My view on doping in sport is pretty unforgiving. If you get caught you get a life time ban, there should be legal recourse for sponsors to recover any money in the same way the US Postal are pursuing Armstrong. You should have your ability to make money from a sport that you have no respect for removed from your future. Dopers don’t just win dirty they damage the careers and the earning capacity of clean athletes.
There are some athletes from across sports that I watch today and hope that they never get caught, not because they’re ahead of the testers but because their prowess is derived from genuine dedication, commitment and good old fashioned gumption coupled with modern understanding of nutrition, training methods and minimal returns.
My cynicism is my guilty secret and it’s very contradictory. Cycling has long history and “you can’t win The Tour de France on mineral water” was taken to the extreme by Armstrong and Ferrari and while history shows that the majority of the peloton was dirty Armstrong had it perfected and I think being putting that structure together does garner some twisted admiration from me. Cycling needed Armstrong, it needed the dominance, it needed the spectacle, it needed the possibility to suspend its disbelief so that we could marvel at a man who survived cancer and bossed the peloton.
That clip of Armstrong kicking out of that corner on Ventoux still inspires me to try harder and I know in my middle age with my ruptured disk and dodgy hip and unexplained constant anaemia I’ll never be that.
I kind of understand the doping mentality. Due to my anaemia I’ve had transfusions and that first ride after the blood goes in is amazing, I can big ring up climbs that either would generally have me eating my stem or that would fill me with dread and panic. On these rides I don’t use my Garmin, I don’t upload to Strava and I don’t take any notice of the numbers because I know that they aren’t real.
While the whole world was hung up on EPO big pharma has been busy developing Gas-6 and FG-4592 and part of me would love to give them a whirl not so I can cheat my way in competition but so that I can see how good I could be if I wasn’t so old, so broken and so frustrated by my dwindling physical ability, my head still full of memories of how much better I was prior to that drunk driver slamming into me and I’ve often thought about investing a few thousand in HGH to see if it can help my back injury. I won’t but I can’t explain something in my head just stops me. Perhaps it’s my moral compass.
The thing is if you’re substandard and standing in shadows of giants like Greg Le Mond blowing the competition away with his massive VO2 max and natural ability and you want to stand on the shoulders of riders like Merckx and Hinault the only way you can climb that high is to cheat and in doing so you disrespect the sport, the spectators and your competition, you damage the earnings and career of those around you and for that you should be punished.