Badminton: feathers not flying like they
used to.
The
scourge of bird flu has reached the sport of badminton, with news that the
feathers used to make shuttlecocks are in short supply after millions of their
manufacturers – Chinese geese – have been slaughtered to contain the disease.
The Chinese goose feather is favoured for its superior quality, with as few as
two feathers per bird making the grade. Due to the shortage, shuttlecock
producers are using lower quality feathers, a move that has spread concern
through the sport. “Everybody complains now, ‘What’s wrong
with the shuttle?’” one US player
commented.
“It was goose feather, but now it feels almost like duck.” As the Seattle Times reports,
players began suspecting something amiss after a noticing “a rash of
broken birdies, out-of-control kill shots and careening flicks,” leading to fears
“that shuttlecock makers have begun substituting lower-quality feathers in
their premium tubes.” The scarcity of high-grade feathers has
also led to a price shock, with competition quality shuttlecocks now 25% more expensive than just a few months ago.

Landis: another day, another excuse. With only one day left before
the result of the test on Floyd Landis’s B sample is made public, his entourage
has issued its latest excuse – dehydration. After the cyclist’s lawyer Jose
Maria Buxeda suggested that a combination of maximum effort and dehydration
lead to the illegal levels of testosterone in his client’s sample, experts
quickly pointed out that Buxeda should stick to the law and leave the
scientific pronouncements to the people in white coats. “If dehydration was the
case, then marathon runners would be testing positive all the time. Tennis
players would be testing positive all the time. Dehydration is a medical
condition that requires hospitalisation. It has been invoked in the past, but
not one case – to my knowledge – has been successful in this argument,” said
Professor Christiane Ayotte,
a top doping official. To complicate matters, Lance Armstrong has suggested the
lab testing Landis’s sample might not be trustworthy, pointing out that it is
the same lab that was at the centre of the L’Equipe affair in 1999.
Crikey was unable to confirm whether Landis’s team were hurriedly constructing a final,
last minute excuse targeting the efficacy of the testing lab.

German swimmers smash another world
record.
Is
swimming a confidence sport? Is success linked only to training and ability?
What has given Germany’s lady swimmers such a
distinct advantage over their rivals at this week’s European Swimming
Championships?This time it’s the
4×200 metre relay team that has written itself into the record books. The team
of Petra Dallmann, Daniela Samulski, Britta Steffen and Annika Liebs recorded a
time of 7:50.82, surpassing the record (7:53.42) set by the Australian team at
the Athens Olympics. The German swim federation yesterday invited the World
Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the German national doping agency to blood test
all swimmers taking part in a series of altitude training camps planned for the
national team “in an effort to prove the legitimacy
of swims such as Britta Steffen’s 53.30sec world record over 100m freestyle,”
reports SwimNews.com.
When the possibility of doping was raised, Steffen’s coach offered this
“furious” reply. “I swear that she is clean. She has changed all aspects of her
training. She has lost 10kg in weight over the last year. She has taken on a
new attitude in life and is a more relaxed person. She’s worked very hard.” But
given the recent controversies surrounding Floyd Landis and US sprinter Justin
Gatlin, you can’t blame people for asking.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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