I sat through my first Tim Finchem press conference today. I know, I know...the perks of a media credential. The man has a svengali-like ability to lull you into a hypnotic trance where you ponder what's lurking on the lunch menu.
He did his usual bit about cheating countering the "culture" of the game, and therefore the Tour has no reason anyone will test positive, which is your basic credibility killer.
There were a few highlights, one being the new acronym that you are sure to get sick of reading about: T.U.E. (therapeutic use exemption).
Oddly, this answer to Steve Elling about the Westchester situation did not cause the room to break out in laughter.
On the second one, let me answer the second one first, Westchester. It's been widely reported -- we are in discussions with Westchester. We have a multi-year contract with Westchester. Our discussions focus on the possibility to alter the rotation arrangement that we entered into for this six years in some fashion.
As you know, we had agreed to play -- worked out an agreement where we'd play at least three times in six years. We would like to perhaps accelerate the rotation somewhat.
Is that Finchemspeak for we want to get out of Westchester immediately?
But we are in discussion with Westchester on a wide range of options within that, and I don't want to get into speculating on any one course, but we are deep into discussions. We hope to wrap this up quickly, and hopefully we'll have more to say within the next week or so. But obviously if it impacts '08 we really need to know right away. That's where we are. Not much more to say about that.There was a nice non-answer on groove issue that wasn't worth copying and pasting.
Then, near the end, Doug Ferguson pressed Finchem on two key points related to drug testing that seem to expose potential flaws in the system:
If, however, we concluded that it's being taken because it is being abused, either because of a lack of judgment, dependency or addiction, we would treat it in that context, which would include a wide range of potential actions, including some disciplinary action, some therapeutic action, and some continuing testing action. So it could conceivably be that a player is disciplined at some level and then if he's allowed to continue to play he's tested on a regular basis to help him deal with those issues.
We view that as somewhat different than a player who has intentionally taken a substance to gain competitive advantage. That would be dealt with in a different arena.
Q. Who decides that, you?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: That would be me, and subject to an appeal process.
Seems like loads of potential for serious questions, particularly in light of this...
Q. And lastly, just to clarify, if there is a positive test, what will you be releasing to the media? I'm a little confused on that. After it runs the appeals process.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: At this moment it's our intention when the process is completed, we would release to the media the fact that there was a violation and what the sanction for the violation is.
Q. But not the drug?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Not the drug.
Over/under anyone on how long that policy is considered disfunctional?