The advantages of Islay

Through the rest of the year, Palmer is one of just three or four regular riders on the island.

“The only thing that stops us going out is if the wind speed is over 38 mph – that’s dangerous if it’s a crosswind, and I’ve been blown off my bike twice. But the advantage of our weather is that no one will ever steal your bike, because no one is stupid enough to want to ride it in these conditions,” Palmer says.

So, does he get the titles back?

When in 2012 disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong finally confessed to the most “sophisticated, professionalised and successful” doping programme the world had ever seen, he became sport’s ultimate bogeyman.

His admission that for years he took a suite of supposedly performance-enhancing drugs, most prominently erythropoietin (EPO), saw him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and Olympic medals, his career and reputation in tatters.

So it may be with a certain queasiness that he learns today about the results of ground-breaking new research which suggests his prolonged campaign of abuse was pointless – because EPO confers no advantage at all.

If this is true then he did it all himself, thus gets the titles back, no?

Well, no, obviously not. He attempted to cheat which is enough. But logically, if EPO doesn’t work, then those wins are legit as efforts at least, even if not by the rules.

Although, umm, look, let’s think of something we really know doesn’t work. The St. Christopher medal. Kissing it, not uncommon among a certain level of religiosity in Catholics when partaking in a journey, could be said to be an attempt to cheat, asking for divine intervention. That it doesn’t help is obvious, that it’s an attempt to cheat is at least arguable, so, should anyone who does that be disqualified?

Hmm.

There are quite obviously things which don’t work and we allow them, things we think at least might work and we don’t, we call that cheating. Thus when we prove that something doesn’t work does it stop being cheating?

This would actually be rather amusing

A human rights group has called on the International Olympic Committee “not to repeat the mistake of the 1936 Berlin Games” by permitting North Korea to host events as part of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Do Jong-hwan, the South Korean minister of sport, proposed last week that some of the skiing events at present scheduled to take place in the city of Pyeongchang instead be held at North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort.

Because they’d really never manage to cope at all. Tens of thousands of westerners there would be the mother of all disasters for the N Koreans. They simply would not comprehend how people would act.

Umm, well

England wing Dan Norton breaks Rugby Sevens try scoring record in Hong Kong – and he’s only 29

7 s has only been a serious international thing for a bit so someone’s got to have the record – and this is the lifetime try record being talked about. And 29 is not exactly young for either a wing or a 7 s player either.

I mean yes, well done, certainly better than anything I’m likely to do but still. We are rather like having a list of top try scorers in the Calcutta Cup in 1890 or so. Early days that is.

Well, you know, umm, tough?

I’m an Olympic medalist but I’m worried I won’t be able to provide for my unborn twins’.

When Chris Langridge discovered shortly after the Rio Olympics that his wife, Emma, was pregnant with twins, it seemed the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Langridge and Marcus Ellis had won bronze in the men’s doubles, Britain’s first badminton medal in 12 years, and negotiations with potential new sponsors were well underway.

Then UK Sport pulled the rug from beneath their feet, cutting all £5.7m in funding despite Langridge and Ellis’ success. Sponsors have disappeared and, with less than three months until Langridge has two more mouths to feed, he is consumed with worry about how he is going to manage.

“After Rio we found out Emma was pregnant – surprise!” he explains. “Then we found out it was twins – big surprise. Then we found out straight after we had no funding. It has been a really stressful time.

“I have been worrying about how I am going to provide for my family. I’m an Olympic medalist but my finances are bleak as I’m in such an uncertain situation.

“As soon as your sport is told that funding is being removed a lot of sponsors look at you a different way, thinking you’re a risk and maybe they won’t invest. I think ‘I’m one of the best in the world and I can’t get sponsors – this is mad’.

“After I won that medal I thought that finally I could relax a little. Finally I can enjoy this a bit more.

You’re one of the very best in the world at doing something not many people are interested in. Thus it’s a bit difficult to make a living at it.

Well, OK, umm, shrug?

Well, yes, this is a problem

Meanwhile it gets odder still. Murdering Bruno, who as things stand is guilty of ordering a woman’s murder and feeding her to his dogs, wants to play football again. And soon. He’s still only 32, in his prime for a goalkeeper. He’s been training in prison. But wait. There’s a problem with Murdering Bruno returning to football. No, not mass protests, a life ban and questions in parliament. The problem is he’s not quite match fit. Just give it a few weeks, his agent says. He’s back, baby. Murdering Bruno is back.

In fact, several Brazilian clubs have already been in touch trying to secure his signature. And why not? He’s a good goalkeeper. Brazil don’t really have a settled No1 right now. The current regular is Alisson of Roma (whose older brother is also a goalkeeper, called Murial). It’s not inconceivable Bruno could be pushing for a spot in the squad six months from now, maybe even making it to Russia 2018. Who knows we might even see Murdering Bruno at Wembley, ruffling the mascot’s hair, shaking Trevor Brooking’s hand, staring with cold, flat, glazed eyes out of your TV screen while he mouths the national anthem.

Crime and punishment are always difficult, are they not?

But the crime and the punishment are for the legal and court systems to do, not the football authorities.

Would we say that a baker out on appeal for murder could not work as a baker? And why the difference if a footballer?

Marmite, is there nothing it cannot achieve?

History will remember the glory and romance of Lincoln City’s improbable triumph, memories fixing on the drama that has propelled a non-League club into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in more than a century.

Yet the secrets underpinning this remarkable leap to immortality are rather more mundane. Theirs is a success founded upon hard work, and Marmite on toast.

I don’t actually like football

But I do love the FA Cup.

An excruciating few seconds as the technology calculated whether it had crossed the line. Then – finally – a whistle and a raised arm. And then pandemonium. Improbably, impossibly, little Lincoln – small in status but enormous where it counted – had won the day. The last eight of the FA Cup will have its first non-League representatives since 1914.

For those who don’t know what makes it great is that pretty much every football club that is organised enough to be a football club has the right of entry. 750 of them or so is the usual entry in recent years. There’s no seeding (although the big clubs enter later in the competition). No round robins, no group stages, just simple knock out matches all the way up. The first matches are in August, leading to the final the next May.

So, for example, Anstey Nomads FC, down at Level 10 of English football, with a ground capacity of 1,000, and quite possibly not in fact paying their players at all, is in competition with Manchester United here.

OK, so what you might think, but I think that makes it great. Because while the way to bet is that the race is to the swift etc, on the day it’s possible for the good little ‘un to beat the good big ‘un.

That was a bit close, no?

Obviously, post-Brexit we shall have to stop France being in the 6 nations.

For, as we keep being told, all cooperation with J. Foreigner will stop the moment we little Englanders take over.

Hmm, after that, messy, messy, game that we were lucky to win. V. lucky.

Not entirely sure about the new high tackle rules though. Ones that just ride up are worth a penalty, really just not sure about that.

Didn’t know this at all

Former Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen is in a critical condition in hospital, the J9 Foundation has confirmed.

The 45-year-old ex-scrumhalf has been fighting Motor Neurone Disease (MND) since 2011, and has in recent times required an oxygen tank on occasion to help him breathe.

What a shitty thing to happen to a sportsmn.

Sure, OK, it’s shitty for anyone but specifically for someone who was absolutely fighting fit for all those years.

Jeebus, who knew?

Researchers from the London School of Economics found that by playing sport in a team participants not only gain the health benefits of exercise, but can boost long-term happiness.

Rather a Chesterton’s Fence thing there, no?

Given that most human societies have had some form of team sport…..

Misread this

Racing 92 7 Munster 32: Visitors honour Anthony Foley with bonus-point Champions Cup win

Didn’t Foley play for Munster? Going down by 927 points isn’t honouring is it? Umm…..ah!