Archive for August, 2012

Armstrong goes from hero to zero

Friday, August 24th, 2012

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Lance Armstrong is the Great American Sports Cheat. Our greatest ever.

It’s not just that his Tour de France titles have been stripped. By now, we’ve dealt with plenty of amazing feats taken away because of doping.

Or not taken away. Guilty or innocent, Barry Bonds never asked us to believe that he was all about the potential of human spirit. Roger Clemens and Marion Jones didn’t represent hope.

Armstrong tied his cycling titles and his cancer victory and his charity into one heroic narrative about himself. We all bought in. Who wouldn’t? But as the years went on, and the doping allegations built up, he used all his good will to mobilize forces against anyone who dared to point a finger at him.

 

 

It was such a shockingly mean-spirited turn. And now his narrative comes off as such a big lie, no matter how many people he helped.

He played us to the end. He brought us along through so much, asked us to believe so much. And then, rather than going into arbitration to fight his most serious doping allegations, Armstrong …

Gave up.

A federal court wouldn’t throw out the case earlier this week.

And when Armstrong decided Thursday to stop fighting, the US Anti-Doping Agency said it would — and did on Friday — take away his Tour de France victories, ban him from cycling for life and label him a cheat.

There are still questions regarding statute of limitations, and whether all of Armstrong’s wins are subject to being stripped, or just two of them.

“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ’’ Armstrong said on his website, calling the USADA’s case against him an “unconstitutional witch hunt,’’ and saying the doping allegations were taking too much time away from his charitable work.

From “never give up” to “enough is enough”. This doping fight was too rough for him? No, he just played us all again.

How sad that he hides behind his foundation, his charity, his army of followers, including cancer survivors. Armstrong leaves by saying that he’s not guilty. He just isn’t going to keep fighting.

Roughly, he’s saying: I am so tired. I have no more strength. Let them do what they want to me.

It is a genius play, really, pitching to his followers that he’s the victim. His dwindling numbers of believers will see him as an even bigger hero. But it’s a losing end-game now that he didn’t push his case to arbitration.

 

CHEAT SHEET

These athletes flouted the rules. Who’s in this hall of shame?

 

Years ago, Rosie Ruiz jumped into the Boston Marathon somewhere in the middle and tried to win. Danny Almonte pretended to be younger than he was so he could play Little League. But they didn’t ask anything of us.

The 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the World Series to collect money from gamblers. That just about killed baseball in this country.

But Shoeless Joe Jackson is portrayed now as some sort of naïve dupe of the gamblers. You think Armstrong will be seen favorably in the future?

Enough is enough. I am never going to forget Armstrong saying that, never forget him playing the role of martyr. He took his followers over the hills and roads of France, and through a courageous cancer battle.

And then he just left them there.

Armstrong used to point a finger at his accusers, saying they were jealous or unable to believe in miracles. (He was the miracle.) His followers believed. Then, his friends and teammates started to turn.

They had spent their careers doing everything they could to protect him during the Tour de France and to help him win.

They were trying to write books and get light sentences for their own doping issues, Armstrong insisted. His followers believed. Others were only more and more convinced he was lying.

Armstrong built the divide, played off it, protected himself with it.

Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong’s former teammate told “60 Minutes’’ that Armstrong had used performance enhancing drugs and that U.S. Postal Service team and cycling federation officials were covering up.

“He used it to prepare for the Tour,’’ Hamilton said. “I saw it in his refrigerator. I saw him inject it more than one time … He took EPO, testosterone and I did see a blood transfusion.’’

 

tour de france gallery

FRENCH ROLL

See the best shots from this year’s Tour de France.

 

Armstrong once said he looked forward to the USADA clearing him. Then, the USADA went after him, and Armstrong called it spite.

He has insisted over and over that he passed hundreds of doping tests.

Last week, BALCO founder Victor Conte, talking about the doping bust of baseball player Melky Cabrera, told me you’d have to be an idiot to fail a doping test.

Still, if you were hanging on to hope for Armstrong, you could. Until he stopped fighting.

That did not pass the smell test. It was desperation, quitting before losing.

American cyclist Greg LeMond, who won the Tour three times, once said about Armstrong, “If the story is true, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sport. If it is not, it is the greatest fraud.’’

People will be looking for the big picture, talking about Joe Paterno and how we fall too much in love with sports figures. That’s true, but Armstrong wasn’t just about sports. He helped people to have hope, and while that doesn’t go away, the bigger picture here isn’t about us.

It’s about Armstrong. One man. One tremendous fall. Enough is enough.

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Nurse who aided shooting victims in Aurora, Colo., theater attack drowns

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Courtesy of Seattle Party Bus Rentals

President Obama poses with staff at the University of Colorado Hospital, including Jennifer Gallager, left of the president

By NBC News staff and wire services
Courtesy of Dignity Memorial

Jennifer Ann Gallagher

Nurse Jennifer Gallagher, who helped treat victims of the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado, has drowned while on a family vacation in Iowa.

Gallagher, 46, of Denver, went swimming in West Lake Okoboji the night of Aug. 6 and her body was found the next day, according to the Sheriff’s Office in Dickinson County, Iowa.

Gallagher, an Ireland native, worked at the University of Colorado Hospital for 13 years and cared especially for a shooting victim treated in the hospital’s neurological intensive care unit, which she helped open. She was among staffers who met with President Barack Obama during his visit two days after the July 20 shooting rampage that killed 12 and wounded 58 at the Century Aurora 16 theater.

The hospital’s nursing chief officer, Carolyn Sanders, said Gallagher was a “beloved nurse” who was well known for her ability to connect with people and develop caring relationships with her patients.

Courtesy of Dignity Memorial

Jennifer Ann Gallagher and her family

Watch US News videos on NBCNews.com

Her husband of seven years, Greg Pinson, told  the Evening Herald newspaper of Dublin that his wife “loved saving lives” and was a “wonderful mother” to their son Jack, 5.

“We’re struggling to cope without her,” Pinson told the Herald.

He said he and Jack had gone to sleep when Gallagher and her friend took a boat out on the lake to go swimming.

See NBCNews.com coverage of the Aurora shootings

Courtesy of Dignity Memorial

Jennifer Ann Gallagher

“She wasn’t a very strong swimmer and I suppose she just wasn’t able to stay afloat. The hardest thing is I may never know what really happened to Jenny,” Pinson said.

The County Meath native moved to United States in the 1990s to go to nursing school, the Herald said.

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Leaked photos allegedly show next-generation iPhone’s motherboard

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Seattle Party Bus Rentals….Reports suggest that the next-generation iPhone will be announced on Sept. 12, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more tid-bits of information dripping out of the gossip pipeline than through a decent colander.

The latest gem? Photos which allegedly show the next-generation Apple smartphone’s motherboard.

As 9to5 Mac’s Mar Gurman reports, the photos were provided by a member of the WeiPhone forums, a Chinese-language community that focuses on Apple news and gossip.

The images don’t really tell us much  — particularly because they do not show a processor  — but what they do suggest, Gurman explains, is that the SIM card used by the next-generation iPhone could be a new “Nano-SIM” format. Additionally, the pictured part’s battery connector appears to have five pins — rather than the four pins found on the current generation device — and might indicate that the next iPhone will have a new higher-capacity battery. Oh, and there seem to be more antenna connections as well, which could mean that the next iPhone might offer LTE connectivity.

Considering that some of the details offered by these photos do support some of the rumors we’ve head over and over — LTE connectivity, higher-capacity battery, and so on — they might be worth keeping in mind. After all: The particularly persistent rumors tend to pan out … except when they don’t.

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2012 Olympics Medal Count

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

LONDON Seattle Party Bus Rentals

You will be tucked into bed, dreamily sleeping, when Saudi Arabian runner Sarah Attar runs 800 meters in a preliminary heat at the Olympics. You almost certainly will wake up to gushing Olympic dispatches of how this young woman from Pepperdine is a trailblazer and hero for being a part of The Kingdom’s first delegation to include female athletes.

And a few of my sports column-izing friends, undoubtedly, will tout Attar as further proof that London unofficially is “The Games of the Girls.”

 

Olympics medals in London

KEEPING TRACK?

Luckily for you, we are. Updated medal count.

 

What a crock of . . .

Anybody who believes this is girl power needs to take a closer look at what it means to be truly powerful. Because at this Olympics, women are winning medals and losing battles, participating in record numbers and being judged by different standards, given trails to blaze and then called whores for doing so.

Yes, Attar and fellow Saudi national Wojdan Shaherkani were Twitter sensations before even competing — hashtag #prostituteoftheOlympics.

How exactly is this a win for them?

As far as I can tell, they allow Saudi Arabia to say, “Look, see how progressive we are,” when that is totally false. They allow IOC president Jacques Rogge to brag, “Look, every country has female participants,” when that is misleading.

What did they get? To run races they cannot win and called names they do not deserve.

 

Olympics

JUMP FOR JOY

We’ve set a high bar for the best photos from Tuesday at the Olympics.VIEW PHOTOS

 

I am inspired by their courage to step into the arena, anyway, knowing they cannot win. I am also torn. What I know for sure is no power is better than fake power.

Fake power allows us to pretend, to avoid hard conversations, to ignore that these Olympics really have been mostly a statistical victory of female participation and medals, and a step backward for real progress.

I am not simply talking about Saudi Arabia. I am talking about us, too.

American hurdler Lolo Jones was ripped for being too sexy, gold medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt for not being sexy enough. Attacks on Gabby Douglas’ hairstyle overshadowed her gymnastics dominance, just as criticism of Serena Williams’ celebratory dance at Wimbledon did hers. This is not girl power. This is bordering on a backlash.

Hey, girls, you can play, but only under these rules:

• Be pretty but not too pretty.
• Celebrate but only in approved ways.
• And by all means, when breaking down huge color barriers, make sure your hair is styled in a way that is pleasing to everybody.

 

Olympic rifle

MAKING HISTORY

More scores are in the books, medals around necks. Find out who’s golden, and who’s on their way, with our full Olympics results

 

No, this is no longer a participation issue, or about equality. Women are playing and winning. The danger is that we confuse this with power, girl or otherwise. Real power is not being allowed to compete. It is being allowed to compete without conditions.

What these Olympics have proved is that whatever some women do, it is not going to be good enough. The New York Times dedicated a lot of dead-tree space to ripping Lolo for, what I can best tell, is the crime of being only a really good Olympic athlete and people being interested in her story and looks and talent and that interest providing money-making opportunities she had the gall to accept.

What we are left to assume is that this is a first in athletics, that Lolo Jones is the first athlete to benefit from being overhyped, that Linsanity did not exist in NYC just months ago, that an athlete somehow has an ability to control such interest or would even feel it necessary to do so.

The easy columnist call would be to blame sexism, except that is intellectually dishonest. The people who came after Douglas and her hair were mostly women. It is really difficult to send a message of “don’t judge female athletes on their looks” when we judge them on their looks.

“I do wish us women we could be more supportive of one another,” Olympic gold medal gymnast and FOXSports.com analyst Dominique Dawes said.

“I wish we could do away with cattiness and competing and realize we all can be achievers and be successful. There is enough room for us to all be on to be on top of the podium together.”

 

Olympic stadium view

WORLD IS WATCHING

Olympic stars are squarely in the spotlight as Olympics hit their second week. STAR TRACKER.

 

That is powerful. That is real girl power.

That does not play as well as stories about how much better the women are doing than the men, and how there are more women here representing the United States than men.

We love those kinds of tales because they are sweet and syrupy and they make us feel good about the progress we made. We love them because they are fairy tales, and fairy tales have happy endings and do not make us think or let us question and ask what message does it really send when we win medals and lose battles, participate in record numbers and allow ourselves to be judged by different standards, blaze trails to a soundtrack of guys calling us whores.

Because this also will be true when you wake up this morning: Shaherkani, just 16, ultimately is returning to Saudi Arabia, where she is unable to drive or leave the house without a male escort, and where her unmistakable courage in London has earned her the title of #prostituteoftheOlympics. To celebrate that as a victory is the height of hypocrisy.

If we allow her to be called a prostitute, we all are. Just like if we allow Douglas to be judged on her hair or Lolo on her sex appeal or Schmitt on her lack thereof, then we open those avenues of criticism for ourselves, our daughters, our wives.

This is not girl power at all, and the real power starts with admitting as much.

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GABBY DOUGLAS WINS ALL-AROUND GOLD

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Seattle Party Bus Rentals thinks it is time to get Gabby Douglas a new nickname.

Gabby Douglas

AMERICA’S SWEETHEART

US gymnast Gabby Douglas will win your heart in London.

Olympic champ might work.

Known as ”The Flying Squirrel,” Douglas won the women’s all-around title Thursday night, becoming the third straight American to win gymnastics’ biggest prize. It’s her second gold medal of the London Games, coming two nights after she and her ”Fierce Five” teammates gave the United States its first Olympic title since 1996.

Douglas rocked the O2 Arena with her electric floor routine, flashing a dazzling smile and lots of pizzazz. She finished with a score of 62.232, about three-tenths ahead of Viktoria Komova of Russia, runner-up at last year’s world championships.

Komova’s floor routine was impressive, as well, and she stood at the center of the arena staring intently at the scoreboard. When the final standings flashed, her head dropped and she hurried to the sidelines, tears falling. Douglas finished with a score of 62.232, about three-tenths ahead of the Russian.

Aliya Mustafina and Aly Raisman finished with identical scores of 59.566, but the Russian got the bronze on a tiebreak. The lowest scores for both gymnasts were dropped, and the remaining three were totaled. That gave Mustafina a total of 45.933 and Raisman 45.366.

While her U.S. teammates hopped up and down in the stands, Douglas simply grinned. Up in the stands, her mother, Natalie Hawkins, hugged her children and Missy Parton, whose family Douglas lives with in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Olympic gymnastics gallery

TOE THE LINE

World’s best gymnasts point all their efforts toward gold. View photos

It was two years ago that Douglas told her mom she wanted to move from their home in Virginia Beach, Va., to train with Liang Chow, who coached Shawn Johnson in 2008. Hawkins said absolutely not; there was no way she was letting the youngest of her four children move halfway across the country at 14.

But Douglas’ two older sisters lobbied on her behalf, giving their mother a list of reasons why Gabby should be allowed to go. The only reason to stay: They would miss her.

Just as she did in Tuesday night’s team final, Douglas set the tone with the very first event, vault. Once again doing the difficult Amanar – a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before landing – Douglas took a small hop to the left and then another, putting her dangerously close to the out-of-bounds line. She never looked down, but it was clear she knew how close she was, twisting her upper body to the left to absorb the momentum and keep her legs from moving. She stayed in place – and in bounds – and her 15.966 gave her a lead she never relinquished.

Komova made it close on uneven bars, where she looks more like a little hummingbird as she flies between the bars. Her routine is incredibly difficult, yet she does it with such lightness and style. She took a small hop on her dismount, but camouflaged it by immediately thrusting her hands into the air and turning to salute the judges. When her score of 15.966 was announced, she nodded slightly as she zipped her Russian team warm-up all the way to her chin.

Next came balance beam, where both Komova and Douglas have struggled. Komova’s fall during the team competition at last year’s worlds hurt Russia’s chance of catching the Americans, while Douglas might have won the U.S. title if not for a fall on the second day of competition.

ball

HOW FAB!

You saw the US women’s gymnastics team win the gold. Now see a different side of them.

With the stakes higher than ever, however, both were clutch. Most of Komova’s tricks were landed with confidence, and her sheep jump – where she thrusts her head and arms back while kicking her feet behind her – was exquisite, the soles of her feet brushing her ponytail.

But Douglas did her one better. She oozed confidence as she whipped off a series of back handsprings, landing as easily and confidently as she had when she performed on the arena floor. She did a front somersault with such power the thud of her landing echoed inside the arena.

She took a small hop forward on her dismount, but it hardly mattered. The look on her face said it all: Yeah, I got this. Her score of 15.5 extended her lead over Komova to more than three-tenths of a point going into the final rotation, floor exercise.

While Douglas’ skills on floor are impressive – she gets more air than the NBA’s Carmelo Anthony, whom she and her teammates met the other day – it’s her personality that makes it a show-stopper. The crowd was clapping almost from the opening notes of her techno music, and she got downright sassy with her dance moves, directing playful grins at the judges.

Her score of 15.033 meant Komova needed a 15.36 or better to win. She didn’t come close, and Douglas grabbed herself another gold.

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