January 10, 2013

Armstrong climbing Aspen Mountain at the Power of Four mountain bike race in Aspen, CO on August 25, 2012.     Photo: Beelde Photography

Tygart: WADA Head Helped Armstrong Beat EPO Tests

Admission by head of Swiss lab

Yep, more Lance news! Yesterday, USADA CEO Travis Tygart appeared on Showtime’s new 60 Minute Sports series to address all things Armstrong. Tygart says that Martial Saugy, head of the WADA lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, admitted to helping Armstrong avoid positive tests for EPO in the early aughts.

He recounted a 2010 conversation with Saugy concerning Armstrong’s sample from the 2001 Tour de Suisse:

He sat beside me and said: "Travis, there is a sample from Lance Armstrong that indicates Lance Armstrong used EPO." He also told us that he had been ordered by the UCI to meet Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel to explain the method of detecting EPO. So I asked him: "Did you give Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel the keys to beating EPO tests?" And he nodded his head for yes. He explained to them, just the two of them. As far as I know, it’s unprecedented. It’s totally incorrect to meet an athlete with a suspect result and explain to him how the test works.

In the interview, Tygart also revealed that Armstrong attempted to donate around $250,000 to USADA in 2004. Here’s a clip from the show:


    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Town Asks for Help to Free Trapped Orcas (Updated)

12 whales trapped under sea ice

A community in the far northern region of Quebec is asking for government assistance to help free roughly a dozen killer whales that have become trapped under the sea ice. Inukjuak mayor Peter Inukpuk asked the government on Wednesday to send an icebreaker to help free the whales, which have been videotaped gathered around the same hole in the ice, gasping for air.

Time is running out for the whales, as the hole is rapidly shrinking. A Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokeman said in a statement that they are sending representatives to assess the situation, but indicated that they might not be able to help.

According to cetacean researcher Christian Ramp, who spoke to CBC News, the trapped whales may be indicative of disturbing fallout from climate change.

He said what makes this case unique is that it could be the first sighting of killer whales in the Canadian Arctic in January. Unlike narwhals, belugas, and bowheads, orcas are not an ice-loving species, Ramp said, following their prey north during the summer months but retreating before the ice moves in. He said with climate change, it appears the animals are straying further and further north—and perhaps, staying too long.

Hopefully this plays out like Operation Breakthrough in 1988, in which icebreakers were able to free two of three gray whales trapped in the Beaufort Sea—and not like the 2005 incident in the Japanese Arctic where the whales’ hole froze over and they drowned.

UPDATE: A small boy with a big heart has helped the whales jump to safety. Kidding: According to ABC News, the floes shifted and the orcas were able to swim to out.


    Photo: Luis Stortini Sabor/ Shutterstock

Scouting Begins for Mars Settlement Reality Show

Apply to join the 2023 colony

At a loose end? Possess no real skill set, but eager to prove your mettle? Why not apply for Earth's first interplanetary settlement!

The Dutch company Mars One, which seven months ago announced its intention to establish a series of permanent colonies on Mars, has released their selection criteria for their 2023 one-way mission. And, surprisingly, they're not asking much.

Applicants need to be at least 18 years of age, have a deep sense of purpose, willingness to build and maintain healthy relationships, the capacity for self-reflection, and ability to trust. They must be resilient, adaptable, curious, creative, and resourceful.

Other requirements: "You have a 'Can do!' attitude."; "You have a good sense of play and spirit of playfulness[!]"

Not exactly NASA, is it? The private company has previously promised that the mission will be the greatest "media spectacle" our solar system has ever seen. "The whole world will be watching. Big Brother will pale in comparison," said team member Dr. Gerard T. Hooft, a Nobel Prize winner in theoretical physics, without a grain of irony.

Mars One goes on to say they're not seeking specific skill sets as "all skills required on Mars will be learned while in training." (Like how to fight off a swarm of Martian insects with a debonair flourish.)

If you're interested in joining an experimental space community with a group of high-spirited, sensitive folks who, y'know, aren't doctors or geologists or anything fancy, apply here.


A bull elk browses in Rocky Mountain National Park     Photo: Ingrid Taylar

Boulder Furious Over Elk 'Murder'

Group holds candlelight vigil

Boulder residents outraged by the New Year's Day killing of a neighborhood elk by a police officer voiced their concerns at a meeting with the city's chief of police on Monday. Mark Beckner told attendees that his department was conducting an internal investigation, and assured them that the officer implicated, who is on paid leave, would be fired if necessary. "If we didn't think there were issues, we would not be investigating," he said. "It appears policies and procedure weren't followed. Now we need to either prove or disprove that."

According to the Daily Camera, that did not satisfy some Boulder residents.

But some members of the crowd did not take the same approach, with one comparing the paid leave to putting "murderers on vacation." Beckner also said he has received emails from people going as far as asking that the officers be executed.

The controversy start on January 1, when Boulder police officer Sam Carter shot the elk in Boulder's Mapleton Hill neighborhood. Afterward, he called off-duty police officer and part-time taxidermist Brent Curnow, who, with the assistance of a sheriff's deputy, loaded the elk into a pickup truck and brought it home to process it. While the officers claimed the elk was wounded, a Boulder police spokesperson said the next day that the pair had not reported the incident to the department as required.

Residents of Mapleton Hill have widely criticized the killing of the friendly elk, whom they called "our guardian." (Though at least one person says the elk had behaved aggressively toward people in the past.) In a uniquely Boulder response, a local group organized a vigil last Thursday—complete with candles and pictures of the elk—to "celebrate the life" of the animal.

Via Daily Camera


Ancient gas pumps stand at bay.     Photo: Donald Lee Pardue/Flickr

Australian Heatwave Halts Gas Pumping

The fuel is vaporizing

The Australian heatwave that has forced many from their homes and left 100 people missing has now made it impossible to pump gas in one town in the southern Outback. Oodnadatta—yes, that is the town's real name—has hit a scorching 119 degrees Fahrenheit, only a four degrees off the national record, which the town also holds.

"The ground, the building, everything is so hot, you walk outside and you feel it's going to burn you," Pink Roadhouse owner Lynnie Plate said. Mrs. Plate said the Roadhouse couldn't serve unleaded fuel after midday because it was vapourising and wouldn't pump in the extreme heat.

Earlier this week, the country’s weather bureau added new colors to its heat index due to soaring temperatures across the center of the continent. God speed to all of the kangaroos out there trying to keep cool.

Via News.com.au