April 22, 2014

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain rides with former Astana sports director Johan Bruyneel (far right) in 2009. Bruyneel was handed a 10-year ban on Tuesday.     Photo: Associated Press

Armstrong's Manager Banned 10 Years

For involvement in the doping conspiracy

Johan Bruyneel—who served as team director during each of Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories—was banned 10 years for his involvement in the "doping conspiracy."

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced the ban Tuesday after an independent arbitration panel found Bruyneel to be "at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams spanning many year and many riders."

Former U.S. Postal Service team staff Pedro Celaya and Jose "Pepe" Martí were also banned for eight years. Armstrong was banned for life in 2012.  

This might be the end of the road for the U.S. Postal Service case, but it's certainly not the end of the story. The USADA report reveals Martí was working for two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador's team Saxo-Tinkoff, despite a public declaration stating otherwise.

Contador, one of the top contenders for the 2014 Tour de France, worked with Martí on his two previous teams, but he denied any involvement with the coach after Floyd Landis accused Martí of being a "drug trafficker" in 2011.

Now, USADA is effectively calling Contador a liar. If the agency is right, the famous Spanish rider could face a rather awkward situation.

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These shoes are made completely from trash found on UK beaches.     Photo: Everything Is Rubbish

These Shoes Are Garbage!

Cool Brit kicks made from trash

How many shoes do you own? How often do you wear them before you buy a new pair? For Earth Day (that's today, folks), consider how much material you have contributed to the landfill over the years from your shoes alone. 

Everything Is Rubbish, a UK-based recycling art project, makes the argument that your shoes are rubbish—that "everything you buy is rubbish"—and they emphasize this by crafting shoes out of the discarded refuse they find on the beach, Grist.org reports.

The project, created by Charles Duffy, William Gubbins, and Billy Turvey, involved collecting trash on UK beaches, melting it down, and forming sheets of material used to assemble shoes. The process is quite fascinating (you can watch the video here).

The recycled footwear is anything but trashy—it actually looks pretty stylish. The shoes aren't for sale though. Their purpose, Everything Is Rubbish founders say, is to represent buying less and fixing what is broken. The shoes make a thought-provoking point, but we're not suggesting you wear things found in a Dumpster this Earth Day.

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Ever wonder who's the first one on the subway in the morning?     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ViewApart

New York City Workday Starts Latest

Of all American cities

Hop off the subway, grab a coffee, and enjoy it on the High Line for a few minutes. Check your watch. For most New Yorkers, the workday begins at 8:24 a.m.

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver crunched some numbers this morning to find the median time Americans begin their workday in given metro areas, and New Yorkers get into the office later than any other U.S. city.

It is a median number, which for Silver's analysis means 25 percent of New Yorkers arrive by 7:28 a.m. and 75 percent get in by 9:32. Las Vegas's median gap puts 75 percent of its workforce off the charts (which covers the 7 to 10 a.m. block).

New York is also the second most caffeinated city in America, next to Chicago (arrival time: 8:02 a.m.), spending about three times the national average on coffee, according to Bundle research from 2011.

For a lesson in getting the worm, see Hinesville, Georgia; Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Jacksonville, North Carolina. Their workforces all arrive before 7:20 a.m.

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A plan to introduce powdered alcohol into U.S. markets might be going up in smoke.     Photo: pcruciatti/ThinkStock

Trouble Brewing for Powdered Alcohol

Palcohol approved, unapproved within two weeks

Where alcohol goes, poor decision-making has long been known to follow. A whiplash approval and reversal of a new product's legality only underscores that idea.

After four years of waiting, a powdered alcohol additive known as Palcohol was given label approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on April 8. Not two weeks later, however, bureau representative Tom Hogue informed the Associated Press that the approval of seven Palcohol labels had been made in error.

Parent company Lipsmark quickly took to Palcohol's official website to explain the mixed feelings: 

There seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag. There was a mutual agreement for us to surrender the labels. This doesn't mean that Palcohol isn't approved. It just means that these labels aren't approved. We will resubmit labels. We don't have an expected approval date as label approval can vary widely.

If Palcohol's labels are reapproved, consumers will be able to create alcoholic beverages "on the go" by adding a packet (or 12) of one of Palcohol's six flavors—including Mojito, Cosmopolitan, and Puerto Rican rum—to water.

Creator Matt Phillips says he got the idea to devise the more rebellious version of Crystal Light when he wanted to take alcoholic drinks along on trail rides or hikes but didn't want to drag heavy bottles up mountains. Palcohol was expected to land on shelves this fall.

Adding to Palcohol's drinking problems, news organizations picked up on some less savory language on the product's website. The initial product page seems to suggest increased alcohol consumption and recognizes the ability to "get drunk almost instantly" by snorting Palcohol, "because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose."

Palcohol has since distanced itself from the language, writing, "We were experimenting with some humorous and edgy verbiage about Palcohol. It was not meant to be our final presentation of Palcohol."  

Some in the industry are surprised Palcohol was ever approved. A blogger for Lehrman Beverage Law noted the hurdles of state law, market competition, and general health concerns that should give Palcohol a hard time actually reaching stores.

"I am not astonished that this is a real product," the blogger wrote, "but I am absolutely astonished that this got approved."

Don't let the hooplah dampen your spirits. In the meantime, stick to traditionally brewed alcohols or consider branching out.

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The rise in European package vacations has contributed to more skin cancer in the southeastern UK, according to a new study.     Photo: Ridofranz/Thinkstock

Skin Cancer Doubles in Southeast UK

Holiday tans to blame

Skin cancer rates have doubled in southeastern Britain over the past 20 years, according to a new report from Cancer Research UK. (Stateside, the incidience of the cancer has risen by 1.6 percent annually between 2001 and 2010.) With a rise in package holidays to Europe, the must-have tan, and a lack of sunscreen as the suspected culprits, some 2,000 people develop malignant melanoma in the UK region each year.

The latest statistics show that 19 people out of 100,000 are diagnosed with melanoma annually in the southeastern UK. That figure was as low as nine during the early 1990s.

Beyond lack of sun protection on vacations and the popularity of the tanned look, Cancer Research UK also points to the rise of tanning beds as a major factor in growing skin cancer numbers. The report also explains that doctors and technology have become better at finding and diagnosing the disease.

For those affected by skin cancer, melanoma treatment has developed substantially to where eight out of 10 people will survive the disease. Cancer Research UK's study coincides with a partnership with Nivea Sun, which is launching a major sun-safety campaign this summer.

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