Tammy Thomas plead not guilty to the BALCO grand jury, on Friday. She was charged with perjury. We covered her story in the past (link here).
Thanks to sharp witted journalists, her photo at the court date, appeared on Yahoo. The nation commented yesterday we thought she looks good. We stand by our impression, but the Nation loves athletic women.
Consider, however this story below, and photo from about 5 years ago, when Ms Thomas was banned for life from cycling. Note the changes.
In her current photo, I see a slender, attractive, woman. Look at the close-up from 2002, at which time Ms. Thomas expressed an anabolic androgen in her urine. The photo looks like an androgenized female. Rugged looks. Male pattern hairline (baldness).
The Nation asks if the current pressure to perform at an elite level, is so intense, that a person will expose themselves to dangerous drugs and substances, to the point of assuming characteristics of the opposite gender? Or to the point of cardiac hypertrophy? Apparently yes.
The Nation wishes Ms. Thomas were not embroiled in a trial; her attorney will likely forbid her from telling her story. Perhaps the court would be satisfied if an athlete like Tammy Thomas revealed her true story, including the consequences of the anabolic use. That would provide much more public good than other consequences she could suffer.
This story is from Velo, News, and written by Charles Pelkey.
When Tammy Thomas learned that she had been banned from cycling for life, she packed up her things, moved out of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and went back home to Yazoo, Mississippi. What the star track sprinter left behind, however, were a number of questions about how national and international governing bodies deal with issues of doping and, above all, fairness.
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Examiners from the U.S. Anti-doping Agency arrived at a U.S. team training camp in March of this year to conduct out-of-competition tests. A sample provided by Thomas tested positive for the anabolic norbolethone, a drug that promotes rapid muscle growth. Remarkably the drug had been pulled from clinical trials by the FDA in the 1970s because of its toxicity. Thomas had already tested positive and was subsequently suspended for elevated testosterone levels during the 2000 Olympic trials.
The German federation sought to negate Thomas’s point contribution, but UCI rules contain no provision allowing points earned after a positive test, but before a penalty is imposed, to be withdrawn.
Indeed, U.S. rules contain no provision to allow Thomas’s elite 200-meter sprint record to be withdrawn, despite the fact that she established it just two weeks before receiving that lifetime ban from the sport.
“It’s not a good note to end the season on,” acknowledged U.S. track coach Des Dickey. “Really all we can say is that she was tested at every event in which she participated this year and she turned up negative. The UCI rulings support our belief that the World Cup results should stand.”
USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia issued a strongly worded statement applauding USADA’s decision to ban Thomas for life, but he, too, was reluctant to see her season-long contribution ignored.
“It does raise a question,” Bisceglia conceded, “but what does that do to the contributions of the other members of the team? Should they also be penalized for her actions?”
Dickey contends that the U.S. squad would probably have been able to maintain its margin over Germany even without Thomas’s participation.
“Her being there meant that Jeannie Reed or Sarah Uhl were not,” he said. “If she hadn’t have been there we would have relied on their talent instead.”
But Reed and Uhl weren't there. Tammy Thomas was. The points were “earned” by a rider later banned for life on the grounds that she used a dangerous a drug that promotes rapid muscle growth immediately prior to her participation in the 2002 World Cup.
Thomas, meanwhile, has told friends she plans to appeal her case to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Failing that, she is considering switching sports and a possible future in power lifting, where the USADA ban will not have an impact.
American cycling, however, is left to awkwardly dance around a glaring ethical contradiction. To remain consistent, the U.S. should forego the 2002 World Cup title and stand by the principles it espouses. The long-term rewards will be much greater.