Friday, January 4, 2008

Martina Hingis and Roger Clemens

Looks like someone or something is going wrong with the world's ability to test for drugs. First, Roger Clemens;

Everyone knows that Clemens was accused of having been injected with steroids, human growth hormone or whatever else can enhance athletic performance by the Mitchell Report. (Would viagra or cialis count?) Jokes aside, he has said it's not true. Now he says that he was injected, but not with steroids.

Roger Clemens admits former trainer Brian McNamee injected him but says it was with the painkiller lidocaine and the vitamin B-12, not any performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee, a former strength coach for the Blue Jays and Yankees, told Mitchell he personally injected Clemens with steroids in 1998 while they were with Toronto, and with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001 while with New York.


Well, also in the news today is a story about Martina Hingis, who was accused of using cocaine during Wimbleton this year. Martina Hingis was banned for two years Friday for testing positive for cocaine at Wimbledon last year. The International Tennis Federation said an independent anti-doping tribunal found that Hingis, who announced her retirement Nov. 1 on the day she revealed the positive test, had committed an offense. The 27-year-old Hingis denied using cocaine, but the tribunal rejected suggestions there were any doubts over her sample. Although the five-time Grand Slam winner is now retired, her suspension is backdated to Oct. 1. The ITF also disqualified Hingis' results from last year's Wimbledon and any subsequent tournaments she played in. She also forfeits any ranking points gained and $129,481 in prize money. Hingis lost 6-4, 6-2 to Laura Granville in the third round at Wimbledon last year.

I dunno what to make of all this, but it reminded me that I watched an interesting show on the History Channel the other night about how Cocaine became illegal. It used to be in soda, like Coca Cola really contained cocaine and was advertised as a Pep or energy drink. (Pepsi, get it?) That's why drug stores used to have "soda" fountains, because you'd go there to get a shot of coca cola! It was in all sorts of medicines. In the 1880s and 1890s apparently the stuff was really common and used quite openly. (The show talks about baseball players snorting it between innings, and fictional superbrain Sherlock Holmes used to inject cocaine!)

So eventually people get crusading and want it stamped out, and to do this they use racism. A lot of Southern states had laws against African Americans drinking, but none of the laws mentioned cocaine because when the laws were enacted, right after the Civil War, no one had heard of it. African Americans used cocaine because it was legal for them to do so, unlike alcohol, and when crusaders wanted cocaine to go away they used the fact that it was widely used by southern blacks as justification.

Now I've heard similar stories about how marijuana became illegal, and I know that the government is doing away with a lot of the mandatory minimum laws it enacted in the 1980s because they were passed with similar racist fears in mind (crack was an inner city "black" drug). Maybe it's time to revisit the nation's policy in general. I hope that if the original reasons for outlawing these is now seen as racist, perhaps now we can look at them with cooler heads. Last year I went through the DARE program for my daughter, who was taking it at school, and it was clear that the police officers giving the program feel that alcohol is a far more dangerous drug than marijuana. And yet, I just noticed that hard alcohol is allowed to advertise on television again (my wife said it's been that way for five years), maybe the illicit drug industry needs better lobbyists...oh hold it, that doesn't make sense, if they legalized them then there wouldn't be illicit drug trade, and we wouldn't need so many millions of dollars to fight the illegal trade of the stuff...hmmmm

Anyhow, the show on the History Channel was great, see it if you can.
Here's the description from their website.
Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way
Derived from South America's coca leaf, cocaine was touted as a cure-all in the late 19th century and was the secret ingredient in many medicines and elixirs such as Coca-Cola. But cocaine's allure quickly diminished as racism entered the picture--the concept of the "cocaine-crazed Negro" even led police to strengthen the caliber of their guns from .32 to .38. We'll see how, though it was outlawed in 1914, its popularity soared in the 1980s and '90s and gave birth to a deadlier form--crack.

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