Point & counterpoint

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There are two sides to the current debate; those that support a legalization of use, and those that call for continued restriction on drug use in professional cycling. That may be, frankly, a gross oversimplification of the issue at hand. These are, really, two ends of a broad spectrum, with the current state of affairs laying somewhere between those two polar opposites.

Point: Floyd Landis calls for legalised doping.

“You got to go about it another way and you’ve got to legalise doping. They [the testers] are so far behind in the testing organisations that there’s no way to change it now. Just accept that it’s here, that it’s not going away and that it’s just going to get more complicated and the fact that it’s not that complicated yet compared to what it will be. Ten years from now it’s going to be four times as hard as it now to test for things.

Landis expressed a pessimistic view of efforts to clean up the sport, saying, “They’re not even remotely close to catching anybody; it’s just a joke. You can use as much EPO as you want and unless you’re an idiot you’re not going to get caught.

“Just start over and let it be. I’m convinced now that there’s no stopping it and you’ve got to stop ruining lives over it. The bad guys will always have guns and the bad guys will always use drugs and that will force the good guys to do the same.

“Since you can’t stop it you have to deal with it in rational kind of way. You can’t stop it and you cant fix it. Monitor it and make sure people don’t hurt themselves, but you have to accept it.”

Counterpoint: Problem not solved.

And where do we draw the line? Do we have limits on certain drugs or do we allow the most ruthlessly ambitious to push back the boundaries until they reach the grave? Having limits would be pointless. The culture proves to us that if you draw a line someone will step over it. So let’s make sport a giant game of Russian roulette. Just keep going until you’ve got blood thicker than porridge. Just keep going until you have developed hormonal problems. Just keep going until you’ve transfused and drained your blood a dozen times over.

The point is, if we make doping legal we force our 12-year-old dreamers to do things to their bodies when they get older that no one in their right mind would endorse if they actually sat down and thought about it. Legalise it and you make it all but compulsory.

If drugs were allowed the limiting factors would be, arguably, the same as they are now; front end costs in terms of dollars, and back end costs in terms of the long-term risk to the athletes health. It may well be “all but compulsory” today to at least occasionally dabble in drugs, if not to sign on to a full-on drug program.

I’m not sure what would change in that regard if the drugs were allowed. For all intents and purposes, the 50% hematocrit limit is little more than a tolerance of whatever procedure takes one no higher than 49.5%, be it an altitude tent, EPO or it’s many variants, or good old blood doping. The same could be said of testosterone levels. Extreme efforts can limit natural production, and an injection can address that deficiency without crossing the line we’ve drawn in the sand expressed as the testosterone / epitestosterone ratio.

I should also mention that I do not believe that cycling stands alone on an island. Most professional sports are dealing with the issue of performance enhancing drug use, the balance are simply ignoring it. We’ve seen how well the latter course of action worked out in American baseball.

The sports of professional cycling must ask itself some difficult questions.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

25 Replies to “Point & counterpoint”

  1. As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Floyd.

    Pandora will not be stuffed back into her box.*


    *That’s a sentence that sounds perverted, but really isn’t.

  2. Perhaps an amnesty period for all pros to come forward and admit usage lest they be stripped of all titles, wins ect. then serve a lifelong ban thereafter if found guilty after said amnesty period? Fuck I have no idea, but I’d like this shit to be over with soon. It’s getting old. Go ride.

  3. It’s not even about doping any more and it never was. It’s about getting caught.

  4. …truth is, we can discuss or argue the shit out a’ this topic plus all the ‘lance/si/novitsky’ allegations but ultimately, it all just goes on & on…

    …i’d love to think it was gonna change or get better but the only constant it seems is how consistent the stories remain…

    …oh, there are ebbs & surges, back n’ forths all interspersed with some damn good racing but fuck me, the long & short of it is that ‘the song remains the same’

    …at least enjoy this version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4FvKM29TqU

  5. it seems that in all sports our performance and entertainment expectations continue to grow. the necessity to go out day after day and justify the salaries and endorsement monies associated with professional sports dictates that these individuals function in super human ways.how does a “human” achieve that and continue to push the envelope?

    anyone for some deer antler velvet?

  6. My solution: (and I’ve probably said it here before)

    Two classes. The one we have now: let ’em dope, team car, massage, radios, chef, whatever. The other, GDR rules.

  7. -dan, we think alike. I’ll let that sink in a minute while you run around shitting blimps and panicking.

    Anyway, I’ve said for years that the original group ride, as laid out by M. DeGrange along goat trails and ridden on fixed gear bikes, needed no improvement as a test of athletic prowess.

  8. Let them dope.. Open up the throttle… All pro sports are doped to the gills and very few of the are dropping dead on the field. It’s their choice as adults.

  9. I’d give a shit about the tour and pro cycling if I didn’t think I was watching a bunch rich kids pumping themselves full of the latest greatest shit to go fast. The same with all the ball sports. Don’t fucking care. Golf’s got juicers for fucks sake. How can I have any heroes when they’re all cheats?

  10. floyd’s got a splinter of a point, but it’s a little utopian. he’s talking with the wrong ‘thos. he is coming from a point of pathos, trying to allow his experience to be considered as credibility. not the case. he’s got too many balls in his shorts to be talking about cycling to the american media anymore.

    killers kill killers, freedom rides bikes.

  11. so then where do we actually draw the line?

    All the big time pro teams have the cash to dope to the max.

    What about the minor league guys I have to compete against on the USCF level? Let them dope too? Clash of the cash?

    I can understand saying let the top end duel with dollars (Euros or whatever) but then when do we say it isn’t ok to dope?

    NRC riders cool or not? If I have the cash, can I buy the stuff and snuff out my regional competition without the cashflow? Sure thing, got the high end gear and the high end drugs, an almost sure ticket to winning Master’s Nats, right? And that is really what it is all about for sure.

    At the moment, and this is under the influence of legal stuff, I say give them the death penalty. You dope, you get caught, you are done. No association whatsoever with the sport. Just have to get a good testing group that can’t be influenced (reaching maybe?) and expect that the testing might always lag. Maybe not THAT far behind though, look at Ricco etc., they were snagged thanks to some big pharma help. That makes me think there is a little hope.

    Or I could just say fuck it all and go listen to the Descendents for a while, which is certainly not a bad option.

  12. “You dope, you get caught, you are done.”

    @pirata— now here we have a logical statement. We all agree that doping is unfair and not okay, but some of us are willing to let it go because enforcement is frankly a joke.

    The fact is, professional cyclists are not protected by their unions the way football and U.S. sports stars are. As we have discussed on this very blog, in the case of Mr. Vick, if you’re good, there’s basically nothing you can do to get thrown out of the NFL.

  13. I’ve said for a long time that they just need to have a Top Fuel class in cycling, where the cyclists can dope to their hearts content. They could announce to the crowds and TV audience what they’re racing on. Imagine that guy that announces boxing matches saying “Today, we have Alberto Contador racing on Clenbuterol and EPO and Lance Armstrong racing on Testosterone and Steroids. This is going to be a great race. Let’s get ready to ruuuummmbbbblllleee!”

  14. First off, the fastest peeps are still the fastest peeps; basic genetic biology trumps all. Yes, I remember throwing 300 mgs of caffein on bd for the first time. Yes, I was a bit faster but not that much faster. I also remember eating an Aderol(sp?) for the first time riding and once again I was faster, but not that much faster. Floyd’s point of ruining lives is interesting. Look at the numbers on life expectancy and TDF rides. These boys are killing themselves a little bit by playing the game at the most extreme level and going for the big $. Plus, how many of us are mowed down by vehicles each yr playing the amateur game of bike racer? Life is inherently risky, so let the wild ones dabble. The rest of us “never made it” peeps can then whine about the drugs others took and that is why we never made it right? Those darn cheaters! Drug wars seem to really suck no matter what the context. This is a lot like the recreational drug world; only idiots get caught and ultimately what’s the big deal, everyone is just doing what they can to “make it” the best experience at the time. Peeps get hurt riding on alcohol too, is this site encouraging dangerous behavior and should it be banned? Drug wars suck!

  15. hey joetheelectrician, with the correct combination of Thia food and whiskey, I shit Hindenburgs. I have no fear.

  16. This isn’t a war on drugs. This is a war on fair sport. As a sidenote, I’ve never lost a friend to an overdose of sobriety.

  17. I have seen Big Johnny mention this aspect before, but I think it is worth returning to the conversation.
    “You dope, you get caught, you are done” sounds very logical but it is not fair. Many athletes, professional and amateur cyclists, for example, are not protected by the kind of due process and determination of guilt/innocence that even our most notorious murders are. For all of its faults and all of the hoops to jump through in our legal system (and there are many), we have a process that is designed around the presumption of innocence and a level playing field for presenting evidence. If we could be assured of the same or similar processes in the CAS/USADA/USA Cycling/etc., I would agree with the “Dope, Caught, Done” recommendation. Until then, it is better to let 10 Tylers, Floyds, and Riccos go free than to sentence one testosterone/hematocrit-gifted (or just plain unlucky) rider.
    But personally, I quit caring about all of it. Not watching le Tour gives me more time to ride and to teach my son to ride.

  18. …so humpty…when you learned there was no santa claus, did you hate your parents & tell them they had perpetuated the greatest fraud of your young life or as time went on did you pass the same ‘santa claus myth’ down to your own kids ???…

    …just wonderin’…

  19. Really, who honestly gives two shits? I mean, know wants to see my 164 lbs. (rather fine) ass out there racing in front of a camera. We all want too see the people we can never be racing; the same goes for Baseball, Football (not Soccer) or any other sport for that matter! We want to see super humans do what we can’t. not Ma an’ Pa Tuckett!!