Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Drugs in cycling. So is it really so bad?

Yes, I reckon it is. We have stars who have tested positive - whether they have admitted it or not, they have been caught out in tests - and we can't ourselves see inside their minds, so we must rely instead on the tests. Basso is just the latest. At least he admits it, or admits considering it, even if he didn't actually do it. Millar did it, admitted to it, copped the suspension and came back. Hamilton? Well he admits nothing but did his time. Landis - probably the highest profile of the lot, given that it was all so public - denies it all. Pantani? Well his was the cruelest blow - to be in sight of the win and have it snatched away. Armstrong? Well if you believe the French papers anything is possible, but there is no real evidence. Anyway, the list is too long and you know it already.

Now I'd like to think they are all innocent and that it's all done in error - but that seems a forlorn hope. Maybe some errors were made - and maybe there is some truth in some of the conspiracy theories. But not all. I know from my own amateur racing career that some riders popped caffeine pills and some visited gymnasiums for reasons other than weightlifting. And some got upset when they got "the wrong banana" at race end. Whatever. It's a tough sport, we all want to get through it without too much pain and without too many injuries, and we all want to win. So we are all tempted to greater or lesser degrees to "aid" our recovery after hard training, to "assist" our return after injury and to do "what it takes" to win. It's human nature to cheat, as humans are cunning and deceptive creatures, and it takes a great deal of willpower to resist temptation, no matter what that temptation may be. When it appears that the culture of this sport - or any sport, and I think some are in this same boat - is biased toward "assistance", we have a problem.

I think we still have a problem. What do you reckon?

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