Saturday, October 27, 2012

Drugs in Pro Cycling

The Lance Armstrong affair has not only destroyed the reputation of America's most successful cyclist, it's moved the sport itself even further into the netherworld of applied pharmaceuticals of Festina and Operation Puerto.  It's obvious now that literally the entire competitive structure of elite cycling has been compromised by drug use.  The list of winners that have climbed the podiums of the most prestigious races is dominated by riders implicated in doping.  While Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles have been erased from the record books, in fact there is probably no significant race that hasn't been won with the assistance of drugs.

Oddly, most of the scrutiny, and punishment, has been dished out to the winners.  Does this mean that those that finished in the grupetto are innocent?  Of course not.  Some may not have been good enough to win even with chemical modifications.  But what of those that refused to break the rules, that rode "clean"?  Don't they deserve something like sympathy for making a futile but legitimate attempt to compete with pumped riders?

No, they don't.  Doping has been an accepted, if not acknowledged, part of elite cycling for years and the riders, all of them, have been more aware of it than any serious or casual fan.  A cyclist competing against the very best, and the most chemically enhanced, riders, without the benefit of doping, was simply adding credibility to the proceedings.  He was competing in an event that he could not hope to win for the prestige or the experience itself or maybe money.  His riding against doped riders was a false signal to the world that the race was indeed a true athletic contest.  An honest person would have declined to compete in an event that he knew to be a travesty.  If there are any "clean" riders, they would be just as guilty as their EPO-pickled opponents.  They should all be banned.
Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso and Danilo De Luca, all dopers, followed by a herd of dopers.

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