Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pandemic

Seth Merrow of Equidaily.com writes a commentary today on the Jeff Mullins detention barn incident that happened at Aqueduct a couple of weeks ago. He believes (and he makes a good point) that much of the chatter has been blown out of proportion.

My problem with the initial coverage and subsequent reaction wasn't that the story was covered, but how it was covered. I contend the story is what it is: A detention barn violation. However it was almost immediately elevated in tone to a cautionary tale of horse-doping and a black-eye for the game -- which I don't think was fair to the racing industry.


This statement is probably true, but the reason that it is true I believe is because of the state of the industry. For 100 years or more, people have tried to get an edge in racing, oft times by nefarious means. The fan base, and the training base is sick and tired of it. It is pandemic. So when they see something like this happen, they get fired up.

Trust me, it is far worse in track and field, and especially so in cycling. If a cyclist is caught with a machine in his hotel room the night before stage one of the Tour de France and it is injecting orange juice into his veins, where orange juice is perfectly legal but not something allowed twelve hours before a stage, the outrage in European newspapers would make this Mullins incident coverage look like childs play. Reaction to an incident like that is pandemic to the sport of cycling, because of its history of doping. It is the way it is, until fans and the business feel like they are being heard, or they see progress on this front.

Not coincidentally, today Equidaily runs a piece titled "April 23rd Hearing Set in Dutrow Case". This was for a violation almost one year ago. He has not stopped training in the meantime.

We have a long way to go in the business to get people confident in it again. The Mullins incident is simply a catalyst, allowing people to vent frustrations about a much larger problem that has been around for generations. This will not be the last time we visit this topic.

2 comments:

Teresa said...

I agree with Seth as well, and with what you say about the state of the industry. One of the problem is that all such incidents are painted with the same brush: they're all cheaters. Some are cheaters; some have fallen victim to equine biology when a medication legally administered doesn't get out of a bloodstream fast enough; some are mistakes.

Then, people with little or no knowledge of the facts of a situation or its context freely weigh in with ill-informed opinions, disseminating misinformation, and that, too, reflects poorly on the sport.

Fans really interested in getting the sport to fix itself don't do it any favors with these sorts of overwrought, premature reactions.

On another note: unbelievable about the Dutrow hearing. Just unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Do breaking rules in itself make one a cheater?
Are there different degrees of breaking the rules to which discipline should be doled out according to the degree?
Mullins broke a rule, which makes him a cheater.
The industry/bloggers should continue to identify those who break the rules and ensure they are dealt with accordingly.
I believe those who 'blow it out of proportion' are those who don't have confidence in the discipline process.
Perhaps a Dutrow hearing 12 months after the fact reinforces those thoughts of a lack of confidence in the process, hence the need to high light or ‘blow out of proportion’ any rule infraction??
If the industry can in still confidence in the process, the incidence of blowing things out of proportion will cease!