Happiness is overrated.

In my daily work I do not only help elite athletes, but high-performers in all fields of life, celebrities, artists, actors, CEO’s, etc.
Sometimes we talk about life in general. Now here in Holland the trend is to focus on happiness. Happiness workshops, courses, books, apps, even happiness coaches have become very popular.
But I see some strange paradoxes here.
Peculiar, that we would need that, since Holland is, based on the statistics of the World Happiness Report with the top 7 countries in the world.(1) The Dutch are amongst the happiest people in the world! So why are these interventions necessary?
But I’ll tell you the truth, those statistics are not related to the reality of life.
In Holland we have 17 million inhabitants, and: (official numbers):
-1.4 million heavy drinkers (of alcohol)
-1.0 million people use cannabis
-1.2 million people use sleeping pills and of those 700.00 are addicted to these
-1.0 million people use anti-depressants
-1.0 million people use cocaine, amphetamines, GHB, XTC or heroin.

Then, add the people that eat to get rid of their mental discomfort (emotional eating) and the people who run, bike, or fitness compulsively, in order to feel better. For them a day without exercise is a bad day. So another 1-2 million people that just found a way to cope with their feeling is discomfort!
Real happy people don’t need to change their biochemistry by chemistry or other inventions!

The “happiness-industry” is working overtime, reading a book or going to a happiness-workshop or teaching other people how to become happy??

Come folks, get a life, a happy life for that one.
1- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

For further reading:
Smile or die – How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World –
Barbara Ehrenreich
The Happiness Myth – Why What We Think is Right is Wrong – Jennifer
Michael Hecht
The Happiness Industry – How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-
being – William Davies
Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has
Undermined America – Barbara Ehrenreich

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Speed myths – part 3: Good sprinting technique is crucial for good sprinting results.

My problem isn’t as much with the statement in itself as well with the word “good”.
Let me ask a few critical questions:
What does “good” actually mean? He/she is running fast, so it must his/her good technique must be good? And if he/she run slow technique must be “bad”? Which comes down to: the fastest guy has the best technique? Remember the upright running style of 400 meter runner Michael Johnson. If he would have been running 48 seconds his technique would have been qualified as “bad”, but he ran 43 seconds so it must have been good.
How do you know his/her technique is good? (apart from that he/she is running fast) Do you have some kind of perfect model where you relate to? A kind of perfect picture or movie going in your mind of somebody running this prefect technique? Can we actually measure good technique by biomechanics research? Or is there a wide margin of variation within sprinters? Or maybe within different races of a sprinter?
And suppose the technique of the sprinter that you are observing deviates from this perfect model in your mind. In other words, in your opinion his/her technique is not good enough, what are the steps you take to improve it? Does this work and how do you know? Can you change or improve one parameter without changing other ones at the same time?

I remember having a funny discussion with another Dutch coach who coached a high jumper of around 2.28 m. He stated his jumper could jump 2.40 m if only he would manage to jump with a take-off angle of if I recall 37.5 degrees.
I asked him of 37.0 or 38.0 degrees would be OK too. No, that wasn’t OK. So, the perfect technique for him must have been within a very small margin. My obvious question: “how do you know his take-off angle is 37.5 degrees? (apart from the fact that he has jumped 2.40 meter then). Well, he could see that with his naked eye…….. well ……Ok….. I am not blessed with an eye that can see the difference of half a degree within 150 msecs, but I envy the people who can.
Bottomline: think again about the technical model you apply to our athletes, for a large part athletes sprint the way they do for a reason (anatomical, physiological or biochemical). Also in this aspect: there is no one-size-fit-all for every sprinter. “The” technique does not exist, we only know different solutions to solve a motor problem. Solutions that vary from repetition to repetition.

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Speed myths – part 2: Get strong, sprint fast…

Strength training is an indispensable part of the training of elite sprinter, at least for most sprinters, not for all. I have personally coached good sprinters, man running sub.10 secs hardly being able to squat 80 kgs (180 lbs) or women running sub.11 secs having trouble squatting 50 kgs. (120 lbs.)
Had I not seen and tested them myself I would not have believed it. But also other sprinters like Carl Lewis or Kim Collins are known not having lifted heavy or at least not being as strong in lifting weights as other sprinters.
Nowadays, I see a lot of young sprinters hardly breaking the 11 secs barrier, but being able to squat 200 kgs (440 lbs). Something is out of balance here.

Most of the strength training for athletes comes from three sources (and I sketch it a little over the top). If, in former days, as a sprinter you wanted to get stronger, you got advice from 4 sources:

1. Bodybuilding: you want to get stronger, you need more muscle, so you make sets of 12-15 reps: no pain, no gain.

2. Powerlifting: these guys are the strongest people around, no doubts. But how is the relationship between having a high 1 RM in squats or deadlift related to running a fast 100 meter? (Ever seen how fast a powerlifter comes up from a squat?)

3. Olympic lifting: these guys are strong and explosive too, no doubts and at least there is power involved (the ability to generate a high power output). But still: what is the time for a clean or a snatch compared to the contact-time in sprinting? Basically you learn to generate power at low velocity.

4. Fitness: the fitness industry always comes up with new ways to get fitter (which is not necessarily the fitness needed to run a fast 100 meter): core stability exercise, Cross-fit, boot camp, they are just as important for sprinting as the Jane Fonda workout.

These approaches are al top-down, not keeping in mind the specific demands of sprinting at high speeds. One of the first approaches to create a bottom-up approach for strength training in sprint was the collaboration between sports scientist Carmelo Bosco and sprint Coach Carlo Vittori in the 1980’s. They looked at the specific demands of sprinting and created exercises and strength training programs accordingly.

Bottom line: when thinking about strength training for sprinters, look at good sprinters and their coaches, not at body-builders, powerlifters, Olympic lifters or fitness specialists.

Ask yourself how strong the sprinter needs to be in order to sprint faster.

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Speed myths – part 1: Sprinters are born.

When lecturing, I encounter a lot of ideas and concepts that are often taken for granted by a large part of the audience without any critical thinking about what is written or said.
In the form of a few blog posts I will try to clarify some of these sprinting and speed training myths.

Sprinters are born (?)
Yes, but so is everybody else. Were you born to be a coach, a therapist, a personal trainer? I doubt it. Elite sprinters look suspiciously like the average human being, at least from the outside, they don’t have three legs and when not in track clothes, you can’t distinguish them from the average Joe Doe.
One often hears the average person to be compared to a “donkey” and the elite sprinter to a “race horse”. But I hope one can see the difference between those from a distance! Elite sprinters belong to the same species as people who run 100 meters in 15 seconds: Homo sapiens.

Besides that, it is not very interesting, because looking at racing: donkeys seldom race against race horses. It’s donkeys against donkeys and race horses against race horses. Yes, and among racehorses there are faster ones and slower ones, just as there are fast and slow donkeys.

Sprinting speed is a quality consisting of many different components and processes. Some work against sprinting fast, and some promote fast sprinting. And I bet that Usain Bolt has more components to his advantage than you and I have. But whereas some components are not subject to change e.g. height or leg length, others can be trained or modified in the direction of higher sprinting speed, stride length, muscle fiber composition, body weight, reaction time, or technique.
However nobody will tell you this is an easy task (and if they did, they lied to you). If you take a fast 17 year old football player, he might run the 100 meters for the first time in 11.00 secs. After 10 years of training he might run 10.00 secs, quite good, still. But this is 10% improvement over 10 years, so basically we are looking at 1% improvement a year, if you are lucky. For this you might need 250-300 workouts a year. So the gain to be made in each workout is in average only 0.3% of 1%, that’s not a lot.

We are looking at marginal gains only. A careful tinkering with all the components and factors involved, and not too much room for useless exercises or concepts. In other words don’t waste your time with thoughtless exercises. There is no linear thinking involved here: an improvement in some factors involved might not directly translate into an improved sprinting performance!

Bottom line: of course, sprinters are born and genetic predisposition definitely helps. But I have seen very gifted sprinters fail to fulfill their potential, and much less gifted (read born) sprinters go a long way and beating them or sprinting faster, just due to proper coaching. Smart coaching still makes a difference.

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Making a difference (by not having to use smartphone).

Lecturing a lot for different audiences for about 35 years allows me to notice changes in the transfer of information and the value of knowledge and experience.
One of the most heard answers I get when asking a question nowadays is: “I don’t know yet, but I can look it up”. It’s hard to imagine an expression that peeves me as much as this one.
Mainly lecturing for an audience of coaches or therapists, one might assume that they are professionals. And professionals who I assume to be making a difference. Individuals that are proud of their job, are on the way to become masters in their profession and have a drive to become the best in their field or least try to. After all: why hiring a coach or paying a therapist while anybody can do a job as well as they do?
My answer therefore is often the same: “well, a 6 year old girl can do that too, so what does that mean?” And true any 6 year old kid can type in a word in Google and get the same result like you do. That does not make you smarter, does it?
Another often heard expression is: “I read somewhere that …..”. And 9 out of 10 times it was read on the Internet, since the modern generation of coaches and therapists seldom reads hardcopy books or journals.
The Internet of Things is a huge garbage-heap of information, unsorted, undifferentiated, biased like nothing else. So, welcome to dumpster-diving, hoping to find an answer you like. And you certainly will, because the Internet will confirm any opinion you might want to have anyway. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet can be a useful tool, but using it as crutch for the lack of present knowledge, as a bypass for lack of experience, is not the right way to become the best coach or therapist you can be.
Can you imagine Usain Bolt asking Glen Mills: “Coach, why do we do this work-out? And Glenn saying: “I don’t know yet, but I can look it up?” For Usain Bolt and Glenn Mills you can replace by any elite athlete and elite coach. Elite coaches know what works for their athletes, they don’t have to look that up.
The most powerful tools of the coach are curiosity, creativity and patience, not the ability to browse the Internet.
Patience does not equal waste of time, or absence of speed, it’s time to reflect, to think, to solidify or to be creative. Hurry or the perception of time pressure seldom create creative thinking. Take a break, dare to slack.

Some, useful books:
James Gleick: Faster
Thomas L. Friedman: Thank you for being late
Carl Honore: In praise of slow
Carlo Petrini; Slow Food

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A book and random thoughts.

I finally found the time and mindset to write a post for my blog, I have been hooked up in many projects the last couple of months.
There is time to read and learn, a time to experiment and to try, a time to evaluate and a time to report or publish. One of my projects was figuring out how we can amplify (read: increase) the effect of training in an effective, simple and legal way. Not an easy task, since one first has to study the intricate network of metabolic, hormonal and neurochemical pathways in order to be able to modify these processes. More about this, later.

Being an obsessive reader, not only technical books, I am also fond of (auto-biographies) of athletes. The best book I read the last couple of years was written by an athlete of my generation, Olympic (1984) steeple runner Hans Koeleman. His book “Olympians” (in Dutch) is about his preparation for the 1984 Olympics in LA, and mainly plays in South-Carolina. In a style often reminding me of Ernest Hemingway, it deserves a place between the great books about running such as Silitoe’s “The loneliness of the long-distance runner” and Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. It is a very familiar insight in the life of the elite athlete, his dreams, his doubts, hopes, fears, disappointments and his unbreakable motivation to become an Olympian. A must-read for every track athlete (at least in the Netherlands).

Laser or torchlight?
In my opinion, a coaches’ mind should be like a light. This is the function of our mental capacity “attention”. Sometimes it has to function as a laser pointer, looking at the small details, focused, trying to point something out. But there are situations where a laser pointer is doomed to fail, e.g. if you want to look for something. Try and find your lost house keys in the dark. Then you need a torchlight, which gives you a wider scope, a broader view. Ideally one can switch rapidly from laser to torchlight and back, depending on the situation. Unfortunately many people get stuck in one of the two modes.
Let me get into torch light mode.

What is the main characteristic in elite sports? Many of you will say: competition, the will to win, to go for the record, the medal or the victory. But I would like to think it is: exploration, the stumbling into unknown territory one seldom reaches in normal daily life. The frequent battle against between one’s own doubts, fears, limitations, anxieties on the one hand and at the other end one’s dreams, capacities, hopes, drives, ambition, mindset and willpower. Also very well described in “Olympians”. This is the main competition, the competition with yourself and your limitations, a competition easily lost. Many athletes are their own worst enemy, lacking deep self-confidence, the fear of not being good enough in their own opinion or the opinion of others. Often this is then compensated by radiating superficial self-confidence.
It’s obvious that the role of a coach is important in this aspect. Every workout is a mental workout, an opportunity to build justified confidence gradually day by day, one small piece at a time until the athlete becomes unbreakable. Unfortunately it is also possible to gradually chip away the athlete’s confidence – a road not to be traveled of course. And …. ten sessions with the sports psychologist seldom help.

In my daily job, helping high-performers, inside and outside sports, to deal with stress, stress-related problems and fatigue, I often notice the gradual change of my clients over the years. Many young people slowly seem to loose contact with the real world and seem affected by the grip of the virtual life of social media, and modern means of communication, having to connect and to share “everything with everybody”, especially their Facebooks friends. But who are those “friends” on Facebook, this “community”? People you never met and most probably never will, but who share a certain interest, cat videos on Youtube, or trying to surprise you with a picture of what they ate for lunch. Nowadays many people get lost in the tsunamis of information that the Internet and social media bring.

When discussing with young coaches it seems they overestimate their knowledge and expertise. They tell me: “I don’t know, but I can look it up” . Big deal, anybody can look it up, so your knowledge level is like anybody else’s. You don’t make a difference and, you don’t become a game-changer by the ability to look things up on the internet. I like to describe this Googling for information as “dumpster-diving”: diving into that huge garbage can of information to see if you can find something useful.

In former days smart people knew a lot, there was no internet and their manifest knowledge set them apart. These days one needs to be able to filter and be able to separate solid information from nonsense or thoughtless opinions. To be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, truth from lie, science from marketing.

Last but no least I would like to draw your attention to some webcasts and podcasts I contributed to e.g.
www.RonMcKeefery.com/184
http://www.just-fly-sports.com/podcast-20-henk-kraaijenhof/

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My book and China trip

Book

Yes, hard to believe but my first book about sprinting came out last week. It isn’t meant for sport scientists. Coaching (sprints) still is more of an art than a science. Averaged values and generalized principles hardly play a role in daily coaching. Especially when we are working with individuals who are very unique in many aspects.

What we need is speed

What we need is speed

As a young coach (full of knowledge from books and research) I learned that many things applied to the average athletes I was coaching at that time. But when I encountered my first really gifted world-class athlete, and let’s call here athlete A, my knowledge failed me. I did not know she would become world-class at the time. I only knew she was different form the average athletes I was coaching so far.

Everything I had learned to be valid, true and effective did not apply to this unique specimen. I had to come up with creative solutions to the problem of not running fast enough. At that time, in the beginning of the nineteen eighties, not much had been written about coaching elite sprinters. By thinking and trial-and-error I found a better way to coach this particular athlete and yes, world-class she became. This had never been explained to me by the books I read nor the teachers I listened to.

When I was asked to coach an even faster female sprinter, let’s call her athlete B, I first hesitated. My experience level was just over 11 seconds, not 10.80’s. But armed with my new experiences, I decided to take on this new challenge. I was in for a shock again because the experience with athlete A did not at all help me at all. Everything I learned from athlete A to be useful for her, did not work for athlete B. Needless to say that also my textbook knowledge from the past did not help me at all.
Then for me the light started blinking: maybe we have to look on a strict individual basis. Information derived from experiments with average athletes, sports students, or even patients, might not one-on-one apply, be useful or effective for coaching genetic exceptions. And experience derived from working with athlete A, might not apply to athlete B at all.

Here is the synopsis: develop your program, based on the athlete, don’t develop your athlete based on your program!

http://www.uaconceptsstore.com/product-p/what-we-need-is-speed.htm

Shanghai

I was invited to come to China to lecture at the Shanghai University of Sports. Quite an honor and a challenge. I have been in China before and have very fond memories of that trip. It was in 1990, when I was Director of Coaching in Oman and Oman participated in the Asian Games, staged in Beijing, probably as a rehearsal for the Olympic Games to come in 2000.

Beijing Asian Games 1990

Beijing Asian Games 1990

It was perfect, one of the smoothest competitions, I have ever visited. In perspective, maybe not a miracle, if one can run a country of a billion people, you have to be able to run a sports competition one should say. The logistics and organization should be a piece of cake. But It wasn’t only that – it was also the people, the hospitality and the incredible drive to assist us where they could.
I came back with a very positive first-hand experience of China. And yes, my athlete won a gold-medal, but that was something I already got used too.

Now 26 years later, a positive surprise again, China made a huge leap forwards. In many aspects China is setting course for the future. Apart from the development of the metropole that Shanghai is, almost 25 million inhabitants more than the whole of the Netherlands or the whole of Australia, it felt like being in European city or a city like Melbourne, Sydney, New York or Los Angeles.
The magnetic high-speed train from the airport to the city, the ultramodern high-rise buildings, everything breathes the air of a city for the future. Of course like any large city Shanghai has its problems and so does China. But at least they are trying hard and they are making headway.

The sports university is large, 4000 students, with big sports complexes for indoor and outdoor sports.
There is a mix of high-tech and valued culture, state-of the-art lecturing halls and typical Chinese gardens for students and the teachers to relax.

dscf2019

I realize my presentations must have been sort of a shock for some coaches. Coming from a very small country we have very few athletes and therefore have to take very good care of them and not to lose them. In a country with the population of China, for every talent we have in the Netherlands they must have 100 talents of the same level. The same applies to the USA and to Russia.

Lecturing in Shanghai

Lecturing in Shanghai

This advantage can backfire since the development process might become a kind of survival-of-the -fittest. When all athletes are given the same hard training program, only the very strongest will survive and they will be very good. But wouldn’t China be better off when 20, 50 or even 80 athletes of those hundred do well instead of only a handful “survivors”? The fact that there will always be a handful of very good ones left, disguises the weakness of this concept. Having so many athletes is a luxury, a luxury that creates the danger of coaches not having to adapt, to change, to develop, to be open-minded or to be creative. No matter what there will always be a few athletes left.

The reality of elite sports is hard. The excellent hurdler Liu Xiang probably was the best hurdler we ever saw. Still he did not get a medal during the Olympics in London in 2012, due to an injury, and even worse, he also did not win a medal in Beijing during the Olympics in 2008, again due to an injury. All of this after already winning the Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004. I am not saying he would have won the gold in both cases but he certainly had the potential to do so.

Most athletes as this level are not reaching their full potential due to training too little, training being too easy or undertraining. It is overtraining that leads to flat performances, to fatigue, to acute or chronic injuries, stopping athletes to unfold their full potential. In my opinion this is where a tremendous gain is still to be made.

I would like to thank my Chinese friends for their hospitality, they turned this trip into a delight.
Thanks Tom, Naomi, Zack and Kiki!

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It has been some time.

I have been slacking a bit with my blog posts. I often stated that as a coach I use a three phase cycle. First, the phase of information-acquisition such as reading, listening, and observing. Then the second phase of processing and implementing the new information, basically experimenting or trying things out in real life. And then there is the third phase of evaluating and sharing the information, which comes down to get to the core of the information and writing and lecturing. These last couple of months I have gone back to first phase: gathering information. I bought and downloaded several thousands of books covering a very wide spectrum of subjects.

book-downloads-till-sept-2016

The buying and downloading might been a matter of days, but reading them takes a little bit longer, even though my reading speed is beyond the scale and many books contain overlapping information. No, I did not read them all yet. This is the issue of reading a lot: it becomes more difficult to read something really new. I also cautiously started working with the new information. Next to the specific information for my work as educator and coach, mainly about sports, I always try to read about a range of different subjects. First of all to stay sane and to not become myopic or lost, and also to keep seeing things in perspective and to avoid boredom.

Of course the summer season saw a lot of turbulence in sports e.g. the Olympics in Rio.
One could observe a few things during the Olympics in Rio: as I have stated before, despite the deceiving numbers presented by the organizers, I saw more empty seats than ever before – it was shocking sometimes. To me it shows again that the Olympics are past their expiry date.

We also saw the ban of the Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics. A useless symbolic political move which does not at all affect the Russian system which is blamed for the systematic state supported use of doping. No, I am pretty sure the Russian designers and controllers of the system were watching the Olympics from their VIP seats in Rio. It shows once and again that sport is heavily “polluted’ by global politics. It is just a large and expensive circus with the expected outcome for the organizing city: the city of Rio is bankrupt and had barely have enough money left to stage the Paralympics.
Olympics: milking and manipulating the masses for the profit and power of few. Athletes have become just an alibi, disposable pawns for personal interests of few powerful people. Too bad seeing this happening over the years.

We also saw that WADA, the crusaders for clean sports, did really nothing to support whistleblower Julia Stepanova and her family. Her case was moving fast from one organization to another: IOC, WADA, IAAF, CAS, nobody had the courage and took the responsibility to stand up for her. And even worse, WADA isn’t even capable of protecting the confidential data of the where-about system of Julia, thus putting her life and the lives of her family in danger by having their database system hacked. Who knows who now knows Julia’s last address. It forced her and her family to be on the move again. This definitely is not a motivation boost for any whistleblower, unless they want to commit social and financial suicide.

But we also saw incredible performances. For me stood out: the unbelievable 400 m of Wade van Nieuwkerk. He became Olympic champion and broke the world record from the outside lane. The performance of the US 4×100 women, smart enough to finish their race after the mess at one of the exchanges, then qualifying running all by themselves, and to top it off by becoming Olympic champion from lane one, beating the Jamaican team. The Olympics are also the opportunity to watch and observe other sports, the ones that you don’t see nor watch normally, in my case e.g. archery. What a nerve wracking event, I became a fan immediately!

In between all these I had my lecturing tour in the USA, felt a little bit a rock star, but then without the groupies and the drugs. Yes, a few excellent local beers, but that was about it. First to CVASPS in Richmond, in my top 3 of best seminars at the moment, taking everything into consideration and getting better every year.
This year my dear friend and colleague Jay deMayo came out with “The Manual” Vol.1 a collection of chapters by different authors in which I wrote the chapter about Muscle-fiber specific training.

CVASPS Jay deMayo

by CVASPS Jay deMayo

Then off to Madison, seeing two other friends and colleagues: Jim Snider and Erik Helland, in the great city between the lakes, great university too. Last stop was Minneapolis, home base of my dynamic friend Cal Dietz. Lecturing with Cal and Chris Korfist, who I know for the longest time already, working with vibration platforms and power-measurements.
Also in the last few months, I finished my first book about sprint and sprint training published by Elite Athlete Concepts and just is about to come out. But believe me, writing a book is a time consuming activity.

One of the main topics of my recent studies is ways to improve organ and cellular functioning by modifying signaling pathways. We do this all the time e.g. by living, by nutrition and by exercising. But for me that is not enough, I would like to do this more specifically and selectively, thus supporting the processes already being modified by nutrition and exercise. These pathways can be stimulated by bioactive compounds of which there are many thousands, or by electro-magnetic waves with the right waveform, frequency and amplitude.

Every cell has many ion channels, receptors or transporters that are dependent on electromagnetic forces as well as the presence of chemical substances like hormones, neurotransmitters or ions. It is not an easy task comprehending all of this, I can tell you. But the combined knowledge of many researchers, published in many of those thousands of books and oh, still I forgot the thousands of articles next to those, helped me a great deal in understanding the ways this can be done. I found some extremely interesting concepts and applications and am currently experimenting with these to see if the theoretical possibilities will match real life challenges.

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Trust us…… we’re scientists or doctors

As you may have noticed in my recent blogs, I am getting a bit worried about the level of injustice and inequality in elite sports. What surprises me more I that very few people who definitely should, take the effort (or is it the courage?) to stand up or speak out.

Still I try to increase the awareness of my colleagues (athletes, coaches, therapist, scientists) about the issues that I perceive as being unfair and slowly but surely more people start seeing this too. I am doing the job that this generation of athletes and coaches should be doing, but maybe they are still naïve, maybe they just not smart enough to see the obvious and understand that one day it might hit them.
Or they are short-sighted opportunists who think that somebody else will stand up and solve their problems, maybe they are afraid of repercussions, to lose support or lose their job when they speak out. Who will tell? It’s a though and stupid job, but I have no talent for giving up.
One of the things that nobody seems to care about is the competence of the doping testing labs in which we have to put our trust.

Here is a time line of lab suspensions and lost accreditations:
April 2004 Seoul -Korea
March 2009 Ankara-Turkey
March 2009 Penang-Malaysia
April 2010- Bogota -Colombia
May 2011 Tunis -Tunesia
May 2011 Ankara- Turkey
January 2012 Rio de Janeiro-Brazil
November 2912 Bangkok-Thailand
December 2012 Madrid-Spain
August 2013 Rio de Janeiro-Brazil
November 2013 Sotchi -Russia
November 2015 Moscow -Russia
February 2016 Rio de Janeiro-Brazil (third time)
April 2016 Beijing-China
April 2016 Lisbon-Portugal
May 2016 Bloemfontein-South Africa
June 2016 Madrid -Spain

I am sure that I would not board a plane from an airline, or get surgery in a hospital with this failure rate.

Note:
We know that the former GDR anti-doping labs were only used for preventive testing of their own athletes, not to detect doping use. The double-role of Manfred Hoeppner is well described. (1)
Even the “godfather of anti-dopingtests” from West Germany, Manfred Donike,a that time, had a double agenda as it now seems. (2)
The role of the US doping labs has also been called doubtful in this respect, and with a reason. Read the books and articles of Dr.Robert Voy or Dr.Wade Exum, who were in charge of USA doping testing.(3)

The doping lab in Rome has a terrible reputation, but seemed to have gotten away with it all the time.
Many doping samples there have disappeared into the sink, in 1998 and 2005, as revealed by judge Guariniello, especially the samples of soccer players. Or do you assume that a doping tester really would risk his/her job by doing this for free???
Also you wouldn’t bet your life on the doping lab in Lisbon, read the horror story of athlete Diane Modahl. (4)

In recent times we know the role of Gabriel Dolle, the IAAF-doctor in charge of testing, who too, money, a looooot of money, for making positive test results miraculously disappear.
This week IAAF medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier, got a no more than a symbolic reprimand.

These are only the failures that came to light, and I might even have neglected a case or two, but you get the drift: these doping labs, where the future of athletes can be decided, you can’t come to another conclusion than that they have to be managed by totally incompetent people, who even after two previous suspensions don’t seem to get the job done. This is one of the reason why in former days you A sample and you B sample were tested in different labs, but probably due to coming too many discrepancies to light now the A and B sample have to be tested in the same lab, so an error will still be an error, and nobody will notice.
Apart from being incompetent, which is easy to detect, some of them are corrupt as well, take the Rome doping lab and the labs in Sochi and Moscow . The Lausanne lab in Switzerland destroyed lab samples from Russia in conflict with the rules, and so on.

Yes, millions of taxpayers Euro’s or dollars have been wasted on incompetent anti-doping labs.
The level of science used to detect doping tests ranges from sloppy to pure alchemy . The testing procedures themselves as well as the statistical validation don’t match modern scientific standards. Fortunately is easy to impress the general public or sports politicians with these pimped results, and the exaggerated threat of a “doping epidemic”.
One of the rare responses to criticism on this could be found in a laboratory journal, Lab Times, which had the guts to notice and to report the disproportionate failures of the WADA testing labs. They found out that the head of WAADS , Peter van Eenoo, He wrote a malicious letter to the editor of the journal. Citation: (5)
“Ghent, October 8th, 2015 (…) In a recent issue of [Lab Times], a paper was published that we consider as a deliberate and unfair attack on WAADS, the World Anti-Doping Agency and one of our laboratories.
(…)
Your company is one of the companies (…) which has supplied us with instruments for many years. As you are an important sponsor of “Lab Times”, we want to inform you that we consider that the
article and behaviour of “Lab Times” reflects badly on your company.
We doubt that you would wish to endorse these practices.”

This is just a disguised form of blackmail, which shows us the level of integrity of these people.
But the editors of the journal finely remarked: Citation:
“Rather than attacking those who expose the facts, Mr van Eenoo, shouldn’t you be tackling WADA laboratories’ many shocking deficiencies instead?”

Do you think I am exaggerating? You can only hope that I got it all wrong and that you or your athletes will never become involved in a situation where you depend on the quality and integrity of doping labs. But as usual only time will tell.
Read the books or articles below to start with or better yet, just watch the news.

1 Steve Ungerleider: Faust’s Gold, Thomas Dunne Books, 2001.
2 Sueddeutsche Zeitung 8. August 2013: Studie “Doping in Deutschland” Kontrolleure sollen selbst manipuliert haben. (Researchproject “Doping in Germany”: dopingtesters themselves have manipulated testresults)
3 Robert Voy: Drugs, Sports and Politics; Leisure Press, 1991.
4 Diane Modahl : The Diane Modahl Story; Hodder Stoughton, UK, 1995.
5 Lab Times, Issue 6, November 2015, pg.3.

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A provocative thought

1963: most of you probably weren’t born. But one of the greatest news items was the Great Train Robbery In Great Britain. A group of 15 men stopped a mail train that also transported money and robbed it from 2.6 million pounds (with correction today’s value would be around 60 million Euro-divided by 15 is 4 million Euro per person).
The train driver got a knock on the head, nobody was killed and nothing was damaged. The robbers were sentenced to up to 30 years in jail.

Now it’s 2016: three officials of FIFA, Blatter, Valcke and Kattner robbed 71 million Euro (and still counting) of the organization they were supposed to lead and support. For this job they were handsomely paid. Divided by 3 this makes around 24 million Euro a person.
They regarded the federation they were supposed to govern as their personal wallet where they could take out money when and as much as it pleased them. Non-aggressive psychopaths. Just the same brand like the former president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, his son, and their little gang, and they are not the only ones out there.

Still, none of these three is in jail nor will they spend the next 30 years in jail. My idea is that they won’t even see the inside of a jail at all. Kattners contract was terminated and Blatter and Valcke are banned from football-related activities for 8 and 12 years. Wow, that will teach them.

But what is wrong here socially speaking?
Maybe you remember Marion Jones, who spent time in jail as a result of her taking illegal performance enhancing agents. One of the athletes I coached, Erik Wijmeersch, has spent some time in jail, but was later acquitted of all charges.
I have been busting my brain about this (maybe I should start using nootropics) why this tremendous inequality in justice exists. Why officials can get away with serious offences and athletes in the meanwhile have to face jail and other disproportionate punishments for something like taking doping. How can we still talk about justice, or about level playing field. What surprises me even more that very few people in sports speak out about this.
I just read a book by a good colleague of mine, Frank Schaper , The Dictator Virus, (in Dutch) in which he meticulously analyzes the behavior of dictators past to present.

 Het Dictator Virus - Frank Schaper

Het Dictator Virus – Frank Schaper

He concluded that that dictators show ten similar characteristics:
• megalomania
• self-enrichment (71 million Euro)
• cult-like behavior
• self-justification (everything is alright)
• fraud
• propaganda (the first international World Forum of Ethics in Sports was hosted by FIFA)
• conservation of power (stay in power as long as possible)
• expansionism
• secrets
• rule by terror or fear

Apart from the last factor, the people mentioned above display 9 out of 10 characteristics.

Since many sports politicians are talking about “cleaning up the sport”, why just not start at the very top?
A suggestion could be to bring the death penalty back for people who damage society on this scale. It happens. Government officials or CEO’s have been executed for economic crimes like embezzlement, bribery or even attempt of fraud. Execution is perceived as a way to get rid of incurable psychopaths, predators and dictators. Remember the Ceaucescu’s and Ghadaffi. ‘Good riddance’ as the British say.

My call to the people at the top of the sports federations is to demand the most severe punishment available. Not by sports arbitration and not some cowardly symbolic punishment, but to file suit at a criminal court. The coming months will show how the sports federations are taking stance in this case: are they ready to really and seriously change the world of sports or will it be a slap on wrist and just looking away.

Provocative thought, like I stated.

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