Posted by: mdegeorge | May 21, 2010

Weekly Diagnosis: 5/21

It’s been one heck of a week for doping, resting in the NBA, and being ashamed of Philadelphia. The Sports Doctor, who has absolutely no affiliation with Anthony Galea and was really just going down to Washington to meet some friends, weighs in on the top quirky stories of the week.

Is there a doctor in the house?

The first doping bombshell dropped from the ESPN plane this week was the release of documents that basically showed anytime Dr. Galea went to the bathroom in the United States this summer. He made 17 trips throughout the country to visit 25 athletes, none of whom were identified by name other than the Washington Redskins’ Santana Moss. The first thing I did after the release was check the schedules of some of the highest profile athletes, including Albert Pujols, to see if their paths could ever have crossed (no worries, he’s clean).

Two things become evidently clear. First, why would you trust a doctor with the kind of glamour shot as Galea in his ESPN video? I wouldn’t trust that guy from Dr. 90210 to treat me with illegal substances and not be found out. Second, this goes to show you just how important it is to appreciate your administrative professionals every year in the fourth week of April. If you’re doing something illegal that they are privy to, spring for flowers AND a cake.

Just another dope

ESPN continued the doping extravaganza by reporting that deposed Tour de France champ Floyd Landis came forward to admit that he had doped through most of his professional cycling career and implicated other top American cyclists in his illegal activities. Landis also sent emails to a number of the world’s biggest cycling authorities, including officials from the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The allegations have caused shockwaves throughout the cycling world, which is in the midst of its first Grand Tour of the season (the Giro d’Italia) and the biggest date on the American cycling calendar (the Amgen Tour of California). It has elicited responses from the president of the UCI, Jacques Rogge, and Lance Armstrong, who is accused to helping Landis in his illegal efforts.

I’ve always wanted to believe that the sports and some of its biggest names are clean. And a person like Landis, who has no money, no future, and almost no credibility, threatens to undercut that. But, he also has no consequences, which means he no longer has the motivation to hide some pretty painful truths. I’ve always been a staunch believer that Armstrong has ridden clean throughout his legendary career, but his crash on the same day from the ATOC is one heck of a coincidence.

Can you feel the Love tonight?

Finally something that doesn’t (at least directly) have to do with drugs. Montreal journalist Pat Hickey, a veteran of the hockey circuit, found his 1999 Honda Accord vandalized in the parking lot of the Wachovia Center after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The car was covered with garbage, one of the tires had been slashed, and his Quebec license plates had been stolen, preventing him from re-entering Canada.

It’s yet another chapter in the fine history of Philadelphia fans and their world-renowned tolerance for opposing teams. It’s why this city needs more people armed with Tasers at every sporting event.

Summer vacation already?

It sure seems like that in the NBA, where today marks the second consecutive day without playoff basketball. That’s because the NBA, in its infinite ability to extract as much money as possible from the television networks, has given both series a full three days off between games, an utterly ridiculous amount of time. No, it’s not to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make each series more interesting (though I would be shocked if things, uh, didn’t go the way of the Suns and the Magic in their respective Game 3s). And it’s certainly not so the fans can savor a scintillating postseason (three sweeps in four conference semifinals, plus two non-competitive games in the Lakers’ series so far).

Instead it’s a pretty transparent attempt by the NBA to ensure they get at least one more weekend primetime showcase by placing the Game 6s on Friday and Saturday. With the utter dearth of competitive basketball thus far through the playoffs, a Game 7, which would fall next weekend without the extended hiatus, looks like a long shot. But now, David Stern and company are more likely to rope in those premium audiences. Meanwhile, the extended break means that ESPN is reaching so deep for analysis that a four-minute feature on how Marcin Gortat’s water bottle-filling ability has contributed to the team’s success this year is imminent.

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