'Life moves on – one door closes, another one opens,' he said.

'You have got to look at it from a team point of view as an opportunity for someone else to make his mark, to represent his country and to win games for his country.

Upbeat: England batting coach Graham Gooch

Upbeat: England batting coach Graham Gooch

'I would personally wish Kevin all the best – obviously he's still going to play Test cricket – in whatever else he does.

'But that chapter of his career is finished now, and we have to look forward.'

Pietersen, 32 later this month, called time on his 'World Cup' career, on the back of two match-winning centuries – having been belatedly moved up to open the innings.

Gooch added: 'I look at it as an opportunity for someone else, for a young player, to grab that chance. You've got to look forward.

'I'd like to think we would find someone who can do the job, absolutely.

'I was always in favour of Kevin Pietersen opening the batting, because I am in favour of putting your best players in first in one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket.

Washout: There was no play on first day of Third Test

Wash-out: There was no play on first day of Third Test

'Get your best players at the top of the order and give them all the overs to make an impact.'

A host of names spring to mind as possible top or middle-order batsmen to face the Windies, who are expected to push England much harder in the shorter formats than they have in a Test series already wrapped up by the hosts after victories at Lord's and Trent Bridge.

Before Darren Sammy's men can retrain their sights, though, they must try to avoid a whitewash here – possibly without the sterling services of their most reliable batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

The limpet left-hander has kept England at bay longer than most this summer, but today went to hospital for a scan on his sore side.

The Windies remain optimistic Chanderpaul may yet be fit to take part, though, a team spokesman saying: 'A day off gives him a chance to see how well he goes.'

Ally McCoist: Rangers can win SPL

We can win the crown! McCoist silences quit rumours and targets fourth straight title

A bullish Ally McCoist insisted Rangers can still beat Celtic to the SPL title — even without Nikica Jelavic.

The Croatian left for Everton on transfer deadline day in a 6million deal, with efforts to recruit Norwich striker Grant Holt as a replacement failing
amidst concerns over the Ibrox club’s long-term future.

An anti-climactic transfer window ended with the SPL champions losing six first-team players, while signing just one — prompting fresh speculation
McCoist could quit as manager in dismay.

Plenty to ponder: Ally McCoist endured a frustrating transfer window

Plenty to ponder: Ally McCoist endured a frustrating transfer window

As bookmakers Paddy Power stopped taking bets on his departure, however, the Rangers boss quelled resignation talk by claiming he can still lead his side to four-in-a-row.

‘I’m lucky enough to be manager of this football club and I believe we can win the championship again,’ he said.

‘I wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be in this position if I didn’t believe that. It’s going to be difficult. We don’t have the numbers they (Celtic) do — but I believe we have the quality.

‘It’s going to be a testing time but, of course, I believe we can do it and we have the boys who can get the goals required.’

Owner Craig Whyte, meanwhile, insisted he and McCoist are ‘on the same page’ in their working relations and dismissed fears the manager could quit.

‘Ally and I had a great meeting on Tuesday before the window
closed,’ said Whyte after returning to Monaco.

Badly missed: Nikica Jelavic

Badly missed: Nikica Jelavic

‘We are both on the same page on everything we’re doing. Of course, he would have liked to bring in a replacement for Jelavic.

‘We tried to do that, but he also said he was willing to go with what he has for the rest of the season.

‘Rumours he is going to resign are rubbish and spread by those who do not know Ally.

‘Nikica was a big player for us,’ McCoist added. ‘He’ll be missed, without doubt, but we have options in attack. Mervan Celik falls into that category and David Healy has been scoring recently.

‘Kyle Lafferty is only two or three weeks away from returning, so we will not be short of options.’

McCoist spoke as former chairman Alastair Johnston accused Whyte of breaking the transfer promises made when he took the club over.

‘There is a bit of disappointment with the transfer window,’ Johnston told Sportsmail. ‘I mean with respect to what they all thought Mr Whyte was going to do when he came in, with respect to the commitments he made.

‘Those were recognised in the formal shareholders’ agreement when he promised to put at least 5m into the club net of any sales. So it would be 5m, plus any proceeds from players leaving.

‘Notwithstanding any magical accounting, Mr Whyte is way ahead with regard to the income the club has derived from transfers out, in the wake of Jelavic disappearing.

‘So, yes, there is disappointment from the fans. Mr Whyte has not upheld his commitment. The result is Ally is operating with two hands behind his back.

Wasting your time: Rangers failed with a bid for Grant Holt (left)

Wasting your time: Rangers failed with a bid for Grant Holt (left)

‘There is a lot of confusion with respect to whoever is running the off-field side of signing players.’

Rangers’ curious transfer dealings were highlighted by Norwich chief executive David McNally, who told Sportsmail he had made it clear to Ibrox officials even before the window opened they would be wasting their time trying for Holt.

Rangers tabled a 1m offer late on Tuesday, which was turned down by the Carrow Road club.

McNally said: ‘We were quite clear with Rangers that Grant was not for sale under any circumstances.

‘They did make an inquiry on Tuesday, which was knocked back immediately. But they wouldn’t have been in a position to have done anything because Grant wasn’t for sale at any price.’

Andy Murray and Judy Murray kick off season

Stiff opener for rusty Murray… but mum Judy speeds on with Fed Cup role

It was a busy day for the Murrays, the family whose pre-eminence in British tennis has never been greater than now.

While national No 1 Andy kicked off his season with an arduous victory in the first round of the 310,000 Brisbane International on Tuesday, his mother Judy was announcing the first squad in her new role as GB Fed Cup captain and general driver of standards in the women’s game.

The outcome of both events was ultimately of little surprise, although the world No 4 was made to fight before overcoming Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Off to a winning start: Andy Murray beat Mikhail Kukushkin in Brisbane

Off to a winning start: Andy Murray beat Mikhail Kukushkin in Brisbane

Judy Murray’s Fed Cup appointment and that of Ivan Lendl as her son’s coach mean she is likely to be a less visible presence in her son’s career, although will never be out of the picture entirely.

Andy will not start working in earnest with Lendl until next week and the Czech was not there to see his new client survive a shaky start before overcoming one of the better players in the lower reaches of the top 100.

Murray faces Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller on Wednesday but it is all about peaking for the start of the Australian Open in Melbourne a week on Monday. While Murray ought to be the strong favourite this week to win an event at which no other top 10 player is present, he has been working harder than usual outside his matches to ensure he is in peak shape.

That, and the fact this was his first contest since pulling out of the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in late November, meant a degree of ring rust and stiffness was always likely.

Hard fought: Kukushkin gave Murray a testing time in the first round

Hard fought: Kukushkin gave Murray a testing time in the first round

Indeed, he needed to recover from losing the first four games. Murray said: ‘He was hitting winners from all over the place. I was a little bit slow. I didn’t expect him to come out swinging like that in the first match of the year. You have to be mentally ready from the start and I wasn’t quite there.

‘So I need to improve on that and I played better towards the end. I started to move better, my body loosened up a bit.’

Judy Murray named Britain’s top four players in Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson for her opening match as captain of the national women’s team. They face a tough task to gain promotion to the elite World Group at a 15-nation gathering at Eilat in Israel early next month. British No 7 Tara Moore travels as a reserve.

Skipper: Fed Cup captain Judy Murray has named her first squad

Skipper: Fed Cup captain Judy Murray has named her first squad

The inclusion of Moore, a promising 19-year-old, is notable in that she became so disillusioned with the British set-up last year that she considered qualifying for Hong Kong, where her mother is from, but Judy clearly wants to ensure that she is embedded in the domestic scene.

Describing the team as ‘an exciting mix of youth and experience’, she will be hoping to avoid the strongest nation, Poland, when the draw is made next Monday.

It has been a mixed start to the year for Britain’s top women. Baltacha won her opening match in Auckland, where Keothavong was beaten in the last round of qualifying. Watson had to withdraw with an ankle injury while Robson’s first outing will be in the Australian Open qualifying tournament.