Out of Your Element

Feb 16 2010

There’s nothing like like watching endurance sports covered by a glorified electric company to remind one how miserably people tend to perform when placed outside their sphere of expertise.

Like a French judge ruling on cybercrime, for example. Judicial officials are already notoriously ignorant on matters of technology, and I sincerely doubt that having a shot at the man who embarrassed your national race is going to do anything for the judiciary’s grasp of the subject, or the fairness of its ruling.

The very allegation at the center of this debate—that Landis presented documents in his defense that must have been “hacked” from the LNDD’s computer system—is an eyebrow-raiser as well. The lab is at least as well known for leaking documents as it is for busting dopers. After half-a-decade of A-sample positives mysteriously turning up in the European press, a wayward document pops-up in the Landis defense and suddenly cyber-security is an issue? I’m highly skeptical.

That said, it’s also deeply believable that a supposed tech novice like Arnie Baker would be foolish enough to attempt a cyber attack from his own IP address, as is alleged. Even seasoned troublemakers like the Anons that hacked Sarah Palin’s email forgot to obscure the URLs of the proxy servers they were using. Like most things on the Internet, the basic info and tools for rudimentary attacks are easily available, but the knowledge to use them correctly is far, far more elusive.

Still, I suppose it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be as comfortable in unfamiliar circumstances as Wouter “can’t lose” Mol. Beyond the fact that Mol handled his first (somewhat) major win with all the enthusiasm one generally associates with eating a sandwich, it may also be worth noting what wheelset the 6′ 5″ Belgian Dutchman used to accomplish the feat.

If Vacansoleil can keep up the strong early performances, we might see the famously cast-aside hubs competing—and possibly even winning—in progressively more prestigious events as the season rolls on.

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