Legend and Stolen Fame
Congress is currently working on many important issues, including the replacement of Obamacare, tax reform, border security, and job creation. But, there are also opportunities to look at other worthy concerns, such as the challenges of the international anti-doping system.
This week, as the Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I heard from two Olympic athletes and other officials involved in anti-doping efforts. The Federal Government provides over $2 million a year to the World Anti-Doping Agency whose mission is to protect the integrity of the Olympic Games.
As a lifelong swimmer, I was thrilled that one of the guests was the legendary Michael Phelps.
Although I was very familiar with the success of Phelps and his incredible 28 Olympic medals, I was moved by his story and description of how much hard work he put into achieving his goals. He is passionate about fighting against doping because he knows success comes from hard work, without any shortcuts or freebies.
Doping can disillusion athletes and ruin sports for kids. I was shocked to hear Phelps state that he believes he has never swum in an international swimming event that was clean. Although Phelps was tested 13 times leading up to the Olympics, there were 1900 Olympians in high risk sports that were not even tested once.
Phelps, Adam Nelson (see below), and the other witnesses agreed when cheating is involved, it ruins the best part of sports- setting goals, putting in the work at practice, and celebrating your achievements. Kids learn lifelong lessons and values through sport.
Phelps described himself as a young kid, setting goals and then he would “work like crazy” until he accomplished them and said, “Dreams would just pop into my head whenever I got into the water.”
Phelps explained he didn’t have many friends as a child. He described training every single day for a five year period. His intense focus on swimming made him different and at times classmates made fun of him.
But he noted, “As my hard work and sacrifice began to pay off, my confidence grew and I began to feel that if I could dream it, and gave everything I had, anything was possible. The strength of that belief drove me to set goals that others might have thought unrealistic.”
Accomplishments begin with a dream, and to achieve your goals there are no substitutes for hard work.
Phelps’s determination is an inspiration.
Imagine winning a Gold medal. That moment when the Stars and Stripes would rise up behind you, with our National Anthem playing, and in that moment of glory all your years of dedication, sacrifice, and hard work pays off.
For Adam Nelson, that moment was stolen.
In the 2004 Olympics, Nelson competed in the shot put. He led the field until the last putt of the day. The Ukrainian tied Nelson’s best, but the Ukrainian’s second longest was better, so Nelson was awarded the Silver.
Eight years later, the Ukrainian was found to have been using performance enhancing drugs during those Olympics.
Nelson rightfully won the Gold.
Nelson’s dream of a Gold medal moment was stolen by a doper.
Instead of on an Olympic podium, he received his medal at the Atlanta airport food court. Nelson said he had been dreaming of the Olympics since he was a child but, “the childhood dreams of a 9-year old winning an Olympic Gold on behalf of his country never included a side of fries and a free toy.”
I’m impressed he can retell his story with humor, but it’s truly a shame. You see, the shot put doesn’t receive the acclaim of other sports. Nelson lost his sponsor when he wrongfully lost the Gold. He didn’t get invited to events that just Gold medalist were invited to. He didn’t get advertising offers. And in the sports world, eight years later, even if you ultimately got your gold, you are yesterday’s news and the shine of the Gold is not quite as bright.
He continued to compete by working various jobs and went on to win the World Championship in 2005. While this is an impressive feat, it is no substitute for a Gold medal at the Olympic Games.
I hope the IOC works diligently to create and maintain a fair playing field for Olympians.
The American dream is all about the idea that everyone gets a fair shot at success. Like in sports, although we are all born with different strengths and weaknesses, in America with hard work and determination anyone can succeed.
Griffith Requests Review of Truck Trailer Regulations
Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA), along with Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), led a letter to the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt. The letter details concerns about the inclusion of truck trailers in a rule imposing increased emission standards for medium and heavy duty trucks finalized by the Obama Administration last October.
The rule, entitled Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium-and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2 (GHGP2), illegally extends the authority given to the EPA under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act gives EPA the ability to regulate “self-propelled vehicles”, however the EPA included trailers, which do not have an engine, produce emissions, or have the ability to move under their own power.
The engineering technology available that can make trailers more efficient only provides gains when traveling at highway speeds. If a tractor-trailer is mostly used on roads at a lesser speed, the engineering updates would not increase efficiency, but instead would be a pointless cost and burden.
In addition, the engineering updates required to meet the standards add weight to the trailer, meaning the trailers may have to carry less cargo to remain in compliance with Gross Vehicle Weight laws. This would result in more vehicles on the road. More vehicles would in fact result in more emissions, as well as contribute to a higher number of accidents and create roads that are less safe for Americans.
Congressman Griffith said, “The EPA spent the last eight years overreaching their authority and imposing costly regulations onto American workers and companies. In the case of this rule, the Clean Air Act language is clear and creating new requirements for trailers is an abuse of EPA’s power under the law. The EPA cannot independently reinterpret parts of a law that are inconvenient for its own purposes.”
“I hope Administrator Pruitt will review the rule and address the illegal, illogical, and expensive burden it places on the truck trailer and truck trailer-related industries, including those located in Southwest Virginia.”
The Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company Vice President Engineering & Product Development, Jeffrey Bennett, said, “Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company supports Representative Griffith’s efforts to reign in the EPA’s overreaching decision to regulate semi-trailers. Utility Trailer is the country’s leading manufacturer of refrigerated trailers and the nation’s third largest trailer producer, with two factories in Representative Griffith’s 9th Congressional District employing over 1,850 hard-working men and women. Aside from lacking the legal authority to regulate semi-trailers, the EPA’s decision will adversely affect those very businesses that purchase semi-trailers to bring products to consumers throughout the country. The EPA’s one-size-fits-all regulations for a highly diverse industry are not only based on generalizations, and false assumptions, but they also fail to provide any true net benefits that are verifiable in the real world, everyday trailer use of Utility’s customers. Representative Griffith has recognized these faults with the EPA’s unjustified actions, and Utility Trailer applauds Representative Griffith for his efforts.”
The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association said, “The truck trailer manufacturing industry employs tens of thousands of hardworking Americans across the country, many of them in districts like Congressman Griffith’s. All along, we have contended that EPA did not have the legal authority to regulate trailer manufacturing companies in the way it claimed it did. We also showed EPA research demonstrating the rule would unnecessarily worsen air pollution, while leading to an increase in traffic deaths. But EPA was so eager to do a rulemaking that it wouldn’t listen to us. Representative Griffith quickly understood how the rule wouldn’t help the environment while impacting a great number of businesses, many of which are family-run and are often small businesses. He and his staff immediately went to work, fighting against this overreach by the federal government. The TTMA is glad to express its appreciation to the Congressman and his staff.”
The Clean Air Act grants EPA the ability to regulate “air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines” (42 USC 7521(a)). The Clean Air Act states that, “The term ‘motor vehicle’ is defined as any self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons or property on a street or highway.” (42 USC 7550(2))
The letter to Administrator Pruitt can be read here.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.