Yesterday the news came out the 7 times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was no longer going to contest allegations of doping brought against him by the USADA. I am not going to comment on this here except to say that it’s possible that Lance will probably be stripped of every title he won after 1998, which includes all the aforementioned Tour De France wins; this makes me very sad.
Seven Times Champ No More?
I am very lucky; for several years I was able to compete at World level and I didn’t have to take anything stronger than a little creatine and some protein powder in order to do so. In Powerlifting we have federations which drug test, along with those that don’t; in other words we have a choice. The sad truth is that this is not the case in other sports.
The truth is that if you want to be an elite cyclist then you need to take EPO, or you need to practice blood doping. I have heard stories of cyclists setting their alarms for 2am so that they can hop on their turbo trainers and pedal so that their blood doesn’t coagulate enough to set off a heart attack. I would imagine that this is the same in most endurance sports.
In strength and power sports the truth is that athletes have to take either synthesised male hormone (steroids), or the real thing in order to compete at the top level.
Are you seeing a pattern here? In order to compete at the highest level you have to be prepared to take something which could well damage your health, and most importantly you have to make sure that you don’t get caught doing so. Or in Lance’s case don’t upset a load of ex-team mates who will testify against you.
Lance is a scape goat, as are the 2 Baseball players banned for 50 games recently, as was Ben Johnson all those years ago.
What’s the answer? Health. Give every athlete a thorough once over, making sure that they’re not harming themselves too badly. Their weight (or BMI), if they’re linemen in American football, or Sumo wrestlers mustn’t get to ridiculous levels. Their blood pressure and blood work must be good for their age; and anything else which independent medical experts deem to be worthwhile.
Yes, athletes will always strive for an advantage. As far as performance enhancing drugs are concerned the cat is well and truly out of the bag; all we can do now is to try to stop them from hurting themselves too much.
Be Mighty (but don’t take drugs)