We're now into the months where the grand tours dominate our imagination and the big question being asked by everyone is will Lance Armstrong race the Tour de France in July?
Pull up a chair and bring the popcorn, because this is the best show in town.
As I write, Armstrong is in trouble with the French anti-doping body (AFLD), not over a failed test, but an issue of protocol.
Give the AFLD a small window of opportunity and the chances are they will place your racing career in the balance.
it's not only Armstrong's racing under threat. This could seriously
derail his stated aim of fighting the good fight against cancer.
Think of the consequences of a ban and you'll soon realise that his global initiative could be dead in the water.
But in the end it was Armstrong who gave the AFLD the excuse they were looking for.
has been tested 24 times prior to this occasion and knows the rule book
inside out, he should know better than to play fast and loose with the
testers - AFLD in particular.
The rule in question states: "The athlete shall remain within direct observation of the
DCO/Chaperone at all times from the point of notification by the
DCO/Chaperone until the completion of the Sample collection procedure."
And while snarky statements on Twitter teasing the drug testers might bring a laugh from his rusted on fans they probably don't help the situation much.
But how do we fix this he-said, she-said problem?
Tensions with the drug testers are not just an Armstrong v AFLD problem, they exist between all athletes and anti-doping bodies.
the moment the balance is skewed in favour of the authorities, they
determine the rules of engagement, but maybe Armstrong, like Floyd Landis before him, is showing us
another way forward by documenting these interactions and responding to
As he rightly said on Twitter, "...but why is Twitter cool?
It's fast. It's direct. And most importantly, it empowers the people.
Never seen anything like it."
Of course that applies to all new
media, so here is a slightly off the wall idea - let's rewrite the
direct observation rule and have it apply to the drug testers while empowering the athletes.
DCO/Chaperone shall remain within direct observation of the athlete at
all times from the point of notification until the completion of the
Sample collection procedure."
Increasingly we live in an always on connected world with many public spaces under surveillance.
we are watched and we watch the watchers, recording everything and each
other via mobile phone, Twitter, blogs, images, video and more.
Many of us who engage fully in social media are, like Armstrong, already living a Truman Show life anyway. Why not step it up to another level and allow athletes to record their conversations and interactions with the drug testers?
They can then publish them to the web almost as fast as the AFLD leaks to the pages of L'Equipe.
many call for privacy and an adherence to a strict cone of silence in
the doping wars, I think it's time for total transparency.
(and other athletes) should be allowed to fully record his interactions
with the drug testers, all in the interests of openess and disclosure.
He's halfway there anyway and it'll make for great drama and entertainment in real time.