Posted by on May 23, 2008 in Bike | No Comments

Doping is in the news again. Big surprise. This time some track athletes have admitted to past PED usage. New doping discoveries are as common as Obama and Clinton tiffs. They are hardly even news anymore. The list of baseball players gets longer and longer. Runners, cyclists, skiers… it just goes on and on. The funny thing is that people try and claim that the NFL is clean. Yeah. Right.

But it got me wondering. Do fans really care if the athletes are doping? I mean, do we really?

Doping gave us the incredible solo break away win from Tyler Hamilton. It gave us Floyd’s man-eating stage win in 2006. PED’s gave us the 1998 and 2001 baseball seasons. It has allowed men a decade past their prime to perform as if they are still 29 years old. And across professional leagues attendance in all sorts of sports is growing. Fans are spending money at the stadium, buying tickets, jersey’s, food, and anything else they can get their hands on.

Doping scandals don’t seem to be hurting sports.

Of course we ‘tsk tsk’ at Barry Bonds and Marion Jones and Floyd Landis. But without those ‘roids we’d all have been denied some of the greatest moments in sports history. Who was not awed by Marion Jones in her Olympic prime? Who did not cheer Landis on as he ripped the field to shreds? Who was not glued to the television in 1998 as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire chased down one of baseball’s most hallowed numbers?

After the fact it is easy to condemn the accused, and the convicted. But in the moment we are inspired, awe struck, moved. Our jaws drop to the floor as we witness history. We are so caught up in the amazing that it never crosses our minds that it might all be fake. Or at least mostly fake.

So are sports really worse off because half of everyone is cheating?

Athletes and Asterisks*


  1. primetime formerly known as slyfox
    May 24, 2008

    its not better off, but the crazy things they do on drugs is worth watching. if they cant eliminate it they should legalize it and have the dope tour and figure out how to have the clean tour.

    or the same with roid ball or base ball.

    nfl hulkamania or normal soccer, who knows how to differentiate that but if they had the dope tour the stages would be long and fast.

    after all those 2 bikers in st george are on crack, look how long they ride.

  2. Karl Vizmeg
    May 24, 2008

    Sure, why don’t we then just make it legal for everyone? That way we can level the playing field and make competitive sports available for everyone and not just the elite who can afford the blackmarket stuff. We can then get a true analysis of the ultimate side affects and see if they are really worth it. Why not give it to our kids so that they get a head start on thier piers? Just think of the memorable moments in history that would yeild.

    Thanks for the blood pressure stimulation. I’m going to take another antihypertensive….

    ER Dog

  3. StupidBike
    May 24, 2008

    mmmmmm Dope

  4. Le Blaireau
    May 25, 2008

    I love the way you stir the cauldron. I don’t think people give a rat’s ass how its done but there is still the point of sportsmanship, this today however boils down to whether you get caught or not.

  5. KanyonKris
    May 25, 2008

    The side effect for me is, I don’t care as much about pro sports. In my mind the experience is tainted. “Is she/he on something?” But I admit I was still impressed by Landis – even if drugs helped him, it still took amazing mental strength to pull that off.

    I’ve also wondered if it’s best to let pro sports be “open” – anything goes. Why make a war out of doping? The war seems to hurt the sport more.

    In the end it doesn’t matter much to me. I don’t follow pro sports much. I’m much more interested in my own personal riding – that’s pure.

  6. Emily
    May 27, 2008

    I still think Landis is an amazing athlete. I doubt he was doping any more than anyone else in the Tour, and probably less than many. Maybe he can make it back to greatness with the endurance MTB circuit this year. Hope we havent seen the last of him.
    I am also sure that a lot of age-groupers are doping in cycling and triathlon, since no one even looks. That may be sour grapes since I am so slow, of course.

  7. Epic Adam
    May 27, 2008

    I will point out that I don’t necessarily believe that sports are better because of cheating. It’s just food for thought.

    Emily-I am not quite so sure. No doubt it is out there, but the cost of doping is outrageous. I don’t think too many people would be wiling to shell out 10-20k just to finish a bit better in the 30-34 Sport category in the local race series. Maybe. But unlikely.

    Karl-Parents have already given their kids steroids. I read a story in SI about a dad who had his 12 yr old on a regimented doping program. His kid was an inline skater and was on just about everything you could think of.

  8. Velosopher
    December 5, 2008

    Sorry for bumping an old post (though maybe it's a good thing for you?) but it is a great one and worth it. What I like is that you a) point out that doping is not nearly as B&W as people would like to think, and b) pose a simple question that has no answer.

    You got it right — the answer to the doping problem is just another question. And another after that.

    You might be interested in

    my take, also troublingly nuanced, which riffs off a great quote from Paul Fournel’s “Need for the Bike.”

    (Hope you don’t mind me linking from your comments section!)

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