Guest Post on Accepting Drugs in Sport: the Case of Pro-Cycling

October 30th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Mike Wilkinson, a former Ironman tri-athlete and a keen Tour de France follower:

The downfall of Lance Armstrong in the sport of professional cycling now seems complete.  Yet, as the dust settles, many are left wondering what’s next for pro-cycling: can it recover its credibility?  Or will it once more be tarnished by the brush of doping?  There seems little cause for hope, unless the Armstrong scandal helps the public reach a new acceptance of drugs in particular sports like pro-cycling.

Much has been written about Lance Armstrong. including allegations that he’s brought the sport into disrepute.  Although I’ll say that we can hardly expect successful pro-cyclists to behave like Mother Teresa, I have little to add about the man’s career.  I think, however, that there’s one important thing to keep in mind: the significant role of drugs in professional cycling goes well beyond just Lance Armstrong.

Before Armstrong, so many of cycling’s big names have tested positive for drugs.  They include Armstrong’s former rival, Jan Ullrich, five times Tour winner, Miguel Indurain and even the man who’s arguably the greatest road cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx.  

Drugging does not seem confined to just individual athletes, either.  In 1998, the year before Armstrong won his first Tour de France, pro-cycling went through the Festina Affair.  It started when a team car that was stopped by the authorities at a border crossing and was found to be packed to the gunwales with EPO and other performance-enhancing drugs.  The case sent shockwaves throughout the sport and resulted in the trial of 10 people, including cyclists, team doctors and team managers   There were plenty of calls for pro-cycling to clean up its act following that fiasco, too.

But why is doping so rife in pro-cycling?  For my part, I think people need to appreciate just what the sport involves.  In the Tour de France, for example, competitors ride approximately 3500 kilometres.  Over that distance, the winner sets a phenomenal average speed of around 40kmh. And even with that pace, riders get just two rest days through the 23 days of the race  

I don’t doubt how hard it is to be a professional sports person in any code, but surely there are few sports where competitors operate so near the upper bounds of human endurance.  Cyclists must face a massive temptation to seek performance from wherever they can find it.

Some are calling for some sort of amnesty in which riders can come clean.  Whether or not that happens, you have to wonder just how long it will take for riders will start doping or not.  When someone in a race performs well, everyone else is going to think that person’s doping and they should, too.

Do others share my scepticism that the sport can clean itself up?  Yes, including some pretty important people.  One big name sponsor Dutch bank, Rabobank, has been involved in cycling for 17 years.  Yet, after the Armstrong scandal, it announced it was ending its sponsorship of both men’s and women’s professional cycling, saying that it was “no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport.”

What does it mean for something to be a fair sport?  Surely, it’s that players know the rules and abide by them.  What if the rules were changed so that a level of doping was acceptable?  If everyone was able to take drugs, wouldn’t the sport still be fair?

While cyclists might by themselves reach this point, it’s doubtful that the general public would accept any sort of doping.  This is my reason for writing this post for Kiwiblog and not for some cycling forum.  Isn’t it time that we woke up and ask whether, for some particular sports, a level of doping might be ok?

For my 2c I think it is desirable that top titles are won by those who are the best athletes, not have the best chemists. However it would be great to have a “main” Olympics and a “freak” Olympics where anything goes from drugs to biotechnology – and have the winners from both compete against each other :-)

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Sports and politics

August 24th, 2010 at 11:06 am by David Farrar

Bob Brockie writes:

But three Californian economists – Andrew Healy, Neil Malhotra and Cecilia Mo – have just shown that completely irrelevant events can swing public voting. They matched up top American college football and basketball results between 1964 and 2009 with results from senate and presidential elections.

The economists found that local wins and losses affected voters’ choice of candidates. More exactly, they found that a win in the 10 days before election day gave the incumbent candidate an extra 1.6 per cent more votes. The effect was most noticeable where sports teams had a big following of fans.

So if the All Blacks continue with this form, John Key will call the election for Saturday 29 October 2011 :-)

Of course the PM will not have the election campaign overlap with the Rugby World Cup. I believe the likely date is the last Saturday of November. I suspect that six weeks after a sporting event, any impact on how people vote will be minimal.

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Pole dancing now a sport

June 28th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dominion Post reports:

As it shifts from seedy strip clubs into the mainstream, pole dancing is fast becoming recognised as a legitimate sport.

The first Central Pole Dancing Championships are on today in Wellington. …

There were even moves to make pole dancing an Olympic sport. Ms Dodson said Olympic recognition would a great boost for the sport. “It does have that X-factor.”

I am confident that pole dancing will join beach volleyball as an Olympic sport in the near future.

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We never lost a game at the World Cup

June 25th, 2010 at 8:34 am by David Farrar

It is still an incredible achievement for the team that the bookies had ranked bottom to finish the pool play without having lost a game.

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All Right

June 21st, 2010 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

The 1-1 draw against Italy is arguably the greatest achievement to date of a NZ soccer team. This is like Japan drawing with the All Blacks in rugby.

We started the tournament as the bottom ranked team (in terms of odds at Ladbrookes), and so having two points of two games is magnificent.

The Herald puts it into context – we have 25 professional footballers compared to 3,541 for Italy.

If somehow we can make the next round, I reckon there will be a de facto public holiday to celebrate!

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A premature story

June 20th, 2010 at 5:34 pm by David Farrar

It’s not quite as bad as the 1948 Dewey beats Truman headline, but ESPN should have waited for the final whistle!

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Editorials 17 March 2010

March 17th, 2010 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

The Herald is not a fan of money for the All Whites:

John Key said the money given to New Zealand Football would help it capitalise on the All Whites’ qualification for the World Cup finals and promote the game domestically.

More specifically, he mentioned the hiring of a temporary media manager, the revamping of the NZF’s website, a series of soccer fun days, and the identification and training of talented 17 and 18-year-olds.

None of this bears a skerrick of analysis, not least because NZF will receive a $10 million windfall payment from Fifa, the game’s governing body because of thanks to the All Whites’ qualification for the finals.

That will be supplemented by the host of sponsorship opportunities opened by New Zealand’s second appearance on football’s biggest stage. It also follows close on the heels of a US$1 million ($1.4 million) payout from Fifa for the All Whites’ participation in last year’s Confederations Cup. In sum, that money has put NZF’s previously shaky finances on an even keel.

Have to say I agree more with the Herald.

The Press looks Trans-Tasman:

Although former deputy prime minister Sir Don McKinnon has said that at some point a merger is inevitable, current Prime Minister John Key says the debate is pointless, as a merger is simply not going to happen.

Clearly, opposition to New Zealand losing its status and identity as an independent sovereign nation would be a formidable barrier to merging with Australia in the short to medium term.

It is more likely that this prospect will be seriously debated when both nations consider whether to move from being constitutional monarchies to republics – and there appears no huge groundswell for this to occur in the near future in either country.

In the meantime, the priority should be continued efforts to harmonise the two economies, including further developments that will bring a common border, a common currency and more consistency in our tax systems. On the latter front, there could, of course, be developments in this year’s New Zealand Budget.

I commented on Radio NZ that I might support NZ joining Australia, if each of our islands could e recognised as a state. This would allow us to gain control of the Australian Senate :-)

The Dom Post opposes funding elderly daytrippers:

By all accounts the SuperGold Card has been a godsend for the elderly. Pensioners who have not ventured far from their homes for years are using the free public transport component of the card to visit family and friends and generally get out and about.

The card has proved particularly attractive to elderly residents of Auckland’s Waiheke Island and their contemporaries in Auckland who fancy a harbour cruise. Pensioners, or rather the Government on their behalf, spent $2 million on Waiheke Island ferry travel in a 12-month period. That’s 11 per cent of the $18m spent on the scheme in total.

Undoubtedly the scheme has been good for the elderly, not to mention Fullers, the ferry company that operates the Waiheke service. It is effectively receiving a $2m subsidy from the Government for services that were already running.

The transport operators have been the real beneficiaries. Because it is for off peak travel only, it means that they have merely soaked up unused capacity, and not led to any extra services.

In other words, the transport operators are getting $18 million a year for providing the same services at much the same cost. The subsidy level of 75% is ridiculously generous, and I can only presume that whomever negotiated it, also negotiated the KiwiRail sale.

However, there is a question to be asked about whether the Government should be subsidising the discretionary travel of elderly daytrippers while it is rationing healthcare, stinting on teacher pay and putting the squeeze on Government departments.

Of course not. It’s obscene we spend $2 million a year on the wealthiest elderly people in Auckland to go to and from Waiheke etc. But once a subsidy is in place, it is politically lethal to remove it.

Quotable Value puts the median value of a three-bedroom house on Waiheke Island at $650,000. Just because the owner of such a home wishes eventually to pass that property on mortgage-free to his or her heirs is not a reason for a Porirua mum, living in rented accommodation and working nights to put food on the table for her children, to subsidise the pensioner’s discretionary travel.

The Government has aptly read the political winds. Working New Zealanders and their children are the losers.

Absolutely.

The ODT looks at youth offending:

While the 156 offences involving shoplifting might be considered nothing out of the ordinary, what should the community think of the nine assaults with a weapon, the single instance of threatening to kill, the five caught in possession of cannabis, the 34 arsonists? These all involved older – but still primary school-aged – children, and there were among them those with severe behavioural problems.

Yet efforts by the police youth services, schools, Child, Youth and Family and parents have led to a decrease in the number of very young offenders.

Ten years ago the numbers were twice those of the past year, which surely reflects the subsequent success of co-ordinated intervention.

Even so, it is a disturbing reflection of modern society that more than 700 young children were considered sufficiently delinquent to justify police apprehension for criminal offences.

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Editorials 16 March 2010

March 16th, 2010 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald looks at the Iraqi elections:

Iraq’s national elections were some distance removed from the type of poll associated with a smoothly functioning democracy. They were conducted amid an intimidating campaign of violence, and in the aftermath there have been accusations of fraud.

Even now, only partial results are available because of disorderly vote-counting. Yet the pluses of the election far outweigh the negatives, especially in indicating that Iraq may be ready to turn its back on years of sectarian strife.

The results announced so far show the Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, edging ahead. His State of Law coalition leads in seven of the country’s 18 provinces. …

If a coalition is cobbled together relatively quickly, it will clear the way for the smooth pull-out of more American troops by the end of August, and a final exit by the end of next year.

The new government will have its hands full preserving Iraq’s fragile security, continuing to resolve its sectarian tensions and repairing shattered public services.

But, at the very least, this election marks a promising start. Iraq has defied the many doomsayers by moving further along the road to democracy and reconciliation.

It is going to be fascinating to see what Iraq is like in 2020. Will it still have major sectarian violence and terrorism, or will it be a relatively well functioning democratic state?

The Press talks football:

The Wellington Phoenix football team has provided one of the sporting highlights of the past year. For the club to have made the A-League playoffs for the first time, and to have got within one match of the grand final, was an achievement all New Zealanders can be proud of. As Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has noted, this has been a breakthrough season for the club. It also augurs well for the 2010-11 season.

Although the dream run ended on Saturday night, thanks partly to a handball goal by a Sydney player, the Phoenix’s successful season helped to heighten public interest in football, as shown by the crowds of up to 33,000 that the team attracted.

Maybe the Warriors would do better if they were Wellington based also :-)

The Dominion Post talks league tables:

One thing is for sure in the wake of the publication of Health Ministry statistics comparing the performances of 80 primary health organisations.

Total Healthcare Otara, the PHO with the poorest record of immunising two-year-olds, will be taking immediate steps to improve its performance. Public ignominy is a powerful motivating tool.

So it should be. The release of the data highlights yet again the benefits of comparing the performance of organisations doing essentially the same job, whether they operate in the health sector, the education sector or any other area. Not only is the information useful to decision-makers and the public, it is also useful to the organisations themselves. As Helen Rodenburg, the chairwoman of a clinical quality board that oversees four PHOs in Wellington, told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report yesterday, before the publication of the data, PHOs did not know how their performance compared with those of similar organisations in other parts of the country.

The primary teachers’ union, the New Zealand Educational Institute, should take note.

This is exactly why the NZEI is so opposed.

Of course there are limitations associated with the way the data is collected. Of course it is important to compare like with like and, of course, it is important to consider the different environments in which schools operate. Just as a PHO in Wellington City could be expected to outperform a PHO in Porirua on many measures, so children at a decile 10 primary school in Khandallah could be expected to perform better in tests than children at a decile 1 school in Cannons Creek. The children in wealthier neighbourhoods are more likely to come from homes in which English is the first language, there is space for a dedicated homework area and the shelves are stacked with books.

But instead of flatly rejecting the introduction of national standards as the NZEI is doing, it should be devoting its energies to ensuring the tests measure something useful.

NZEI be constructive? Sure, and Satan has this nice little ski chalet for sale.

The ODT focuses on investor migrants:

The Government is rightly taking a hard-headed look at the domain – New Zealand is not so wealthy as to be able to offer refuge to thousands of migrants who bring little other than “diversity” to their new country, but neither should it push these policies so far that, in effect, the prize of New Zealand citizenship is being sold to the highest bidder.

There are, after all, many values – honesty, pride, diligence, community-mindedness, intelligence, aspiration, entrepreneurialism among them – besides an already accumulated wealth that will colour the future contribution of any migrant, including those in the new parent and temporary retirement categories, to his or her adopted country.

Dr Coleman and the National-led Government are evidently determined to implement immigration policies that pay.

The ambition is laudable, but wealth is relatively easy to measure, other desirable qualities less so.

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Peter Gibbons asks the questions which ask the questions

November 20th, 2009 at 11:32 am by Peter Gibbons

Given we guest bloggers were bought back to help provide content when Mr Farrar was on holiday, has anyone noticed a reduction in his blogging frequency?

If Inga is really thinking about becoming a National MP, has he remembered to join the National Party?  (A surprising number of prospective National MPs leave this crucial step quite late…)

Given the University of Auckland “will not tolerate cheating” and that plagiarism is explicitly listed on their website as the main type of cheating, what action will it take in relation to a staff member who has admitted not acknowledging a number of passages in a new book?

Was Thierry Henry’s blatant handball even worse than Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’?

What do Sir Bob Jones and Hon Rodney Hide talk about when they meet at night in Jones’ office on Waring Taylor Street?

Is Shoaib Akhtar the first cricketer ever to miss cricket series’ because of genital warts and liposuction?

How can Will Ferrell, the man who bought us the genius of “More Cowbell”, now be (deservedly) ranked Hollywood’s most over-paid star?

Todd McLay’s members’ bill about Easter Trading Hours should sort this issue out once and for all, right?

Have you really invented a new chant about Rory Fallon being big and bad and better than his dad when you’ve just changed the name in the chant the Barmy Army have been singing at Stuart Broad for two years?

Has Tau Henare really bought a scooter or is Craig Foss fomenting his own happy mischief?

If Australia needs a cricket coach, why wouldn’t we?

How long can Roarprawn possibly hold to her pledge not to blog about Ngai Tahu politics?

Will the Libertarianz ever take Oswald’s advice to ‘softly, softly catchy monkey’?

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Well done the All Whites

November 15th, 2009 at 5:33 am by David Farrar

I couldn’t get the match, btu I heard the news within minutes.

I’m not sure if those in their 20s or younger will realise how soccer mad the country will go, as the World Cup approaches. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have a hope in hell of winning – it is just about actually being in the World Cup.

In 1982 I actually won a school debate on the topic that Soccer has replaced Rugby as our national sport. The victory was impressive as the judge was Clive Currie – our social studies teacher, but also a former All Black.

But back then in 1982, soccer (sorry football) was the big thing. There were more soccer teams than rugby teams at school. Almost everyone followed the FA Cup teams (I was a Liverpool supporter) and the country watched every World Cup match as if it was a rugby test match.

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Tua vs Cameron

October 3rd, 2009 at 9:01 am by David Farrar

Who do you think will win, and when?

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The Lingerie Football League

September 4th, 2009 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff covers the important issues today:

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It does not require a great deal of imagination to work out the marketing strategy of the Lingerie Football League (LFL), which opens its debut season tomorrow (NZ time).

The underwear-clad female players are hoping, however – probably in vain – to be taken seriously.

The LFL, born out of the commercial success of the ‘Lingerie Bowl’, a halftime show of women in scanty outfits broadcast during the halftime break in the NFL’s Super Bowl, has 10 teams competing in seven-a-side full-contact American football, with players dressed in sports bras and the tiniest of shorts.

I suspect it will not be long until it is on Sky Sports. The AFL equivalent of beach volleyball!

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Peter Gibbons asks the targeted pertinent questions

August 17th, 2009 at 9:59 am by Peter Gibbons

While this website certainly covers a vast array of topics (from politics to lava formation and back), one glaring omission is sport.  Watching sport appears to play the same role in David P Farrar’s life as calculating the margin of error does in mine.  As a result, I have decided to pose a series of sporting questions:

Will Wellington rugby ever run out of ways to break the hearts of their long-suffering fans?

If Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott are the answer, what exactly is the question?

Are the Broncos really back or just teasing?

Is it so wrong to laugh at the fans booing Beckham – again?

Why is Murali still allowed to “bowl”?

Wouldn’t Wipeout be a better Olympic sport than women’s boxing?

Will the Phoenix ever be higher up the table this season?

Will Liverpool win another championship in my lifetime?

How many New Zealanders wearing Yankees caps could name two current players?

Did you know that joint highest one-day cricket score of 194* was just made by Charles Coventry?

Did you know that he plays for Zimbabwe and they still lost the game?

What exactly did the Perth Glory spend all their money on?

Would the sport of athletics survive if Bolt ever tested positive for drugs?

A tough one but is Scott Styris better-looking than Wayne Rooney?

Was the best call of the weekend the commentator who suggested that Auckland rugby players were not used to playing in front of crowds?

Why is Richard Boock getting more and more bitter each week?

Was Tiger always this whiny?

Do you believe in the new and improved “nice” Kobe?

Will Warney get Richie’s job?

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Sevens photos

February 6th, 2009 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

Lot of photos in different places. First we have the NZ Herald. They have a 13 cool photos, including this one below:

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That is a great set of costumes, and quite easy to do.

Then the Dom Post has a collection of 29 photos, with several excellent ones below:

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Even the shoes match!

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They must be Irish!

Also the Dom Post has a story and photo of the Watt Family, who are regulat attendees, headed up by their 71 year old patriarch.

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Scoop also has some photos of the parade yesterday. They normally have photos from the event itself, and I’ll link to them when they do.

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Sports boycotts

January 10th, 2009 at 3:34 pm by David Farrar

Hamish McBrearty at Sports After Dark blogs on the protest against the Israeli tennis player. He says:

I don’t usually cover political events as it is my firm belief that sports should be apolitical. However, this particular protest is so intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt that I just have to point out a few things.

Veteran protestor John Minto and a few of his followers protested outside the ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland today, as is their right, and called for Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer to pull out of the tournament.

Minto had already indicated that his group, Global Peace and Justice would do so in this press release and a letter to Peer herself. The reason I find this protest so disgusting, apart from the hate in his press release, is that Peer is just a person going about her normal business. I can understand people protesting the 1981 Springbok Tour, as that team represented South Africa, was chosen along racial lines and gave some legitimacy to the regime, but Peer is a professional tennis player representing herself, she just happens to be Israeli. …

I’m not sure where these calls for a comprehensive boycott of Israel are coming from, but is he seriously suggesting that she should be unable to earn a living internationally based solely on where she was born?

The answer is yes.

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Classic McEnroe

January 9th, 2009 at 11:54 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has a list of the top ten tennis tantrums. This is a classic McEnroe above. It brings back great memories.

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SST on Halberg Awards

January 5th, 2009 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

Greg Ford in the SST reviewed the finalists for the Halberg Awards. He is upset that Mahe Drysdale did not make the finals.

Ford has contradictory logic. On the face of it Drysdale should not be a finalist as he only won a bronze, yet Ford argues:

The often controversial judging panel has done it again, this time overlooking Drysdale, who, while in the process of winning his bronze in Beijing against immense odds, restored our faith in sport and New Zealand sportspeople alike.

So he argues the fact he won a bronze while sick from food poisoning means he should be a finalist. But then later on he argues:

And, by including Paralympics swimmer Sophie Pascoe ahead of Erakovic, the judges seemingly blew any chance to argue there is no room for sentimentality when comparing and weighing the performances of athletes (see Drysdale).

The photogenic Pascoe performed with distinction. No ifs, no buts. She did a great job and, like Drysdale, stole our hearts by overcoming the odds.

But the cold, hard reality, is that the Paralympics can’t be compared alongside the real deal, or Wimbledon for that matter.

But now overcoming the odds doesn’t count when you are a paralympian. Ford manages to dismiss all paralympians (and make no mistake the top competitors there spend just as many hours a day training as other professional sportspersons, if not more), reduces Sophie Pascoe’s three gold medals (and one silver) to “performed with distinction” and then belittles her further by labelling her “photogenic” as if that is why she was made a finalist.

A pretty patronising article.

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A great game of football

November 29th, 2008 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

Thanks to the very good people at Westpac, I got to watch the Phoenix vs Melbourne football match at the Stadium last night.

Westpac have the best positioned corporate box in the ground. I guess when the stadium is named after your company, you get some perks! So it was a great view of the game. Mind you the hardcore fans down in the zone gave the game its spirit – they made enough noise for 30,000.

Melbourne scored the first goal around halfway through the first half. But literally just seconds later, the Phoenix scored to equalise. And a goal in the second half made it 2-1.

But the score didn’t reflect what a great game it had been. Both teams had periods where they dominated. There was some great passing and lots of action around the goals. It was one of those great matches to watch.

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An excellent game

September 14th, 2008 at 9:02 am by David Farrar

The Gods smiled on me yesterday as around lunchtime I got a phone call from a mate asking if I would be interested in watching the Wellington Lions vs Waikato game from a corporate box. Well that was a tough decision, so happily cancelled previously made plans. A few of us met at a friend’s place just down the road from me. As we walked to the stadium I persuaded them all on how we should lobby to get the bridge from the bottom of Davis Street to the stadium re-established. It would be great for Thorndon residents and cut 15 minutes off the journey.

The first quarter was amazing as the Lions scored four tries to be 26 – 0 up. And they were good tries too – great running and dodging. It was really all over at that point.

Waikato did well to fight back, but never looked like they would win. The final score was 45 – 33, with 12 tries scored in total – a great game to watch. And of course after match drinks were also fun.

Wellington owes Fran Wilde, and others, a huge thanks for making the Stadium happen. It has just transformed sports attendance rates in Wellington.

Very cute watching teams of six year olds playing on the ground before the big match.

Anyway Wellington now leads the points tables with 7 from 7. Next week is the challenge against Auckland for the Ranfurly Shield.

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Medals per capita

August 17th, 2008 at 3:09 pm by David Farrar

The LA Times reports on how it is a trans-Tasman battle for medals per capita with Australia 2nd and NZ 3rd. I suspect we will slip back by the end of the Olympics though.

If Michael Phelps was a nation, he’d definitely win the medals per capita count :-)

Later today Phelps competes for his 8th gold medal. It is the 4 x 100 m medley relay. It was very close in the heats.

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Finally some medals

August 17th, 2008 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

I was in a strategic planning meeting all day yesterday so watching the Olympics on replay, but great to see the news that the Ever-Swindells won gold, as well as Valerie Vii.

It was a day for close wins with Phelps winning his seventh gold by 0.01s and the Ever-Swindells retaining their Olympic crowns also by 0.01s – my God. And I reckon Mahi Drysdale would have won gold not bronze if he wasn’t sick as a dog.

But Vii’s win was amazing – she set a personal best and crushed the opposition. Peaking in the Olympic final is the time to do it.

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So what else is faked

August 13th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

China has made great strides in recent years, but one is reminded of how big the remaining gulf is, with the story over the fake singing at the Olympics opening:

The girl in the red dress with the pigtails, called Lin Miaoke, 9, and from a Beijing primary school, has become a national sensation since Friday night, giving interviews to all the most popular newspapers.

But the show’s musical designer felt forced to set the record straight. He gave an interview to Beijing radio saying the real singer was a seven-year-old girl who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called “Hymn to the Motherland”.

At the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner, a girl called Yang Peiyi, might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.

So, on the night, while a pre-recording of Yang Peiyi singing was played, Lin Miaoke, who has already featured in television advertisements, was seen but not heard.

The one good thing is that the musical designer who revealed this, felt he was able to do so without disappearing into the night as once would have been he case.

But really to have politburo members choosing the child singer!

And the fireworks were also faked in part:

Officials have already admitted that the pictures of giant firework footprints which marched across Beijing towards the stadium on Friday night were prerecorded, digitally enhanced and inserted into footage beamed across the world.

Now again the good thing is through blogs and elsewhere Chinese citizens are able to debate whether or not they think these actions were good, or not. But they do do real damage.

People like me wonder if the hosts are so willing to fake the singing and fake the fireworks, how much confidence can you have in them to have discouraged steroid use and the like? The technology is always somewhat ahead of the detection, so even the best efforts of international authorities will be limited if a host country condones anything in its desire to be the best.

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Olympics

August 10th, 2008 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

When Wellington weather is crap, a buffet of Olympics watching is well timed. The rowing heats especially have been superb watching even though the Kiwis have generally crushed their opposition to date.

Emma Twigg’s race was probably the closest as she came from behind to lead in the last 150 metres or so.

The swimming has also been a must see – especially Michael Phelps to see if he can win eight medals again.

Once again I love My Sky. Just fast forward through to the races you want to see!

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Televised Sports events

July 11th, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Not content with nationalising the planes and the trains, jim Anderton has a new target – sporting events. Yes he thinks these should be confiscated off sporting codes (with compensation) and made the property of the state to broadcast on free to air TV.

Frog Blog has a thread on this, and I’m pleased to say even over there the vast majority see this as a step too far.

My favourite quote is from Toad:

With essential services I’m not a great fan of user pays (because some users can’t afford to pay) but I don’t rate television sport in that category, so tend to agree with you on this one BB. I’m quite happy to fork out my Sky sub each month so I can watch live sport.

I don’t expect to get into the ground for free to see the match, so why should I expect to see it free on television?

Indeed the next logical step would be for the state to hand out free tickets to sports events on the grounds of fairness.

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An interesting contrast

July 1st, 2008 at 6:33 am by David Farrar

As far as I can tell the Government is spending tens of millions of dollars through eight different campaigns to encourage kids to play more sport.

National is saying we’ll take that money and spend it directly on funding and facilities for kid’s sports.

I know which one appeals more to me.

A useful comparison:

One big cost for example is the Sparc website. This year Sparc will spend $5.5 million on its website.  And between 2006 and 2010, Sparc will spend $11.5 million on its website.  That’s enough to give almost $6,000 worth of sporting equipment to every primary school in New Zealand.  Or to buy a decent cricket set for every family in Waitakere City.

That is a hell of a lot of money for a website!

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