Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Where do you draw the line with dope cheats?

Finally, they have thrown Lance Armstrong out of cycling because of his underworld type exploitation of his own sport, cycling.  Using his illness to hide a deep desire to win, he has perhaps changed the way we think of dope cheating in future.  In the past, it was one man or woman’s sole desire to be the best at any cost, before that it was one nations desire to be the best.  Now with Armstrong we realise it was one man’s desire corrupt an entire sport and bend it to his will.  Does this go beyond the boundaries of other drug cheats and so does it set a new precedent? 

If they decide as I have read this morning, to remove all trace of the years between Armstrong’s first win in 99 to his last in 05, do we have to do this with all sports blighted with the evil of enhanced athletes whose sole purpose was cheating to win and being the best.  This is not a simple task, there are many sports, some major ones where doping is used extensively even if it is not headline news.

Alternatively, do we take a different view and start enhanced versions of sports, allowing athletes who want to use performance-enhancing drugs to win, to play-off against each other.  ‘Super Cycling’, ‘Super Boxing’, ‘Super Athletics’; is it a good idea to allow this to happen or is it the natural evolution of competitive sport. 

Would anyone really be interested?  Is the danger of the drug or use of the drug an issue now?  Is the sport more dangerous with the use of drugs?  Is there a significant advantage to using a specific drug in that sport?  Will it change our attitudes towards drugs?  Many more questions come to mind, beyond are they cheating.  

I occasionally watch American Football, and to see the size of those linebackers, those big blokes on the line of scrimmage, whatever they are doing to their bodies in the name of their sport.  I bet it is not all good, even if it is not drug enhanced.  Athletes put their bodies through a massive amount of stress and pressure just to reach the top.  Yes they seem healthy when they are young, but what will most of them be like in the forties and fifties, especially in the heavy hitting contact sports.  For every great legend, you see on TV, still looking healthy and full of life, there probably is many more, in agony unable to walk properly or move without painkillers.

I am not condoning cheating; I think it is vile and disrespectful to one’s self and ones fellow competitors.  Saying that, if all the cheaters cheat, and they are all on a level playing field and no one can cheat further and it makes it even, then we will know definitely, whom the best is.  If control and legislation do not work then we need to find new avenues.  What if they legalised performance-enhancing drugs, what if because of a change, the sport became more popular made more money, more profit.  What if because the sport allowed access to drugs they found, newer, better ways to enhance, and it helped humanity.  It might be a long shot but it is a possibility.
Modern day sport is part of the consumer cycle.  Modern sport creates competitors, competitors increase the sports popularity.  The best competitors are watched, and the best win to become so popular that they enhance the sport.  Allowing other commercial companies to invest in that sport so they can make more profit.  The products are then sold on mass to the competitors and also the spectators of that sport.  A perfect cycle.

Or do we continue with the present format, trying to find drug cheats and never truly knowing who is the best because being the best may just mean you are the best at cheating.  Until they sort it out in sport, we will know this period of history as the uncertain period before we realised the way to go forward.  The time when we cannot be certain, how good someone truly is, because of people like Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, the East Germans, and the many others from many sports who know they cheated to win.  The ones who cheated and got away with it, and worst of all, the ones who cheated, got away with it, and won.

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