Friday, July 28, 2006

Drugs in Sport

In an effort to post the odd serious bit of journalism...

I'm saddened by the recent news of Floyd Landis (winner of the Tour de France) testing positive for Testosterone. I don't actually like the guy but I do feel sorry for the cyclists like him.

The (major) Tour organisers design a race that requires god-like aerobic/anaerobic ability in order to bring in the audience. Can you imagine doing a marathon every day for 3 weeks? Or doing 5 Ironman events on the trot?

The Sponsors then pay millions to 'acquire' a team to win this event. They say to the team, you must win, but you must be squeaky clean. The Team Manager says "you can't have both". The Sponsor says "deal with it".

The Team Manager then says to his cyclists "do whatever it takes to win this race, take whatever drugs and doping measures you need. If you don't, we won't renew your contract; if you get caught we will deny all knowledge and sack you. If you win and get away with it, you'll have put such a strain on your heart that you will probably die in your 50s".

What choice does the cyclist have? He's been cycling since he was 8. He has no education and no other skills - he does as he's told. This is systematic doping, not hiding in the toilet and popping a few pills, this is lying on a bed attached to a drip while the Team Doctor sticks needles in you and the Manager looks on.

What I find despicable is that the 'cheating' Cyclist is then vilefied and banished while the Organisers, Sponsors and Teams take zero responsibility and just hire more Guinea Pigs as replacement pin-cushions.

If you think Cycling is the worst sport of all for drugs, consider this; Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, the man at the centre of the current drug investigation in Spain has asked why only the names of his Cycling clients have been published. He would like to know why the names of the Footballers, Tennis Players and Athletes haven't.

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