Saturday, February 17, 2007

Conflicts of interest

Okay--I know D&R hasn't ever been given over to sports, and I'm not planning on making a habit of it. But for whatever it's worth I do follow professional cycling, albeit infelicitously. And reading today's New York Times, I couldn't help but be struck by this story:

Organizers of the Tour of California, who boasted after last year’s race that no riders tested positive for banned substances, have acknowledged that riders were not tested for what has become the sport’s most abused drug--the blood booster known as EPO.

That failure is more surprising because the lead sponsor of the Tour of California is Amgen, the California biotechnology company that produces the genetically engineered version of EPO, which is sold primarily to help cancer and dialysis patients battle anemia.

Now, I can understand why Amgen would want to "educate" people about (and advertise) EPO and it's proper uses, but within the context of a professional cycling event that just seems to me a bad idea. If nothing else it ought to raise serious conflict of interest flags. I mean, who would want to associate your product with a sport or an event in which it's a banned substance? That's about as sensible as permitting baseball stadiums and games to become venues for marketing steroids and publicizing their proper medical uses.

Sounds like someone needs some remedial articulation theory here--stat!

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