Saturday, June 10, 2017

Calling Out Nike’s BS Lack of Response to Oregon Project Doping Allegations

It’s been more than two years since the BBC came out with a report accusing Alberto Salazar of systematically abusing prescription medications and supplements to enhance performance. The report featured detailed stories of former athletes and coaches, including Steve Magness and Kara Goucher, who claimed that Salazar was constantly seeking an edge with supplements, pushing the boundaries of what clean sport allows. They claimed that Salazar used medical doctors for performance enhancement, not to address health issues. Since that time, the allegations just keep getting worse and more detailed

How has Nike responded to all this?


As an attorney, I strongly believe in the due process of law. No athlete or coach should be publicly accused without an appropriate process to respond.

But at this stage the weight of allegations is just too much for Nike to keep ignoring this or pretending it’s not happening. We’re past the point where Nike and Salazar can keep sending out milquetoast press releases and maintain their credibility. Salazar’s manipulation of medications is the biggest open joke in the running community, but Nike keeps pretending it's a non-issue.

This isn’t a Duke Lacrosse situation, where three athletes were publicly defamed because of the false accusations of one deeply troubled and unreliable witness.

Right now, there have been allegedly 17 former Oregon project athletes and staff who have accused Salazar of inappropriate behavior. Last week, Propublica published a report alleging that Oregon Project medical records may have been altered. Two days ago, the New York Times reported that the main Oregon Project doctor has received formal notice of allegations of anti-doping violations.

And still from Nike we hear nothing.

The longer this goes on, the worse this will be for Nike. If the allegations against Doctor Brown and Salazar are true, then Nike’s highest profile running program may have engaged in a conspiracy to commit and hide doping violations. But even if that isn’t true, at best, it would appear that the Oregon Project systematically engaged in borderline unethical behavior with respect to medications and supplements.

The one real allegation that Rupp and others violated anti-doping rules is telling in this regard. According to the leaked USADA report:
Galen Rupp’s lawyer handed over a worksheet from the pharmacy that prepared Rupp’s IV that the lawyer may have not understood. USADA thinks he thought it vindicated Rupp as he thought it referred to a “45 ml injectable” when in reality it referred to “four (4) 100ml IV infusion bags” each “containg a concentration of 9.67 grams of L-carnitine per 45 milliliters.” They also have evidence that Dr. Brown altered medical records or intentionally withheld information unlawfully to cover his ground and make it seem as if the amount of the infusion was legal. Rupp’s lawyer handed over a worksheet from the pharmacy that prepared Rupp’s IV that the lawyer may have not understood. USADA thinks he thought it vindicated Rupp as he thought it referred to a “45 ml injectable” when in reality it referred to “four (4) 100ml IV infusion bags” each “containg a concentration of 9.67 grams of L-carnitine per 45 milliliters.” They also have evidence that Dr. Brown altered medical records or intentionally withheld information unlawfully to cover his ground and make it seem as if the amount of the infusion was legal.
When you consistently push the absolute limits of what is legally allowed, even if you do not intentionally violate the rules, you make it much more likely that you will unintentionally violate the rules. Perhaps that's what happened here. And if so, it has the potential to cast a shadow over the entire extraordinary career of perhaps the greatest American distance runner of all time.

This is not just about whether Salazar technically violated WADA rules—even as evidence is mounting that he may have done so. Nike needs to address the way the program dealt with supplements generally, even if it is true, as they claim, that no rules were ever violated.

Here’s what Nike needs to do:
  • It needs to suspend Alberto Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown, effective immediately, pending the results of the USADA investigation.
  • It needs to hire an independent, third-party law firm to systematically review the way the company’s athletic programs handled supplements and prescriptions, to determine who knew what when, whether any abuses took place, and who is responsible. If they find fault, the company needs to create a series of recommendations to improve processes so this does not happen again.
Until Nike addresses this issue head on, all Oregon Project running performances will be under suspicion. Right now, the Oregon Project is synonymous with bending the rules and doping abuse. To the extent that there might be clean athletes in the program, this is not fair to them. To the extent that they aren’t clean, it isn’t fair to rest of the world.  


Either way, it’s past the point where Nike can pretend it’s not an issue. The longer Nike plays pretend, the more it starts to make sense to point fingers at not just Salazar or Brown, but at Nike on the whole, CEO Mark Parker, and the Company’s Board of Directors.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Weird fruitarian ultrarunner guy in the news


Well, I think he's in the news again. But not for his diet or ultrarunning.

I was reading a legal blog called the Volokh Conspiracy, and there was a story about a New York businessman being prosecuted for allegedly falsifying judicial orders. The businessman's name was Michael Arnstein. I went to the website for the business in question, and yeah, I'm pretty sure it's him.

According to Volokh Conspiracy:
Michael Arnstein runs the Natural Sapphire Company. Upset at some allegedly libelous criticisms of his company, he filed a lawsuit and got a court order requiring a defendant to take down those criticisms. He then sent the order to Google, asking Google to deindex those URLs — to hide them from Google search results (as Google often does when it sees such a court order).
And then Arnstein submitted 11 other orders to Google, each mentioning a new allegedly libelous URL (or list of URLs), each in the same case, and each with a different order date. Unfortunately, they weren’t really orders — they were apparently forgeries, copying the caption to the case and the judge’s signature. (1234567891011.) Google did indeed apparently deindex some material, relying on some of these orders.
Not good.

I don't practice criminal law. But I've actually stumbled upon this phenomenon before. Forging a judicial order is a great way to get someone to do what you want. But when you get caught, well, let's just say that judges don't tend to be too lenient with people who fake legal orders for profit.

If true, this dude's in a lot of trouble.

Might be a challenge to keep up that whole fruitarian diet in prison.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Salida

Two weeks ago my wife and I moved to Salida.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains. Now we do. It’s totally surreal.

I know that I’m biased, but I think this is about the coolest little town on earth. The vibe is great. Tons of culture for a town this small – plenty of places to eat and socialize. Still in the baby stages of developing a social circle, but everyone we’ve met has been warm and welcoming. It’s exceeded all expectations.

Salida’s a crazy fun place to be a trail runner. There’s a link to BLM land that connects from my house to the Little Rainbow trail, which connects to a bunch of other trails, which then connects to both the Arkansas Hill Trails across Highway 50, or, if you want to get really ambitious, to the Rainbow Trail, which can take you all the way to Westcliffe to the East or to the Monarch Crest Trail to the West, the Colorado Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, which can take you to either Mexico or Canada. Plus all 14 Sawatch 14er trailheads and 4 Sangre de Cristo 14er trailheads within an hour of my front door. 

After ten years or running circles around Wash Park, it feels like running heaven.

I like it so much I feel guilty -- just super lucky and trying to appreciate that fact. Still, there's no guarantee that my business will do well here, so I'm just trying to enjoy each day and not think too far ahead. 

This morning we joined the Chaffee County Running Club for a jog. Impressive at it sounds, it was only six of us, and that includes me and my wife. I got to run with snowshoe and burro-running legend Tom Sobol for most of it, which woke up the fanboy in me. Man, that guy has some stories to tell. Like the time when he debated signing up for Hardrock the night before the race ($70 entry fee at the time). Super humble and friendly guy. And he can definitely still run.

The move even inspired me to sign up for a couple of races -- first time I've signed up for anything longer than a 5k since 2012. I’m doing the local trail marathon in March and then I put my name into the SJS 50 lottery for June. Figure I’ll be spending plenty of time at elevation, so not a bad time to get back into it. I won’t be setting any competitive goals for either. Just looking to get back to spending a lot of time outside and up high.

With all that said, if you read this blog and you know me, shoot me a message the next time you’re down our way. One of the only downsides of being here is that we’re so far from most of the people we know. So we'd the love the company if you're ever in the area.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Changing Course

Last year I wrote this post where I speculated that I could maintain or even gain fitness as a runner, only running four days a week.

It didn’t work.

I tried the four-day-a-week approach for about two years. And while I didn’t lose my fitness completely, it never felt like I was improving. At best I felt stagnant.

I wrote in that post that I thought I could run big-buckle fast running only four days a week. But I never even got to the starting line of a 100 running four days a week. Because I was never that fit, whenever I tried to run for more than three hours, the experience was unpleasant enough that the idea of running for 24-hours never appealed to me.

Who knows if I could have ever run sub-24 in a 100 running four days a week. What I learned was running four days a week, I didn’t have the energy to try. When you know you’re not that fit, the idea of racing just doesn’t feel that appealing.

That’s where I have been running-wise for a while.

Then, last month, I went to Leadville and Salida for a week, just to get out of the city. Because of my surroundings, I spontaneously decided to run every day.

It felt great. It felt right.

So I kept doing it. And now I'm on a 35-day running streak.

It makes a huge difference. Rather than picking up injuries, the niggles are going away. If I run the same pace as I used to run, my heart rate is lower. I can run faster and still stay aerobic. My energy’s better. I’ve shed about ten pounds.

I’m running less per day than before. But because I’m running every day, my fitness is improving. Much more abruptly than I would have expected.

Like I said, I was wrong.

And as it so happens, the more I run, the more I want to run. I’m looking up races for winter and spring.  The thought of running 100s is creeping into my head again.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had these thoughts. Take it with a grain of salt.

But I feel great. And I’m more excited than I’ve been about running in a while.

This winter, I think I’ll dip my toes into some 5K and local road races to see how it goes.

And so yeah, that’s it. Nothing earth shattering to report. I guess I just re-learned a lesson I had already learned 25 years ago.

If you want to be a good runner, run every day.


Duh.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Low-mileage ultra theory

In 2011 and 2012, I made running a priority. Now it’s not. That’s ok. It’s a conscious decision. I’m doing some other things now that matter more to me than ultra-running.

But I love running. And I miss the competitive landscape. I’ve been running since I was 11. I hit my athletic peak at age 14, when I ran a 5:09 mile and 2:18 half mile. I was decent in high school and then a non-factor in college. I lost the competitive drive in my 20s. I ballooned to 220 pounds and thought I’d never be a real runner again.

But even then, I ran. Not far or fast. Only ten miles a week, maybe. But I ran.

And in 2008, when a high school running buddy bet me that he would run the Leadville 100, I said I’d do the same.

Four years later, I ran and finished the thing. 

That summer, I quit my law job and lived in the mountains, camping in the open air and playing in the mountains. It was great. But that’s not my life now.

My life’s totally different today. Instead of having no work, I have my own law firm with employees and lots of clients. On the side, I’m a co-founder of two startups in the process of raising capital and trying to get traction in the market. The demands on my time don’t stop. It’s ok. I like it. But it’s hardly conducive to running ultras.

Or is it?

I’m a fan of this guy. And I’m always trying to figure out ways to cut the fat. I always wonder if there’s a way to get what I want in less time – to get more efficient. I like to look at processes through the lens of the Pareto principle, which says that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In sales, 80% of revenue might come from 20% of your clients. In playing guitar, 80% of the ability could be acquired in 20% the time. Or so the theory goes.

Does this apply to ultra-running? Or, asked differently, what’s the minimum amount of running you could do to be a decent ultra-runner?

I’ve seen lots of sites dedicated to people who do low-mileage ultras. And I know it’s possible to finish an ultra, even a 100, on low mileage. But I don’t want to just finish. I want to be reasonably competitive.

I’m not so foolish as to believe that I can maximize my ultra-running capacity by running only 4-8 hours a week. But could I be decent? Could I be big-buckle fast (or the non-Leadville equivalent) on an average of 5 hours a week? Could I finish in the top 20% of the field, on a minimal training regiment?

I don’t know. But I’m half inclined to find out.

So here is my plan:

(All times in minutes)

For a minimum of 12 weeks

Week 1

Tuesday – 60 w/ 30 minutes on treadmill, max incline
Wednesday – 30 (80 if you have time)
Friday – 180-300
Sunday – 80

Week 2

Tuesday 60 – high intensity
Wednesday – 30 (80 if you have time)
Friday – 80
Sunday – 80 w/ threshold run

Repeat.

There’s one additional component: Six weeks and four weeks before the race, run back-to-back 180-300-minute days.

That’s it.

This plan requires eleven long runs, plus thirty or so runs of 80 minutes or more.
  
I think how you allocate time in running is more important than the total running time allocated. One 80-minute run would be worth 10 30-minute runs. One 180-minute run worth five 80-minute runs. Or so my theory goes.

Plus, from the busy-person perspective, fewer runs means less time getting ready for and cleaned up after runs.

I think I could be decent with this much training. Still, the question might be moot. Because with me, there’s a secondary question in whether I can even set aside this much time.

Is it enough?


To be continued…

Friday, February 13, 2015

Weed as a Performance Enhancer = BS

This article has been making the rounds because of its provocative postulating about whether marijuana is a performance enhancer in ultras. I am not a doctor. I am not a pothead. I am not a competitive ultrarunner. But I can say this with complete confidence: The idea that marijuana is a performance enhancer is total horeshit.

Jenn Shelton was quoted in the article saying, "the person who is going to win an ultra is someone who can manage their pain, not puke and stay calm," said veteran runner Jenn Shelton. "Pot does all three of those things."

Hmmm. Ok. While all that sounds plausible, what Ms. Shelton leaves out is that marijuana totally messes with your endocrine system. Dry mouth, inconsistent heart rate, irregular appetite, and, more than anything else, an overall sluggishness and lack of motivation. Do that while ultrarunning, and you're toast. And never mind the fact that marijuana doesn't exactly improve your coordination. Do it at Leadville and you'll be tripping every fourth step around the lake and on the Colorado Trail. Do it at Hardrock and you're likely to end up floating downstream in the San Juans.

Could you have a pot brownie at mile 93 and finish ok? Sure. Just like you could have a beer at mile 93 and finish just fine. Do it at mile 7 and you won't finish or won't finish anywhere near your potential, at a bare minimum.

How confident am I am about this fact? I'll bet anyone - anyone - $1000 they can't finish top five at Leadville this year while high the whole time. I'll be there and I'll be watching the leaders. If you can eat a pot brownie at the start, mile 25, the turnaround,  and mile 75, and still finish top five, I'll give you a $1000. It ain't gonna happen. The idea that you can be high at four in the morning and then go trade blows with Aish, Sharman, Krar, Zeke & Co. for 100 miles is an insult to the dedication and intensity of those athletes. And I don't think anyone who is a serious threat would even consider the challenge, because anyone capable of finishing top five knows how important having all your faculties in tune is to having a good race.

The only runner who is quoted as saying he's done it uses it exclusively as a "post-race, post-run remedy." To that point, in very limited quantities, that sounds plausible. But note how even he talks about levels. In the same way that if you take too much Advil and you could put yourself at serious risk, the same would apply to marijuana as a pain-reliever. Except that in large quantities it would just throw off your motivation and recovery, because your endocrine system would be overly taxed.

Could you consume small amounts post-run and still remain reasonably competitive? Sure. Just like you could have a few beers after every run and it would only have a marginal impact on performance. But to the extent that it's a pain reliever, I don't think its benefits would outweigh its drawbacks. And it could only be used as a pain reliever successfully in very modest quantities, at which point, I don't think it moves the needle. Either way, serious ultrarunners won't be consuming weed to improve their performance any time soon. The rigors of competing at the highest levels simply don't allow it.