Friday, November 03, 2006

Drugs in cycling - Landis et al

It just seems to go on an on, this business of drugs in sport. As I've said before, I feel for Floyd Landis as he had reached his goal only to have it snatched away moments later. I felt similar - but angrier - about Marco Pantani when he was cruelly robbed of the Giro on the last stage (let alone how I felt when 'the accusers' finally did him in; whatever the truth of the matter, he clearly felt persecuted). And I feel sympathy for all who stand accused of drug cheating. Yet my sympathy is balanced by a recognition that the law is the law and that we must play by all of the rules, not just some of them.

So when I exceed the speed limit in my car - something I rarely do by the way as it raises the accident risk exponentially (and if you think otherwise you are not thinking it through) - I recognise that I am breaking a law and may be punished for my actions. Rule of law aside, it's also unfair to the community; to risk those around me by my self-motivated actions alone. And it's unfair to simply pass the drivers who are not speeding as it is the vehicular equivalent of 'queue-jumping'. Why would you think it's OK to queue-jump in a car? No matter how you look at it, it's cheating the system and putting everyone else down. You could take an economist's view and say that you are prepared to wear the marginal economic cost of the speeding ticket in order to achieve some competitive advantage, but only a small percentage of speeders are caught, so the marginal cost is inequitably applied. Which is to say it's an imperfect market and - alas - simply cheating again.

Similarly if we do take our chances and take performance enhancing drugs we are not just breaking the law but putting others in jeopardy (by modelling poor behaviour to young riders) and taking an unfair advantage over those who respect 'the law'. It becomes an ethical question. Do I behave ethically and fairly to all, or do I act alone to take an advantage over others?

None of which helps us decide any of the outstanding cases. If we are to have a controlled situation then we need to control every participant equally and fairly. It means taking blood and perhaps tissue samples from everyone and keeping them throughout our careers - amateur as well as pro. It may mean taking a DNA sample as a signature by which we can verify exactly whose sample we are testing. Indeed, given the possibilities of genetic performance manipulation a DNA sample will become essential in the near future. If we don't do that then we risk the current farce continuing - or escalating - despite what others may argue. Not just in cycling but in every sport. The alternative? Let the whole issue drop and change the rules to embrace the cheats.

More of my drug-related ramblings here. (Drug-related but not drug-induced, though.)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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TBV http://trustbut.blogspot.com

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