The Human Reasons Why Athletes Who Dope Get Away With It
The logistics of drug testing, and the reliance on the competence and thoroughness of each country’s efforts, makes catching cheaters extra difficult
Last week, we examined reasons why the very nature of drug testing technology — which cannot eliminate false positives and false negatives at the same time — means it will never be a perfect mechanism for catching cheaters. This may come as no big to surprise to anyone who remembers the famous Nike commercial featuring video of Lance Armstrong taking a drug test. “What am I on?” Armstrong asks rhetorically. “I’m on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day.” He was also on a raft of drugs, yet passed hundreds of tests. Certainly, testing technologically has progressed since then and will continue to do so. But even if technological holes are closed, logistical loopholes may remain. Here are four holes large enough for Lance to ride a bike through:

1. The Dog Was Eating My Homework...While My Doorbell Was Broken

When athletes take small doses of synthetic hormones, the window during which they might fail a test is very short — often just hours. So it’s critical that athletes don’t know when the tests will occur. To facilitate year-round, unannounced testing of a limited number of top athletes, the World Anti-Doping Agency calls for “whereabouts requirements.” Beginning in 2009, potential Olympians had to fill out forms letting anti-doping authorities know where they would be for at least one hour each day — between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. — for the next few months. (An athlete’s whereabouts calendar can be altered, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency even has a mobile whereabouts app.) Still, athletes can miss three tests in 12 months before they face a sanction. It’s only fair to give some wiggle room — any idea where you’ll be three Tuesdays from now? — but it means athletes can sometimes avoid the testers by claiming to have stepped out briefly or that they didn’t hear the doorbell. Or, as retired professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton — and admitted former doper — once succinctly summarized a low-tech method of chicanery: “We hid.” 

2. Testing Infrastructure? What Testing Infrastructure?

The World Anti-Doping Agency itself is not — as is commonly misunderstood — set up to drug test athletes around the world. WADA was launched just before the turn of the millennium to coordinate anti-doping efforts and rules around the world. The agency conducts research to better detect ever-more advanced doping, accredits labs that want to become certified for drug testing (and strips accreditations if labs don’t maintain certain standards), and keeps the World Anti-Doping Code. The Code, includes the list of banned substances and the methods and rules for how anti-doping efforts should be conducted by sports federations and countries. It was implemented before the 2004 Olympics and has been updated several times. So WADA simply keeps the Code; it’s up to the Olympic committees, national and international sports federations, and anti-doping bodies in each individual country to actually implement it. Typically glacial bureaucratic movement has ensued. In one prominent instance, Renee Anne Shirley, former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, pointed out that limited staff and expired testing kits led to a total halt to JADCO’s out-of-competition testing in the three months before the 2012 London Olympics. (Athletes were still subject to testing by international governing bodies.) Implementing agreed upon anti-doping practices is still a fairly new and definitely evolving venture for plenty of countries and sports organizations, and it’s still a global patchwork. 

3. TUE

It’s an abbreviation for “Tuesday” to you, but any athlete who sees those letters immediately thinks “therapeutic use exemption.” Athletes have to be allowed to care for their health, and the TUE system allows them to apply for permission to use substances or medical procedures that would normally be restricted, ranging from corticosteroids and stimulants to IVs. The trouble is that any process by which athletes can gain permission to use potentially performance enhancing drugs also provides a possible anti-doping loophole. Perhaps the most stunning recent TUE revelation was that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was actually given permission at one point to use synthetic testosterone, and then to use the drug clomiphene citrate, meant to boost testosterone in men who are not producing enough naturally. The Ultimate Fighting Championship also gave out a rash of exemptions for testosterone, with most athletes claiming they needed it because they had low testosterone for their age. In Olympic sports, an exemption for testosterone would be extraordinarily hard to come by. Simply low testosterone levels do not suffice; a rare condition — like being born without testicles or having them removed — would have to be present. But the prevalence of certain medications among athletes — like corticosteroids, both injected for pain and inhaled for asthma — has led some of the pros themselves to call for removal of the TUE process altogether, so that there would be no exemptions for otherwise restricted medication. As American distance runner Ben True recently put it: “I have a hard time with the idea that if you’re that sick and need certain drugs that you’re able to be at the top of the sport and race at the highest level. Maybe you just need to go home and rest and recover for a while.”

4. Henhouse, Meet Fox

Officials at IAAF — track and field’s international governing body — were understandably a tad defensive after a recent report by London’s Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD that a review of 12,000 leaked biological passport tests for track athletes from 2001 to 2012 found that around 15 percent of them were doping. The governing body has a lot to lose from the perception that cheating is rife and that many athletes get away with it. It falls in line with a host of recent scandals in pro sports in which the agency charged with rooting out cheaters was unsurprisingly “surprised.” You didn’t expect Sepp Blatter to lead the charge against corruption in World Cup soccer, did you? Or the UCI — cycling’s governing body — to take down Lance Armstrong? Of course you didn’t, just like you didn’t expect Major League Baseball to interrupt the steroid-fueled home run chase — which propelled baseball back to relevance after a devastating strike — in order to bring you an important message about performance enhancing drugs… Continue Reading…
Courtesy: ProPublica


Top Tobacco Bond Banker Departs Barclays
Kym Arnone handled more than $40 billion in deals in which states and other governments borrowed against income from the landmark tobacco legal settlement of 1998
The go-to dealmaker in the market for tobacco bonds is gone from her post – a surprise departure that raises questions about the future direction of a once-burgeoning corner of Wall Street.
Kym S. Arnone, a senior banker who, by her own count, helped engineer more than $40 billion of tobacco bond deals, is no longer with Barclays Capital, a bank spokesman confirmed last week. 
The reasons for Arnone’s departure are unclear. Some clients contacted by Barclays said they had been told the separation was “mutually agreeable” but not whether Arnone was joining a competitor. Bankers at competing firms also told ProPublica they were not aware if she had been hired elsewhere. Arnone did not respond to calls and emails, and the Barclays spokesman would not provide details. 
Tobacco bonds had been a hot segment of the $3.6 trillion market for municipal government debt. A 1998 legal settlement with cigarette manufacturers created demand for bonds, which netted upfront cash for state and local governments that were promised billions of dollars in future payments to compensate them for health-related costs of smoking.
As ProPublica reported, tobacco bonds were a booming business from 2005 to 2008, when bankers like Arnone persuaded dozens of settlement recipients to borrow against their cut of the accord, sometimes for pennies on the dollar. These days, few new deals are coming to market. The most recent, a $750 million Louisiana transaction we wrote about in April, failed to get state legislators’ approval.
Instead, governments have been retooling past tobacco bond issues that are heading for default thanks to bankers’ use of a risky form of borrowing known as capital appreciation bonds, or CABs. These bonds typically carry higher interest rates and require big balloon payments, often decades in the future. 
Last year, Arnone engineered a bailout of two such bonds sold by New Jersey. As we reported, a hedge fund cleared a $100 million profit on its holdings of the rescued bonds, which were expected to default. 
New Jersey officials said the rescue was a good deal for taxpayers even though the state had to pledge about $400 million more of its future tobacco settlement money to prop up the bonds. They were part of a larger tobacco bond issue that Arnone handled for the state back in 2007. 
Since October 2014, Arnone has served as chair of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, the industry’s self-regulator. A spokeswoman for the MSRB said Arnone would continue to serve out her term as chair of the MSRB’s board until her term expires on Sept. 30. As chair, Arnone is paid $80,000.
Courtesy: ProPublica


US FDA: Where's the Mayo in Just Mayo?
My oh mayo. Class action against eggless vegan spread resurfaces allegations of false advertising
My oh mayo. What ingredients does mayonnaise have to have to be considered real mayonnaise? 
The FDA has an answer for that and has issued a warning letter to Hampton Creek for its Just Mayo brand.
In its August letter to the company, the FDA, among other issues, said the product does not qualify as mayonnaise, since it doesn’t contain eggs, and its name and imagery of an egg used on the label is misleading. The product, said the FDA, also contains additional ingredients not permitted in mayonnaise.
The agency also warned the company that its “cholesterol free” claim and implied heart health claims are not substantiated because of the levels of fat in the product.
Hampton Creek is also facing a complaint brought by Unilever, the food giant and maker of Hellmann’s, which filed a lawsuit last October against the company. The suit contended that Hampton Creek falsely advertises Just Mayo as mayonnaise because it does not contain any eggs.
Also, a class-action lawsuit alleges: “Despite its name, Just Mayo does not contain mayonnaise and is not mayonnaise at all.”
Unilever withdrew its lawsuit in December amid counter allegations over inaccurate mayonnaise advertising on its own website.
The class action, however, takes up Hellmann’s previous arguments that the FDA defines mayonnaise as a product that contains eggs and that without eggs, Just Mayo “does not perform like real mayonnaise when it is heated.” The class action also alleges false labeling via the prominent image of an egg on the Just Mayo jar.
When Unilever withdrew its suit, the company said it decided to pull the complaint “so that Hampton Creek can address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities.” At the time, Hampton Creek CEO Josh
Tetrick told that there were no plans to change labeling, adding that he understood the FDA’s definition for mayonnaise and that’s in part why the spread is named Just Mayo.
The class action notes that the word “mayonnaise” has recently been removed from a section of the company’s website that used to state:
Just Mayo is an outrageously delicious mayonnaise that’s better for your body, for your wallet, and for the planet. It’s a piece of the philosophy to make the good thing a little easier.
The suit seeks monetary damages in excess of $5 million for consumers who bought Just Mayo thinking that it met the FDA’s definition of mayonnaise, insomuch as it contained eggs.
In the meantime, if you find yourself shopping for mayonnaise soon, you might want to check the label to see whether the product is the FDA-definition kind of mayo, or the vegan kind. After all, you don’t want to get yoked into buying something you don’t want.
Click here for more of our coverage on sandwich-related products.
This story was originally published in November 2014 and updated. 


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