Christian Hesch, Five Push Ups for EPO? photo by PhotoRun.net
Christian Hesch has admitted to using EPO, in training, from May 2010 to nearly the present. He has come clean, well, sort of. A member of his club, Nike Team Run LA, found an empty vile and confronted him. The Club then confronted Hesch and insisted he admit his cheating to USADA.
Here are the facts: Hesch used 54 injections of EPO. During that time he ran 74 races, won $40k, and took money from athletes who would have otherwise won without using drugs. He was also, in those 74 races, per the NYT article, not drug tested. So much for drug testing in modest size races.
The piece in the New York Times is rather thorough (we have linked to the NYT piece below). However, here is my beef: the ban by USADA may not stick, if Hesch's civil rights were violated. We are assured that they have not, but I feel that must be addressed.
Here is the skinny: We do not know how the club mate found the empty vial. Was it out in the open, or did the athlete go through Hesch's personal property? Ever heard of search and seizure laws?
A keen observer of this situation sent me a few notes, which I have included in this diatribe. Let's just say that the club mate went through a jacket owned by Christian to find the file, that could violate Hesch's rights. If the club mate went through Hesch's bag, that could constitute illegal search and seizure.
Taking it to the extreme. If the club told him, after having found the vial by illegal means, well intentioned, but still illegal means, and then told him, tell USADA or else, then that could be seen, by most lawyers, as extortion.
Hesch says in the article that he originally thought of fighting the ban, but seeing the Lance Armstrong fiasco, he decided against it. USADA has asked Hesch not to race until they give him a two year ban. Hesch is right, if USADA wants to get you, they will use any and all means necessary to get you--that is the lesson from the Lance Armstrong affair.
That Hesch was not tested, in all the races that Christian has run, by USADA is remarkable in itself. It does not, however, surprise me. Perhaps USADA spent so much money on chasing Lance Armstrong that they could not make too many races around the country to test. Pretty sad, either way. Makes track & field testing, which is the most tested part of sport, and the Marathon Majors, who are using blood testing and did before most, look quite impressive.
Also, if the club mate, suspecting that Christian was a drug cheat, opened a secured bag, he may have violated Hesch's right to privacy. These are all questions that need to be answered.
And finally, in reading the NYT piece, Christian Hesch will say that he did not use EPO in his racing EVER. Perhaps he is naive, or perhaps he thinks NYT readers are. Here is the skinny on drug use in sports: like all other drugs, EPO allows one to recover from training, or injuries, so that you can train more, recover faster, and hence, get the one up on the competition. Hesch calculated which races he would run, makes sense, as he was a 4 minute mile and a 1:05 half marathoner. I would see Christian pace making for various races. Cheating is cheating, in the end.
Christian Hesch, from the first time he put the needle in his arm, was a drug cheat. His use of EPO affected all races in the future and his training was aided. That simple. He may, however, get off on this one, but we will have to see.
I liked Christian Hesch. Being on the circuit, I would only see him three or four times a year. Seemed like a nice guy. Unfortunately, Christian looked for an easy way back, and as his club mates should have told him: there is no easy way back.
In 74 races, Hesch made just over $40k. That is not a fortune, but it was won while using a drug banned from our sport. In English, en francais, in any language, that is cheating. Saying that one used drugs in training and not racing is linguistic masturbation.
Now, any of the good things he did in the sport will be suspect. Not fair, really, but this is the way drug cheating sullies the athlete and the sport.