Hypocrisy the winner across sporting world


WHEN the world's leading cycling team Sky announced its zero-tolerance policy on doping, it prompted the question: is there such a thing as a partial-tolerance policy?

It seemed a justifiable, if smart alec, inquiry.

However, subsequent developments have proved that yes, there is indeed such a thing, not only in cycling but throughout sport.

In fact, when it comes to standard doubling, sport is in a league of its own.

Fresh from declaring its stance, Sky offloaded a glut of senior staff who were honest enough to admit to decade-old misdemeanours, while Matt White and Stephen Hodge were both hung out to dry by Cycling Australia for similar admissions.

Meanwhile, five years after admitting that he used banned substances to win the 1996 Tour de France, Bjarne Riis remains team owner and manager of Danish UCI ProTour outfit Team Saxo Bank- Tinkoff.

The Tour isn't doing itself many favours and a glance at its official website makes for interesting reading.

While wikipedia's list of winners contains endless "notes", each explaining away assorted drug-related misdemeanours, www.letour.fr has far fewer misgivings.

Riis is still listed as winning in 1996, as are similarly drug- tainted champions Jan Ullrich in 1997 and Marco Pantani in 1998.

Alberto Contador's 2010 win remains despite him being stripped of it earlier this year and, you guessed it, a certain unapologetic, stubborn Texan is still listed as a seven-time winner from 1999 to 2005.

In fact, the only notable omission is the name of original 2006 winner Floyd Landis, whose initial claims started the ball rolling against his fellow American.

However, cycling is hardly Robinson Crusoe when it comes to splitting rules between the proverbial "one" and his eternal rival "the other".

In 2003, Australian cricketing authorities banned Shane Warne for a year for testing positive to a product known to mask steroids, but a couple of years later Pakistani cricketing authorities excused Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif for testing positive to steroids themselves.

This week, not to be outdone, baseball jumped on the hypocrisy bandwagon.

In 2010, 12 years after becoming the first player to hit 70 home runs in a season, Mark McGwire admitted that he'd done so on steroids.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were clearly more interested in the former stat than the latter when they hired him as their hitting coach (presumably Nick D'Arcy missed his interview).

This would have to be the cycling equivalent of GreenEDGE recruiting Lance Armstrong as their endurance advisor.

Uniformity is perhaps the most undesired of attributes in sport which, by definition, seeks out individual brilliance, but only once sporting bodies like the UCI or ICC take a uniform approach to misdemeanours will standards cease to double.