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.

Still a hero to some, apparently. Photo: Getty

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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    • Oracle says:

      02:43pm | 22/01/13

      You don’t have the option of “surrender”, you’ve lost.

      There are multiple and blossoming classes of medical research chemicals that athletes are already looking into. All of these substances will need new tests to be developed that are; non-invasive, specific and sensitive - this takes a lot of time. Drug testing will always be a generation and a half behind. Steroids are old news , peptides and growth factors and gene delivery are the new wave.

    • Keithmac says:

      08:26am | 23/01/13

      ‘Oracle’......and your point is?

    • AdamC says:

      02:48pm | 22/01/13

      This idea that sports could somehow permit doping is a nonsense.

      As well as being very morally questionable (many athletes would probably harm or even kill themselves by doping) it is practically impossible. What family-friendly or prestige brands would want to sponsor sporting competitions that essentially assert that it is OK, even desirable, to cheat and take drugs?

    • Tropical says:

      03:00pm | 22/01/13

      You are correct there is indeed a lot of stupid going around.
      A lot of stupid articles about Armstrong who a vast majority have data dumped to irelevance.

    • Stan says:

      05:44pm | 22/01/13

      You are correct we are all irrelevant specially when shit really happens.

    • Sam de Brito says:

      03:07pm | 22/01/13

      Read this article ( if you’re interested in the science of how Armstrong cheated. Only 8 per cent of riders tested positive (so 1st, 2nd or 3rd place-getters in the stages) of the ‘99 tour to the presence of synthetic EPO in their samples. The “everyone was doing it” argument doesn’t stand up to examination. Probably less than one in ten were doing it in that particular Tour.

    • Sam de Brito says:

      03:40pm | 22/01/13

      I meant to say only 8 per cent of riders tested - which would be disproportionately represented by 1st, 2nd or 3rd place-getters in the stages as they were all mandatory tested - tested positive to the presence of synthetic EPO in their samples.

    • Eskimo says:

      03:13pm | 22/01/13

      I think blood doping should be allowed. After all, you are removing your own blood and having transfused back in at a later date.

    • martinX says:

      04:14pm | 22/01/13

      Blood doping is cheating. Let them train in high altitude.

    • Rick says:

      03:35pm | 22/01/13

      What fascinates me is;
      a liar and a cheat a la Lance Armstrong will still be King or Queen and will still remain well protected under our phony system of democracy and we will remain powerless to stop them.

      That’s not rubbish.

      Welcome into the kingdoom of lies and cheat promises.

    • Sicken by Drug cheats says:

      03:57pm | 22/01/13

      Drugs in sport including Blood transfusing confuses me. I want to see the best a human can do, I don’t want to see the best a drug can do. We all saw and were appalled by the Chinese Women’s Swim team, we see the damage done to young girls in gymnastics who were given ‘Vitamins’ their adult lives ruined all for the sake of winning.
      You can’t justify ‘winning by any means’ that’s hypocritical; it’s only for the cheaters ego, that’s it.  It’s so they can have another trophy, another medal, it’s not for their abilities, their fitness or the competition it’s for their bank accounts.  Lance Armstrong is the worst sort of cheat, he did it over and over again, he removed the chance of competition, he drank his champagne on the road into Paris, he smiled and said to the world he did this himself without drugs, he sued people and denigrated them in public when they spoke out against him, and he did it over and over again.
      The real winner of the Tour was further back in the peloton he had ridden hard, months of training his sacrifice and pain, he had not failed but he would never best Lance Armstrong the drug cheat who stole his victory and that revolts me.

    • sunny says:

      04:18pm | 22/01/13

      The solution is fairly simple: a Tour de France biosphere. All competitors enter the biosphere 6 months prior to competition, screened of personal possessions including drugs, and have no contact with the outside world until the race is over. At the completion of each stage - as they cross the finish line - they go straight back into the biosphere ..which would have to be mobile then I guess.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      05:13pm | 22/01/13

      Hmmm… Biosphere… What can I do with this one???

    • Sam Clench

      Sam Clench says:

      05:28pm | 22/01/13

      I like the way you’re thinking sunny. A few minor logistical kinks to work out, like what to do with the rest of the cycling season, but it’s a sound idea.

    • Jon Smith says:

      05:43pm | 22/01/13

      They keep riders isolated in the keirin events in Japan to stop them betting on their own races so why not do the same for drugs.

    • sunny says:

      05:46pm | 22/01/13

      hmm yeah now that I think about it the biosphere would have to have a velodrome so they could train, and somehow hover to the various stage finish points on le Tour (a giant hover craft biosphere?)
      “rest of the cycling season” - What ! There is a rest of the cycling season? Who even knows that cycling is a sport apart from Tour de France on SBS?

    • maria says:

      04:35pm | 22/01/13

      Lance Armstrong ‘confession’ confirms he is a liar, bully and cheat

      When can we expect the same from the Queen Gillard ?

      By the way lies, frauds cheat and bully are the main prerequisites and supreme in a mafiacracy… this what we are???

    • Jesus Kriced says:

      05:03pm | 22/01/13

      WTF has Gillard got to do with Armstrong. You must be obsessed.

    • Pisces says:

      05:23pm | 22/01/13

      Careful there Maria, you can be sued for insulting our ‘dear leader’.

      Not only has our self-appointed dictator…oops! PM changed dictionary meanings to suit herself, she’s also changed the hate laws - you got it, to suit herself!

    • Gerard says:

      06:48pm | 22/01/13

      Completely agree. If the Tour de France had a system of direct democracy a la Switzerland, none of this would have happened.

    • Andy says:

      05:01pm | 22/01/13

      As a former Lance Armstrong supporter who just yesterday threw out an inspirational signed picture I have had up for years I agree with this article completely.

      However it is worth pointing out this doping vs non doping split already exists although perhaps not overtly marketed as such. Natural body building ( vs professional body building i.e. Ronnie Coleman and the like…And you are right, it is the doped up professional bodybuilders who get the bulk of the attention and sponsorship…

    • Sam Clench

      Sam Clench says:

      05:32pm | 22/01/13

      Yep you’re right about bodybuilding Andy. I’m not aware of any other sports with that sort of divide. I can think of a few that I’d swear are pretty light on “natural” athletes though…

    • Josh says:

      05:37pm | 22/01/13

      You guys that are professing your disgust with Lance, are the same people who never played sport, and spent your lunch breaks in the library as a kid.

      You have never dedicated your lives to a sport, and pushed yourself through immense pain. We as countries and citizens love when all our sporing heroes come back with medals, put them up on a massive platform and treat them like gods. They don’t ask for constant media attention and the criticism that comes from a defeat. But we always push them to win and to be the best. How you cannot understand why someone who has been pushed to be the best their entire life, did something that a large amount of atheletes do, is stupid.

      Did you know that Tiger Woods has 20/10 vision. That means he has better then perfect vision. All because of lasic surgery. Athletes come out of games with injuries and are given injections to numb the pain. Is that natural?

      Yet when an athlete wants to sleep in a gravity chamber, or pump his own blood back into his own body, or takes something that makes him push a little bit harder, remember, you are the one who tunes in, buys the sports clothes and cheers for them to win. At any cost.

    • Sam Clench

      Sam Clench says:

      06:39pm | 22/01/13

      My parents probably would have killed to get me off the pitch and into the library during lunchtimes.

      Lance lied for years, and reacted with outrage whenever his lies were questioned. He built his entire reputation on a load of BS. And he bullied anyone who tried to get the truth out - ruining a few lives in the process. This man feels no empathy, so don’t ask me to feel empathy for him.

    • sport is boring says:

      05:52pm | 22/01/13

      let them all use what ever drugs they like there only athletes they contribute little of real value to the world any way

    • Harquebus says:

      09:15am | 23/01/13

      Yaaawwwwwnnnn. Can we move on now?

    • ianc says:

      10:21am | 23/01/13

      I’ll add a few zeds to that

    • stephen says:

      12:48pm | 23/01/13

      He can’t move on, he’s peeling the prawns ... (‘tries scratching behind his ear’).

      Beyonce lip-sinks her way through her career and no-one gives a fig.

      How come then LA does the same party trick -  fools his fans -  then everyone feels aghast that they were made fools of ?


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