Some dopes would have us surrender to the cheats
Lance Armstrong’s remaining fans have performed some epic intellectual back flips to rationalise the cyclist’s behaviour following his semi-contrite confession last week.
Apparently, because so many other riders were pumped up on drugs, and because it’s bloody difficult to win the Tour de France clean, Lance shouldn’t be treated so harshly for systematically defrauding the public and building himself up as a sporting legend under false pretences.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of stupid going around at the moment. Which brings me to the latest bright idea for dealing with performance enhancing drugs in sport - bare-faced surrender.
A few people, like sports doctor Ben Koh, would have us split sports like cycling into two streams, with one competition for “natural” athletes and another for those who can’t be bothered with small inconveniences like rules.
Sure, we’d all get a kick out of tuning into the Doping Olympics to see some drugged up super humans practically breaking the sound barrier. But the cheap thrills would come at a huge cost.
For a start, after salivating over that freak show, who’s going to watch the athletes who would rather compete at a lower level without drugs? Those competitors would become irrelevant, with their feats largely ignored.
Sponsorship money would flow toward the dopers and their larger viewing audiences. Usain Bolt? Sorry mate, get yourself a real job.
At every juncture, we would be rewarding the reprehensible behaviour of athletes who, in the words of Armstrong, want to “win at all costs”, regardless of who they wrong along the way. Meanwhile, we’d be punishing those who insist upon doing the right thing.
Try explaining that to your children. How could you ever warn them away from drug use in a society which visibly sanctioned the practice of pumping someone’s body full of drugs just to win a sporting event?
It’s not as though the creation of a separate competition for dopers would even stop people from cheating. Surely any athlete who was after an easy victory could just take drugs and enter a “clean” event. So what’s the point?
Everyone in the Tour de France could be as doped up as Armstrong – it wouldn’t matter one jot. We can never endorse the use of performance enhancing substances, in any sport.
The very idea is an insult to those athletes who follow the rules, and it sends an unjustifiable message to the next generation.
Armstrong’s most stubborn supporters claim that he is being made a lonely scapegoat for the crimes of many. That’s rubbish. If someone breaks the rules, you don’t change the rules to suit them. They just pay the price.
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