In a moment of thoughtful

In a moment of thoughtful and careful analysis that is typical of yours truly, I commented:

In a further attempt to prove that they are a bunch of lawless twits who run the Olympics like a bunch of backdealing used car salesmen, the IOC has stripped several cross country skiiers of their gold medals for allegedly using a drug that IS NOT ON THE BANNED LIST OF SUBSTANCES. Yes, it may have similar properties, but it is not banned.

Blogger Lawrence (Matt) Haws responds, shedding some light on the issue:

The three skiers recently stripped of their medals tested positive for NESP, which, though not specifically named on the list of banned substances, is covered by the phrase “and related substances.”

NESP is a variation of the banned substance EPO, which is used for kidney patients and boosts red blood cell counts (thereby transporting more oxygen throughout the blood stream and increasing one’s endurance). Before the games, NESP was thought to be undetectable by doping tests. But tests are getting better and testers are getting more tricky. These cheaters were caught by surprise tests conducted during non-competition days when its fleeting presence can still be detected. They were allowed to keep medals they won earlier in the SLC games because the IOC can’t prove they took NESP before the day they were tested, though they probably did. Tests conducted after competition won’t disclose NESP’s presence, but its chemical effects still unfairly advantage cheaters over clean athletes.

There’s a legal maxim that says you shouldn’t be allowed to do something indirectly if you can’t do it directly; hence the “and related substance” phraseology. Assuming the skiers aren’t kidney patients, they had no business taking the drug and deserve to lose their medals. But that doesn’t negate the truthfullness of your description of the IOC as a bunch of lawless twits (they are).

This led me to a question. One of the things I always thought applied to the United States was that everything was legal unless explicitly legislated otherwise. IE, that would be why the Bill of Rights reads the way it does- Congress shall make no law…

Am I way off base here?

Mr. Haws responds:

As far as “Congress shall make no law…,” you’re referring to the establishment clause of the 1st Am. As you know, in the U.S. (and practically every other country in the world) legal ‘right and wrong’ is defined by both statutes and case law. To be guilty of violating a criminal law, you must have violated a statute passed by a legislative authority. The legal maxim I mentioned applies more to contracts and tort law, which are also decided by a trier of fact (judge or jury), but based on earlier decisions regarding similar issues and circumstances. You might wonder why NESP isn’t simply placed on the list if the IOC wants the substance to be banned. Well, variations of drugs are developed almost daily. A slight change in chemical composition may constitute a “new drug” yet still produce a similar effect as others. It would be a difficult task to add every new variation of a drug to the list. Therefore, they use the phrase “and related substances.”

Makes sense to me. Interesting how the United States legal system is very much related to the way we communicate (Explicit/implicit, low-context/high context). Sapir-Whorf, anyone?