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Doping: Tainting Our Sports!

Just last night I was having a conversation with my dear friends Scott and Kami (Scott was mentioned in the latest edition of The Cyclops, but is yet to be sporting a team kit) and talking with them about how Performance Enhancing Drugs have tainted endurance sports. After explaining this to Kami, she came up with a great slogan: "Doping, just don't do it!" I like it!

Sadly, the sports of cycling and xc skiing have been especially tainted by these people who made bad decisions. Think about it, following are just a few folks who have been accused of doping: Alexander Vinokourov, Richard Virenque, Ivan Basso, Johann Mühlegg, Bjarne Riis, the entire Finish XC Ski team in 2002, and countless others.

French cycling superstar Richard Virenque and his entire Festina team were kicked out of the 1998 Tour de France for doping.

However, it's easy to simply point the finger and not understand the how's and why that go into these people making their decisions.

For most of us, there is much room for fitness to improve & race results to get better, neither of which effect our ability to feed our families. However, for a professional athlete at the top of thieir game, the difference between winning and loosing is a small fraction of a percentage point. Consider the Tour de France being won by a few seconds over the course of 2,000 plus miles!

Obviously for these world class athletes, the slightest advantage is the difference between winning and loosing - and often millions of dollars for them, their sponsors, and their team. With this said, they will do anything to get results; better equipment, training harder, scouting out race courses, and yes doping!

I believe that most modern day doping starts out with a doctor finding a drug that isn't yet on the WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) banned substance list, yet still provides an athlete some advantage (such as Amgen's EPO, a drug designed to help Cancer patients, increasing blood's ability to deliver oxygen to muscles). Well, most teams and athletes don't mess around with drugs that are on the banned substance list these days as the rules are enforced very strictly. However, imagine if you could stay one step ahead of WADA or USADA...

I believe this happens frequently at the top of endurance sports. The people with the most money are able to have the best doctors, whom find the latest drugs that aren't on the banned substance list. Therefore when their athlete takes the drug which increases their performance, and they fly under the radar of WADA because they don't know about it yet.

Heck, let's even take a step back to the late eighties with Paul Kimmage's book titles Rough Ride. In this classic book, he clearly outlines how just in order to complete Europe's pro races, many riders were forced into doping, as everyone else was. It's sad to come to the realization that back then, most of the pro cycling peloton was doping in some way.

Sadly, this is the ugly side of cycling and of XC Skiing (and many other sports), yet it's reality.

Johann Mühlegg was clearly in a class of his own at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, until he later tested postiive for doping and had numerous medals stripped from him.

1 comment:

  1. Tried to post brilliant comment...tried to use my Google profile (WHY do I need a profile???) apparently my google email does not count as a Google profile...once unable to login to my non-existant profile, there was no way back to call it anonymous, tried to use back really cool errors...

    Lost brillant essay on doping.

    God this ex-computer geek is starting to hate technology. Or at least the incompetant incarnations of it like Facebook...and apparently this blog thing...

    Let's see if Anon works!
    -Mark Jonjak (and that signature is all the profile I need! JEEZ!!!)