Below is a post I found on the net, regarding the latest doping “scandal” (Contador’s positive doping control for clembuterol), with my response below it. –Mike–
This is why pro cycling is finished as a sport. No result is ever
final. Look at Lance, he’s probably going to lose TdF victories from a
decade ago. Landis stands on the victory podium, only to be stripped
of the title in the months to come. Now Contador, winner in July,
loser in August. Given this uncertainty, why would anyone invest any
kind of fan devotion to the sport? It’s a joke.
No, it’s (fan devotion to cycling) not a joke. The ‘Tour isn’t like baseball, with well-defined statistics that people use to compare one era to another. Few care about average speeds, or how long it took to climb Ventoux one year vs another (except those focused entirely on doping). There’s no ERA equivalent, no passing completion percentage, no goals blocked, no free throw percentages. Instead we enjoy the spectacle, the strategy, the man-against-himself aspect that rarely comes out in other sports. The ‘Tour stands on its own, with or without doping.
Would it be better if there were no doping controversies? Certainly. But people are naive to believe it doesn’t go on in other sports. My guess is that other sports federations are well aware of what goes on behind closed doors, and enjoy the fact that cycling gets all the attention.
Are “sports” finished, in general, due to doping? I doubt “sports” have ever had a dope-free era, and despite scandals elsewhere, I don’t see their traditional fan base moving off to something else. And cycling in particular? The only reason cycling has more vulnerabilitly to scandal than some other sports is the degree to which it is dependent upon sponsorship (100%). So to some extent, what goes on reflects upon the people paying the bills. But even there, the scandals of cycling almost serve as distractions to the scandals of the business world these days.
Now, what about that kid who grows up idolizing an athlete, shaping his or her life to follow in their footsteps? Shattered dreams, how can you put a price on shattered & crushed dreams???!!! Well yeah, there are so many kids who dream of growing up to be professional cyclists aren’t there? You can try and make a possible exception for Lance, who has cancer-stricken folk who look up to him, but even there I’m not so sure they’re unable to separate what Lance has done for cancer vs his efforts as a cyclist.
“You would have to be an imbecile or a crook to imagine that a professional cyclist who races for 235 days a year can hold the pace without stimulants.”
Jaques Anquetil made that remark eons ago, and it didn’t erode cycling’s popularity one bit. It’s my opinion that the relative ethics of cycling vs the world have narrowed significantly since then. What is sad is that we play this game of pretending otherwise, with cyclists obliged to deny, deny, deny instead of even tacitly coming to terms with the reality of competitive sports.
I would much rather that cycling was clean, but I can settle for rules that limit the extent of doping that can be gotten away with. I recognize the absurdity of rationalizing doping as “legal” as long as you don’t go over the limit. It’s not how I live my life, and it’s not how I want my kids to live theirs. But realistically, it’s how the world works.