For A Good DQ, Everyone Has To Know The Rules

By

Leonard Zwelling

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-vs-the-horses-derby-debate-goes-presidential-11557143530

If you watched the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, you were treated to a once in a century event. The horse that finished first did not win. Maximum Security, a 4 to 1 shot at post time, was the clear winner on the muddy track at Churchill Downs, but…

In the final turn the fastest horse swung out of his lane a bit and was ruled to have interfered with one of the other horses and thus was declared disqualified and a 65-1 shot, Country House, won the Derby. Country House was not the horse with which the first finisher interfered.

As Jason Gay reports in the Wall Street Journal on May 7, President Trump has declared that Maximum Security was the victim of political correctness (I don’t get that either) and Gay calls this GaitGate. I guess so.

I was incensed when after 22 minutes the obvious winner was declared disqualified, but I have since learned from Gay and others that this was probably the correct call and had this been any other race on any other day at any other track in America, everyone would be agreeing that a foul had been committed and price must be paid. That’s because all of the experts (and I am definitely not one) know that the rule is that a leading horse cannot cut the legs out from under another horse outside his lane. Them’s the rules. It’s not like not calling a foul in the last ten seconds of a major basketball game. There it’s “let ‘em play.” And that’s only sometimes. The outcome of the race was altered by bad behavior on the part of one horse. It happened to be the horse that finished first, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. That horse had to be DQ’d.

I have just learned that the mayoral race in Istanbul in which an opposition candidate to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party was declared the victor in a close election on March 31 has been declared a DQ by Erdogan’s election officials. That’s not a clean DQ. The other guy won and Erdogan doesn’t want a nascent presidential opponent to grow stronger by running Turkey’s capital city. Thus, a do over on June 23. New elections. We will follow with interest, but I think I know how the do over will turn out. In Turkey Erdogan is the rules and if he doesn’t win, it’s a DQ until he does.

That brings me to MD Anderson. (Doesn’t it always).

How sure are you that those Chinese scientists who were recently dismissed knew that what they were accused of and what they may have actually done, was against the rules? I’m not, for if it was why haven’t they been indicted?

Once, a long time ago, (1996) the FDA forced me as the new Associate VP to install a new computer system to track all of clinical research at MD Anderson. From that day forward, every patient registered on a clinical trial had to be registered in the centralized computer database.

I guess I could have just sent out an email (it would have been a memo back then) to the faculty commanding the use of the new system and blaming the federal government for my need to enforce the new rules. That’s not what I did.

Instead, my office staff and I went to every single department at MD Anderson and explained what we were being forced to do and why. (There had been a severe incident of non-compliance at MD Anderson and we were being punished). Even then, there were many malfunctions and flat out ignoring the rules by the research and clinical faculty. No one got fired. Ever—except eventually me, but that’s another story.

My point is, as Michael Lewis is making in his on-going podcast called Against The Rules, in society today there needs to be refs. The zebras in football, the umps in baseball, the refs in basketball and the FDA in clinical research are all necessary. That’s just the way it is. The rules can be used to educate or they can be used to play gotcha. That is up to the ultimate zebras, the leaders of the institutions involved.

In Louisville on Saturday, the zebras ruled unanimously that a foul had been committed and that the import of the race had no bearing on the enforcement of the rules. I suppose that was a fair ruling. I am less convinced that fairness is in play on Holcombe right now.

I do know that fear runs through the Chinese community of science at MD Anderson and that can never be a good thing. The leadership needs to attend to that. So far, it has not.

Leonard Zwelling