One of the things I’ve been working on lately is keeping an eye on site stats – trying to understand how they work and all that. Part of it is just trying to understand SEO, part of it is just my own idle curiosity. It’s interesting to see just what takes the interest of people who stop by my humble musings.
A past post of mine recently moved across one of the “search terms” and has been displaying on my dashboard. I wrote it back in August 2010, almost three years ago. At the time, I was commenting on the latest set of allegations regarding Lance Armstrong’s doping.
By now, everyone has heard of the findings over the last year. In exchange for reduced sentences, former members of USPS testified that there was indeed, a culture of doping present during Comeback 1.0 (99-05), and likely in Comeback 2.0 (09-10). Lance has even admitted as much, without much of a sense of remorse. The ASO has vacated his 7 victories, choosing not to re-assign a winner. Johan Bruyneel is no longer involved in professional cycling. Lance has also been banned from competing in any event which USADA has some oversight in.
There’s been numerous commentaries over the actions of the governing bodies – some say it was too much, others not enough. I don’t really have any opinion on it. ASO had a tough time, because let’s face it, in hindsight, it seems that half of the pro peleton was doping. It certainly doesn’t help that Jan Ullrich (runner up several times) as well as Ivan Basso has been implicated in past doping practices (Basso even served a suspension for his association with Operacion Puerto).
I offered up a couple of thoughts as to what might happen should Armstrong’s “guilt” be proved. To some extent, I feel prophetic. 😉
#1 – I alluded to the fact that former USPS riders had turned up positives which seemed to me like there was some sort of program in effect. Sadly, this proved true. A team-wide, systematic practice. Although I still question this as several of the “key” riders providing testimonies are still riding (or were as of last season) and received a bit of “immunity” and a short “off-season” ban in exchange.
#2 – Sponsorship loss and/or license loss. This one’s a mixed bag. RadioShack did eventually drop their sponsorship, but after a merger with the new Leopard Trek squad and ownership transfer. But there’s been further sponsorship losses amongst the other teams. I want to say that this affair was a key to the merger, but who knows, as Bruyneel was still on-board the team before the publication of findings.
I was wrong about the ASO completely stripping the titles. But I think, to some extent, that speaks more to how much the man is/was despised by the French than anything else. While he’s admitted after the fact that he did, there’s still no actual positive test.
Regardless of the proof of a program, keep in mind that most of the drugs that were implicated were used out of competition and in “micro-doses” to assist in training & recovery. The riders still rode 2,000+ miles each July (and more miles logged in training and other races each year) and pushed their bodies to and beyond the limits of the majority of the populace. While there’s certainly the argument around the ethicality/morality of the practice, they still had to go out and ride the race.
Which brings me to the crux of problem with the doping controversies in general. I can certainly understand the uproar if someone corks a bat or hides a little motor in a bike, but in sports where it is still dependent upon you to physically complete the activity, why is doping to assist in training so taboo? (This is more a rhetorical question than anything else).
We might never really have any sort of answer to that question, because frankly, it’s still an ethical & moral dilemma first and foremost. There are hundreds of factors that contribute to the moral base of the person answering the question, and I don’t think we’d ever reach enough of a consensus. Then there’s also the question of which “enhancers” are “fair”.
In the end, I’m not necessarily saying that it’s right, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless. Why is it ok to use “legal” supplements like creatine, protein powders, etc, but not ok for something like EPO? In the end, they both provide some sort of supplementation and assist in the body’s recovery efforts. Maybe it’s part of my ignorance in the actual science and implementation behind what those things do, but on the surface level, you have to admit that it’s at least a fair question.
At this point, what’s done is done. While I’m disappointed in the outcome and the process, that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of cycling both riding and watching. It’s still a beautiful sport.
It also doesn’t take away from my support of the LiveSTRONG charity either. While it’s founder is tainted and removed from the scene, the mission of LiveSTRONG itself is still one that is close to my heart.