Wednesday, December 31, 2008

USADA 60 MInute Window

One of the new USADA Whereabouts Filing requirements for athletes (like me) who are members of the out of competition testing pool is the "60-minute time slot". Athletes in the Registered Testing Pool must submit a 60-minute time slot for each day in the quarter between the times of 6 am-11pm. Yes, for every day for next quarter I've had to specify a 60-minute period during which USADA can always find me. I'd rather have an RFT or microchip implanted under the skin at the back of my neck than have to keep this 60min slot current.

Also of interest is the fact that, when locating an athlete for testing, the Doping Control Officer (DCO) will make a reasonable attempt based on the information given for each day. As of January 2009, DCOs will NOT make phone calls, in accordance with the International Standards of Testing.


"A true friend is a priceless gift. When we reveal our hopes, our dreams, and our deepest secrets to others, and they still like and respect us, such people are to be cherished.

All too often, the only reason others wish to spend time with us-to be our friends-is because of what they perceive we can do for them, not the other way around. A real friendship is reciprocal, one in which each friend benefits equally. You can earn the friendship of others by being the kind of person who deserves respect from friends. When others look up to you, it should make you even more conscious of the responsibility you have to treat them with the same respect you would like them to afford you."

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Visit them at

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trust But Verify - The Winnowing

TBV writes:

"When we decided to roll up the tent at the end of the month, we thought it would be good to have some final thoughts on the matter, and not just from us.

To that end, we've contacted a number of people from all sides of the discussion, and asked them if they had anything they'd like to say. Some said yes, some said no, some hoped to participate but found they could not, and some didn't answer in time for us to include. We regret the submissions fall towards one side of the debate. We did try to send a balanced set of invitations, but response is beyond our control..."

I responded, and my thoughts on the matter appear here.

Snapped by the Papparazi

Sunday, December 28, 2008


1. A person who seeks to dictate or control the behavior of others in the name of the environment, and who denies the validity of viewpoints that contradict those of the green lobby.

2. One who argues for the subordination of individual self-interest to the interests of the environment or the green lobby.

ex1: The envirofascist argued that the gasoline-powered car owner's individual property rights should be invalidated in the interests of a national environmental policy that mandated the use of hybrid vehicles.

ex2: The envirofascists chanted, "All within the environment, nothing outside the environment, nothing against the environment."

Related to: ecofascism.
Now recognized by:

Envirofascists are Killing Motorsports

Motorsports is under attack headline #1: Honda quits F1
Motorsports is under attack headline #2: Subaru abandons WRC

I hope that we don't see a massive pan-industry withdrawal from motorsports as a result of cost-cutting moves taken for the benefit of 'effective' PR in the age of the gov't bailout.

Despite the positive returns delivered by motorsports participation in such areas as technical development and brand enhancement, even those manufacturers that can afford to stay in racing (like Ferrari) may feel pressured to curtail sponsorship or withdraw completely (like Subaru or Honda) so that the "public," the mainstream media and now, unfortunately, the federal government, don't accuse them of insufficient "belt-tightening."

I fear for the automobile in this country if the envirofascists get their way and are able to dictate the production of vehicles that no one wants to buy, but which are forced upon us in the name of saving the environment...

So in addition to stocking up on guns and ammo, one might want to consider squirreling-away a V12 or bi-turbo or even a Geländewagen before we're all forced to buy battery-operated "cars."

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Save Formula 1

Formula One is a sport in which teams have been spending up to £180m a year on engines and one gearbox can cost £9m (Source: BBC).

Just like the US auto industry, AIG and American Express (which, with CIT, received approval to get $5.72 billion under the US government's financial bailout program on Tuesday) Formula 1 needs a public subsidy to survive.

Ignore Martin Brundle's eight-point plan to save this most beautiful, legendary form of motor-racing - the sport is facing extinction because of a dearth of sponsorship dollars in the wake of the global economic collapse, and as such, should have no qualms about asking Her Majesty's Government for support.

After all, if Britain will bail out Jaguar and Land Rover, why not Bernie Ecclestone?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Textmas

Thanks for all of the "Merry Textmas's" today, friends. I love you ALL! Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas

Chad Vader has already reached out to you with a safe, non-offensive holiday greeting? Ok, fine. Then all I can say is this:

Please Have a Merry Christmas, from me and my family, who will be celebrating today in the Catholic, North American style.

And may you receive everything you'd wished for, even if it was simply a case of Pilsner Urquell.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Feliz Navidad

My brother David flew in from Boston today, and we decided to trim-up a nice Frazier Fir and turn it into an old-school classic Christmas Tree with serious vintage glass ornaments, garland and tinsel.

David working his magic to thread the needle.

Goofing around and hamming for the Volpe Self-Portrait.

A Few Final Threads of Tinsel ...

Yield a tree that is a delight to behold, made classic and classier by the vintage, hand-made European glass bulbs - especially the "Star," which came from Czechoslovakia.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Destroyer - Robert Mugabe and the destruction of Zimbabwe

Thanks to Jim for posting a link to this article in the comments section on the previous Zimbabwe-related item. If you have the time, it's well worth the read:

The Destroyer - Robert Mugabe and the destruction of Zimbabwe

by Jon Lee Anderson
October 27, 2008

"Nine hundred years ago, at a site on a high plateau north of the Limpopo River called Great Zimbabwe, Shona kings built stone palaces where they lived in splendid isolation from their subjects, with absolute authority over their means to sustain life—cattle herds, land, and the gold that came out of the earth. In the nineteen-sixties, members of a liberation movement in what was then Rhodesia, among them Robert Mugabe, adopted Great Zimbabwe’s name to refer to the notional state they were fighting for. Today, Mugabe can be said to be the owner of the riches that remain in the nation of Zimbabwe. After twenty-eight years, he remains in power––Zimbabwe’s only President since the end of whiteminority rule, in 1980. His nephew Leo, therefore, leads a cushioned life. He is an entrepreneur and has stakes in several companies, among them a mobile-phone network. He is a director of Zimbabwe Defense Industries, which purchases the weaponry for his uncle’s Army—most of it, these days, from China. He also controls at least one large farm that had been seized from its white owners. In the nineties, Leo earned notoriety for his alleged role in securing kickbacks, on behalf of his uncle and other officials, in the construction of Harare International Airport. In 2005, he was arrested for the contraband export and sale of government-owned food, but the charges were withdrawn for lack of evidence. (Leo said the allegations in both cases were unfounded.) That year, he was a candidate for Parliament for the Zimbabwe African National UnionPatriotic Front, known as ZANU-P.F., the ruling party. He won in a landslide..." More

Friday, December 19, 2008

$10 billion - and space still in your wallet for an Advantage card

I hate what Robert Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe, the once-proud former British colony of Rhodesia. He represents everything that is wrong with southern Africa, and his continued existence as "President" serves only to highlight the cowardice of South Africa's leadership, and that of the international bodies that allow him to cling to power while a cholera epidemic sweeps across the country, starvation is rampant and inflation in November topped...

89.7 Sextillion Percent.

The Mugabe regime is composed of utter scumbags, but I give them credit for having the balls to explain the cholera epidemic by "announcing that there is no epidemic, and if there were, it is a "chemical biological warfare" launched by Britain against its former colony."

Give a special tip of the hat to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, who explained the introduction of a new Zimbabwean $10 billion note for the "convenience of the public ahead of the festive season."

For more background on the current horror that has enveloped Zimbabwe, I strongly recommend The Economist.

la Virgen de Guadalupe

I didn't have a chance to mention this last week, but I went to mass at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland last Friday for the feast of la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Wikipedia explains, "Our Lady of Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe or Virgen de Guadalupe) is a 16th century Roman Catholic icon from Mexico representing a Marian apparition. It is perhaps Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day is celebrated on 12 December, commemorating the account of her appearances to Saint Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from 9 through 12 December 1531."

Well, even to this lost-sheep the service was amazing. The Post-Gazette did an ok job covering it, and I reprint their article in full:

"Anyone near St. Paul Cathedral knew that last night was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A mariachi band played on the steps before Mass, drawing a crowd on the Oakland street.

The statue of the Virgin was carried into the cathedral on a litter decorated with paper roses. It was placed on a stand surrounded with tiny white lights that appeared to radiate from her image.

The Mass was sponsored by St. Regis Parish in Oakland and the Latino Catholic Community, which meets at St. Regis. About 1,000 people attended, some in brilliantly embroidered clothing of their native lands. There were also the regular evening Mass-goers of St. Paul and students whose teachers had sent them to learn about Latino culture.

Rebeca Dosal, who moved to Shadyside from Mexico, was delighted with the turnout for the first Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe ever held in Pittsburgh's cathedral.

"Having this festival here is like a dream," she said. "Everyone will be able to know how much love we have for Our Lady of Guadalupe."

That devotion dates to 1531 in Mexico. An Aztec convert to Christianity, Juan Diego, is said to have seen a woman with dark skin, surrounded by brilliant light, who identified herself as Mary.

She told Juan Diego to ask the bishop to build a church for her, but the bishop did not believe Juan Diego. So Mary made roses bloom in December, and told Juan Diego to gather them in his cloak and carry them to the bishop. When he spread his cloak filled with roses before the bishop, it was imprinted with a vivid image of Mary as a pregnant Indian woman.

Last night Bishop David Zubik preached in Spanish, illustrating the stories of the angel's announcement to Mary and Mary's appearance to Juan Diego with a line from comedienne Gracie Allen.

"In the show, she is trying to encourage her husband to be a man of hope. So she tells him, 'Never put a period where God intends a comma,'" Bishop Zubik said.

"I'm asking people to look at the situations in our own lives that we need to surrender to God, and to believe that we should not put a period where God intends a comma."

In Mexico, 15 million people go to the Basilica of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. Hundreds of thousands celebrate in U.S. cities with large Mexican-American communities.

Pittsburgh's celebrations are modest, but growing. Anglo members of St. Regis pitched in, ushering and learning Spanish songs to join the choir. Devotion is spreading far beyond those with ties to Mexico, said the Rev. Daniele Vallecorsa, pastor of St. Regis and chaplain to the Latino Catholic Community.

In 1946, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of the Americas. Many Catholic anti-abortion activists have developed a devotion to her because she appears pregnant, Father Vallecorsa said. Latinos who come to the United States from Central and South America learn the devotion from Mexican immigrants here, he said.

Bishop Zubik, who had a large Latino population in his previous diocese, was eager to celebrate Guadalupe here.

"It's a necessity to recognize that we are indeed a culture that is a fabric of lots of different cultures. That is what Pittsburgh was built on. This focuses on the immigrants coming to Pittsburgh in this century," he said.

Ann Rodgers can be reached at or 412-263-1416.
First published on December 13, 2007 at 12:00 am

Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

(Yo sé donde estaré esta noche a las 19:00horas!)

"We cordially invite You and your Guest to join us
for some tapas, wine, and fellowship
as we celebrate the accomplishments of 2008 and
welcome a successful 2009!"

Friday, December 19, 2008
6:00 – 10:00 PM
131 7th Street, Downtown Pittsburgh
Next to Bossa Nova

RSVP by December 12

Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
6 Loop St Ste 4 ● Pittsburgh PA 15215-3248
(412) 784-1355 ● ●

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rectitude Chic - The first Christmas in the age of restraint.

Discuss amongst yourselves...

"..For a generation we've been tapping on plastic keyboards, entering data into databases, inventing financial instruments that are abstract, complex and unconnected to any seeable reality. Fortunes were made in the ether, almost no one knows how; there's a sense that this was perhaps part of the problem. Workers tapped on keyboards and produced work they cannot see, touch or necessarily admire. They'd like to make their country better, and stronger, in a way they can see.

And people want to belong to something. If you're a vibrant member of a church in America, or a casual member of a vibrant church, you're part of something. If you're a member of a family that's together, you are part of something. A lot of Americans do not have these two things.

Some of the infrastructure ideas put forward are obvious and fine: rebuild roads and bridges. One is unexpected and smart: strengthen the electrical grid. One is so lame as to seem a non sequitur: make sure every classroom has the Internet. In America, you don't have to worry that kids won't go online, you have to worry the minute they do. The Internet is not a gifted teacher, but only another limited resource. There is no sign, none, that the Internet has made our nation more literate, or deep, and many signs it has made us less so, u no?..."

by Peggy Noonan

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ya basta

ya basta

*I raced cleanly from 1989-July 2001.

*After July 2001, I doped intermittently but consistently (on a macro-level; i.e., season-to-season).

*I created my own logic to justify doping.

*I'm genuinely sorry for the negative effect that my cheating has had on the sport of cycling (in general) and the particular "clean" riders I finished ahead of in those competitions in which I was doped.

*I'm also sorry for having disappointed friends, family, fellow competitors, the country I represented internationally (USA), and the public in general.

*I've tried to make practical amends in three ways:
1. Admitting to the relevant authorities the full-scope of my doping.
2. Admitting to the relevant authorities the full-breadth of my knowledge of all aspects of systematic doping in the peloton in general, and on the teams that I was a part of in particular.
3. Speaking honestly and openly about what the topography of the moment was that facilitated my entry into the culture of doping; what the short-term benefits were; and what the profound long-term costs have been (and continue to be).

That's it. At this point, I'm not going to walk the entire length of the Morgul-Bismarck circuit while self-flagellating, because it's not practical and besides, it doesn't compare to the suffering I've already dealt myself (as much as that may disappoint some). But make no mistake about it, if I could turn back the clock, I would never have doped.

And that's the lesson to learn going forward for other athletes who might be faced with the same choices that I erred in resolving.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

"academic bulemia" - Urban Word of the Day

December 8: academic bulemia

The process of learning or memorizing by rote, subsequently followed by the regurgitation of that knowledge onto an exam answer sheet. Just as with the serious eating disorder, this form of bulemia results in no real retention of substance.

This term is frequently applied to describe a common practice of young medical students.

I can't remember anything that I learned last night. It's like I grabbed the answer sheet, puked out all the answers and forgot everything immediately. I'd say that's academic bulemia.

comment on this definition

Danek Family Passport, circa 1948

Danek Family Passport

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Piracy on the High Seas

I've been following with interest the increasingly bold acts of high seas piracy taking place in the Indian Ocean off the African coast. While the capture of the Ukrainian-operated MV Faina in September was noteworthy for the loss of a cargo that included Soviet T-72 battle tanks, the taking last month of a Saudi oil tanker with a capacity of 2m barrels (more than one-quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily output) begs the question, "Have the navies of the world become a bunch of wussies?"
Apparently I'm not the only one to wonder what the complex calculus is that is preventing shipping companies and foreign navies from repelling RPG-armed islamofascistcapitalistpirates in dinghies.

Andrew P. Morriss recently wrote to the Wall Street Journal:

"Your story on the growing numbers of pirates operating off the horn of Africa concludes that piracy is "raising complex questions" and that "America would be ill-advised to act unilaterally against the pirates." Nonsense. Piracy raises but one question: What is the most effective means of stopping it? The answer to that question has been known since a group of pirates made the mistake of kidnapping the young Julius Caesar. After Caesar had been ransomed, he raised a force of men and captured the pirates. According to Plutarch, the local authorities were unable to decide what to do with the pirates, most likely because they were pondering various complex questions and worrying about acting unilaterally. Impatient with such dithering, Caesar "went off to Pergamus, where he ordered the pirates to be brought forth and crucified; the punishment he had often threatened them with whilst he was in their hands, and they little dreamt he was in earnest." Pirate problem solved."

Andrew P. Morriss
Institute for Government and Public Affairs
University of Illinois
Champaign, Ill.

source: The Wall Street Journal online

Piracy Media Coverage

Battlestar Galactica

"the shit out of" - Urban Word of the Day

December 7: the shit out of

An adverb meaning something happened to a great extent. If somebody (verb)ed the shit out of (object), it means that person REALLY (verb)ed that (object) hardcore.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the shit out of the New York Yankees last night. The score was 15-2!

Rachael Ray really baked the shit out of that pie. That motherfucker was tasty as hell!

Haley Joel Osment really saw the shit out of those dead people in "The Sixth Sense."

Rosie O'Donnell devoured the shit out of that two-pound burger, then proceeded to wolf down an entire cheesecake.

Gmail Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Procrastination Isn't Always Bad

A long-lost friend was apparently procrastinating today (and seemingly still is), reading my blog as a distraction from whatever work it is that she's trying to avoid doing. Long story short, she procrastinated enough that she wrote me an email, I was happy to hear from her, now we're back in touch and life is good - at least until I venture out in the snow to get dinner.

Oh wait! I have an Audi Quattro. Doesn't that convey an unfair advantage?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Leogrande doping case proof of cultural shift

This image, showing Kayle Leogrande holding performance enhancing drugs, was presented as evidence of his doping.By Alan Abrahamson / Universal Sports

Dick Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has said many times that the real measure of progress in the campaign against performance-enhancing drugs will be revealed when we see a distinct change in the culture of sports.

That is, the notion of doping is seen not just by athletes but by coaches and support staff as so unacceptable that even those in that inner circle do the right thing.

They report outright misconduct. They report even suspicious conduct.

An arbitration ruling issued this week -- full of details of what it can be like behind the scenes in professional cycling -- offers reason to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, such a cultural shift need not be the stuff of fantasy.

Maybe it really can happen.

A three-member arbitration panel on Monday unanimously found American rider Kayle Leogrande liable of doping, ordering a two-year suspension.

The decision was little noticed outside of cycling circles. Make no mistake, however. The Leogrande case is a significant ruling indeed.

Those accused of doping typically adopt the same signature strategy: deny, deny, deny. It takes someone who knows the truth to speak the truth.

The case against Leogrande, now 31, was made through what in legal jargon is called a "non-analytical positive" result -- the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency building the case through witnesses, documents, photos and other evidence.

Leogrande did not fail a doping test.

An August 2006 test suggested doping but for technical reasons was not ruled a positive. That test, however, helped put Leogrande on authorities' radar.

Leogrande raced in Wisconsin in July 2007. A July 26, 2007, sample -- not positive. A July 28 sample -- not positive.

In cycling, a "soigneur" is an assistant who does all the sorts of stuff that, say, the manager on a college basketball team takes up, and more: food, laundry, massage, errands, whatever. For the Rock Racing team in Wisconsin in July 2007, the place to hang out when there was downtime was soigneur Suzanne Sonye's room at a Milwaukee EconoLodge hotel, where "there was food and always an open door."

In her hotel room during the week of July 15, according to arbitrators, Leogrande asked Sonye if she knew where to obtain testosterone patches. Testosterone is a banned substance.

He told her, according to the ruling, that he had used testosterone gel but wanted patches because he thought they would work better. I don't know, she said. Maybe in Mexico.

The day after he had been selected for the July 26 doping test, Leogrande told Sonye, according to arbitrators, he hadn't slept well. He was "nervous" because of the test.

She said, why?

He told her, according to the decision, he had taken "vicadin, ventalin and EPO" and "admitted to her that he had recently taken EPO." He made a motion with his hand "as if holding a syringe and pretended to stick a needle into his arm."

Sonye told Leogrande he would test positive. He said he had put soap on his wrist before entering doping control and while providing his sample had put some of the soap into his urine stream, thinking the soap would "f--- up the test."

The next day, "after agonizing about what to do," Sonye went to the team's chief mechanic, Jordan Schware, and told him Leogrande had "confessed doping to her." The mechanic suggested she call the team's sports director, Frankie Andreu. She did so, calling Andreu, who was in Europe, from Schware's cell phone; Andreu told her she had "done the right thing" and said he "would take care of it."

After coming back to the United States, Andreu and Leogrande talked, Leogrande saying he "had made a mistake, he regretted it, it was a stupid thing to do, he had let the team down." That led to multiple conversations with management. "No one within the Rock Racing management questioned whether [Leogrande] had used EPO. The only debate was what to do about it," according to arbitrators. Ultimately, he would keep racing.

Meanwhile, sometime that next month, Sonye called USADA to report Leogrande's "admission of doping," according to the decision.

At the arbitration hearing, which ran for two days last month in Los Angeles, USADA also provided photos of Leogrande holding synthetic EPO vials, along with a UPS notecard from its Upland, Calif., location with this note in what arbitrators would later say appeared to be Leogrande's distinctive handwriting: "Joe, 2 boxes G. 100 iu; 7 boxes E. 60,000; $500. I owed you! Thanks, Kayle."

"E," arbitrators would explain, appears to denote EPO, "G" human growth hormone. Both are banned substances.

At the time, Leogrande lived in Upland. "Joe" is Joe Papp, a former rider who testified for USADA last year against Floyd Landis. Papp has acknowledged doping and testified in the Landis case about the ways synthetic testosterone helped him recover.

At the hearing, USADA also introduced Papp's cell phone records -- showing 274 calls and text messages between Papp and Leogrande between July 2006 and July 2007.

This image, showing Kayle Leogrande holding performance enhancing drugs, was presented as evidence of his doping.With regard to the photos of him holding vials of EPO, Leogrande testified that Papp was showing him -- Leogrande -- a box of vials with liquid that Papp identified as EPO, maintaining further that Papp took the photos without Leogrande's knowledge.

Leogrande testified that he did not put soap on his wrist.

He denied telling Andreu about being sorry.

He said he had no knowledge of the UPS card. He denied the signature was his.

He also, and this is where his credibility before the arbitrators eroded significantly, testified that he had never heard of ventalin, did not have an inhaler nor had ever had one. Ventalin is a name for an inhaler of albuterol.

On cross-examination, Leogrande was shown that he had disclosed the use of albuterol on his doping control forms on July 26 and July 28. His response: he had not completed that part of the form -- the doping control officer must have included that information. When it was pointed out that he had signed the form, he "then recalled that he had a puffer/inhaler" but did not know the name of the product.

The panel would later say that Leogrande "did not recall important events and conversations when it would have been very helpful for him to do so." In contrast, Sonye "did not deviate from the very first instance of her reporting of Leogrande's admissions." She "had nothing to gain by reporting his admissions and a lot to lose, but nevertheless persisted."

"I'm proud of her," Andreu said in a telephone interview. "Being able to stand up and go through the stuff she went through ... she didn't back down."

Leogrande's attorney, Howard Jacobs, declined to comment. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said, "It's not easy to come forward. But this case clearly demonstrates it's the right thing to do. And it's worthwhile to do so."

**This article originally appears here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Georgia Acted in Self-Defense

Some people seem to misunderstand which country was invaded.

Originally published at

Since Russia invaded Georgia last August, the international community seems stuck on one question about how the war started: Did the Georgian military act irresponsibly to take control of Tskhinvali in the South Ossetia region of Georgia?

This question has been pushed to the center in large degree by a fierce, multimillion-dollar Russian PR campaign that hinges on leaked, very partial, and misleading reports from a military observer from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that claimed Georgia responded militarily in South Ossetia without sufficient provocation by Russia. Judging from recent media coverage, this campaign has been successful.

Focusing on this question distracts from Russia's intense, blatant policy of regime change that has long aimed to destabilize Georgia through ethnic manipulation, and thus thwart our democracy while stopping NATO's expansion. Furthermore, it has never been in dispute whether our forces entered South Ossetia. I have always openly acknowledged that I ordered military action in South Ossetia -- as any responsible democratic leader would have done, and as the Georgian Constitution required me to do in defense of the country.

I made this decision after being confronted by two facts. First, Russia had massed hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers on the border between Russian and Georgia in the area of South Ossetia. We had firm intelligence that they were crossing into Georgia, a fact later confirmed by telephone intercepts verified by the New York Times and others -- and a fact never substantially denied by Russia. (We had alerted the international community both about the military deployment and an inflow of mercenaries early on Aug. 7.)

Second, for a week Russian forces and their proxies engaged in a series of deadly provocations, shelling Georgian villages that were under my government's control -- with much of the artillery located in Tskhinvali, often within sites controlled by Russian peacekeepers. Then, on Aug. 7, Russia and its proxies killed several Georgian peacekeepers. Russian peacekeepers and OSCE observers admitted that they were incapable of preventing the lethal attacks. In fact, the OSCE had proven impotent in preventing the Russians from building two illegal military bases inside South Ossetia during the preceding year.

So the question is not whether Georgia ordered military action -- including targeting of the artillery sites that were shelling villages controlled by our government. We did.

The question is, rather: What democratic polity would have acted any differently while its citizens were being slaughtered as its sovereign territory was being invaded? South Ossetia and Abkhazia are internationally recognized as part of Georgia, and even some areas within these conflict zones were under Georgian government control before the Russian invasion. We fought to repel a foreign invasion. Georgians never stepped beyond Georgian territory.

My government has urged the international community to open an independent, unbiased investigation into the origins of the war. I first proposed this on Aug. 17, standing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tbilisi. I offered to make every shred of evidence and every witness available. Russia has yet to accede to such terms of inquiry.

Also, last Friday I stood for several hours before a commission established by the Georgian Parliament, chaired by a leader of an opposition party, to investigate the conduct of the war. This is the first time that any leader from this part of the world has been scrutinized live on national television for his or her wartime decisions by a legislative investigation. I have also required every member of my administration and military to make themselves available to the committee.

The real test of the legitimacy of Russia's actions should be based not on whether Georgia's democratically elected leadership came to the defense of its own people on its own land, but on an assessment of the following questions. Was it Georgia or Russia (and its proxies) that:

- Pursued the de facto annexation of the sovereign territory of a neighboring state?

- Illegally issued passports to residents of a neighboring democracy in order to create a pretext for invasion (to "protect its citizens")?

- Sent hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers across the internationally recognized borders of a neighboring democracy?

- Instigated a series of deadly provocations and open attacks over the course of many months, resulting in civilian casualties?

- Refused to engage in meaningful, bilateral dialogue on peace proposals?

- Constantly blocked all international peacekeeping efforts?

- Refused to attend urgent peace talks on South Ossetia organized by the European Union and the OSCE in late July?

- When the crisis began to escalate, refused to have any meaningful contact (I tried to reach President Dmitry Medvedev on both Aug. 6 and 7, but he refused my calls)?

- Tried to cover up a long-planned invasion by claiming, on Aug. 8, that Georgia had killed 1,400 civilians and engaged in ethnic cleansing -- "facts" quickly disproved by international and Russian human-rights groups?

- Refused to permit EU monitors unrestricted access to these conflict areas after the fighting ended, while engaging in the brutal ethnic cleansing of Georgians?

These are the questions that need to be answered. The fact that none can be answered in Russia's favor underscores the grave risks of returning to business as usual. Russia sees Georgia as a test. If the international response is not firm, Moscow will make other moves to redraw the region's map by intimidation or force.

Responding firmly to the Putin-Medvedev government implies neither the isolation nor the abandonment of Russia; it can be achieved in tandem with continuing engagement of, and trade with, Russia. But it does require holding Russia to account. Moscow must honor its sovereign commitments and fully withdraw its troops to pre-August positions. It must allow unrestricted EU monitoring, and accede to the international consensus that these territories are Georgia. Such steps are not bellicose; they are simply the necessary course to contain an imperial regime.

We all hope that Russia soon decides to join the international community as a full, cooperative partner. This would be the greatest contribution to Georgia's stability. In the interim, we should make sure that we do not sacrifice democracies like Georgia that are trying to make this critical part of the world more stable, secure and free.

Mr. Saakashvili is president of Georgia.

Copyright ©2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 01, 2008

Leogrande Arbitration Decision

Read the USADA vs. Leogrande decision (full text).

DENVER: The cyclist who sued the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency seeking to prevent the group from completing a drug test on him received a two-year doping ban Monday.

Kayle Leogrande filed suit against USADA in January seeking an injunction to prevent the agency from testing his backup urine sample after the original 'A' sample was ruled negative because of a technicality.

USADA scrapped plans to test the backup sample, and the lawsuit was later dismissed. But the agency continued with the doping case and wound up with a "non-analytical positive" — proof of doping through witnesses, documentation and other evidence.

The three-person arbitration panel ruled unanimously in a 15-page decision that Leogrande had used the blood booster EPO. The 31-year-old cyclist's two-year ban began Monday.

"It's another case where athletes are coming forward and relying on us to take their evidence to help the playing field," USADA chief executive officer Travis Tygart said.

The two key witnesses against Leogrande were Suzanne Sonye and Frankie Andreu. Both worked for Rock Racing, the team Leogrande raced for in 2007. Sonye was a soigneur responsible for providing physical therapy, food and logistics for the cyclists and Andreu, a former rider, was an administrator.

Leogrande's samples were taken during the International Cycling Classic in July 2007, where Leogrande won three events, finished second at three more and finished second overall at the event, also known as Superweek.

Though his 'A' sample was ruled negative because of a technicality, a panel ruled testimony from Sonye and Andreu, along with other evidence, was convincing enough to prove doping. Sonye testified that Leogrande told her he had used EPO and she told Andreu. As the news spread through the team, there was a debate about whether to fire him or suspend him. Eventually, Leogrande was suspended for two weeks.

"No one within Rock Racing management questioned whether he'd used EPO," the decision read. "The only debate was what to do about it."

Other evidence in the case included pictures of Leogrande holding EPO vials that [**LEOGRANDE CLAIMED] were taken at the home of cyclist Joe Papp and a letter that read: "Joe, 2 boxes G. 100 iu; 7 boxes E. 60,000; $500. I owed you! Thanks, Kayle."

USADA also introduced Papp's cell phone records that showed 274 calls and text messages to Leogrande during a 12-month period ending in July 2007.

Papp was a USADA witness in last year's public case against Floyd Landis. In that case, Papp said he was a drug cheat and testified about the ways synthetic testosterone helped him recover.

Papp received a two-year ban for doping, the customary penalty for a first-time drug offender.

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**Note that it is only Leogrande who claims that photos in question were taken at Papp's residence. Photos were actually taken by Papp at Leogrande's residence with his consent.

Leogrande has never been to Papp's home in Pennsylvania...