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GP Week : Issue 174
20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: There’s a whining dirge of a song that I apologise for mentioning, because there’s a danger it’ll get stuck in your head like a broken record. But it kind of sums it all up for Westy. “Why does it always rain on me? In a sense, the days it rained on archetypal Aussie Battler Anthony West were the good ones. Bad conditions allowed his talent to shine through. Like his Assen 250 win and the occasional subsequent rostrum, as he battled on in 250, MotoGP and now Moto2 classes. That was one reason why he was so pleased with his first dry rostrum at Phillip Island a week ago. Another was that he’d been second also the week before in Malaysia. In the rain. Things at last were turning round. The pleasure would be short-lived. Just days later came news from the FIM: a banned substance had been detected in a sample taken from at the French GP. Sanction: disqualification from that race, and suspension for 30 days. He will miss Valencia. And the inevitable tag, pretty much unknown in bike GP racing: Drug Cheat. With the Lance Armstrong scandal still hot news, this was most untimely. It seems yet another utterly unfair down-turn for a rider once tagged for greatness by countryman Mick Doohan, but dogged by hard times and bad luck. The substance concerned – Methylhexaneamine – is controversial ... not because of its mild performance-enhancing effects but because it is contained in a number of over- the-counter sports supplements and patent medicines, including sinus treatments. There are other cases of athletes in other sports who have inadvertently fallen foul of the rules in the same way. One at least is still pending on appeal. It’s a transgression that might be made if you buy something over the counter because you’re feeling a bit sinusy. Or in Westy’s case, an apparently innocuous energy drink. Westy has broken the letter of the law with no malice aforethought or unsporting intent. Or any benefit to his racing, other than perhaps clearer nasal passages. The minor nature of his punishment – the equivalent of a rap on the knuckles – suggests that the authorities view it as relatively trivial. Rules are rules, and the FIM follows World Anti-Doping Agency lists. This particular drug seems to occupy a particularly grey area, which needs looking at. There remain motorcycle- only areas where rules are applied quite whimsically, in sharp contrast to this rigid enforcement. One is medical, where the rider has far too much say in his own fitness. In the case of Marquez last year, he went out for a test ride with double vision before voluntarily declaring himself unfit. Why was this possible? Another concerns dangerous riding. The current system is whimsical in the extreme – look at Marquez again, and the messed-up penalty at Catalunya. Time to tighten up. Many think there should be a formal yellow- and red-card system. Meanwhile I am surely not the only one who’d like to say to Westy: bad luck, mate. Why does it always rain on you? OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor DRUG CHEAT? OR VICTIM ONCE AGAIN? OPINION