Monday, May 23, 2011

The Big Dopes

Saw this article at today about doping in bike racing in response to the Sixty Minutes item last night featuring Tyler Hamilton, so I figured I'd chime in with a comment:
Would you ban someone for having a technological advantage, like a lighter bike or better repair crew?
Of course not. It's a competitive advantage, one available to anyone willing to pay enough for it.
Similarly, if everyone is doping, but some are doping better than others, then what's the point in pretending your sport is clean?
Because it risks the lives of the athlete? What in sport doesn't?
Because it sets a bad example for children? You mean how like Contador dropped Schleck because the latter's chain slipped?
Because those who don't dope are at a disadvantage? That might be a valid point, but one easily dismissed by the fact that the guys doping are the ones making the money in endorsements and championships, and the folks who don't dope know that going in.
Fairness is all well and good, but if the problem is that widespread then by definition it is fair and those who don't dope are the ones who are forcing themselves into an unfair position.
Also, this fairness you mention intrigues me a little, because I suspect it extends beyond the "Save Jens Voigt" crowd, to where you and I get on a bike and pedal our hearts out and if we're really lucky and the downhill is steep enough, we can embrace the speeds riders in the peloton can achieve for hours on end.
This fairness, in other words, is about how we stack up against the elite. That's asking an awful lot of fairness.
I don't like it anymore than you do, thinking that there but for the grace of HGH go I.
I'd like to believe Armstrong was just that much better a rider, but the evidence is piling up against not only him but the entire race industry.