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Doping and tarnished sports

The first week of July is fun in that I get to watch two great international sports competitions: Tour de France and World Cup. By far, the Tour is much more interesting to me because I appreciate a sport that, to me, has a greater sense of nobility: soccer players whine and dive, a cyclist waits if an opponent crashes. When I explain this to random, the topic of Operation Puerto and doping often gets brought up, which brings me to the point of this little post: what, you don't think your sport dopes?

Watch old footage of your favorite sport. What often strikes me with baseball, soccer, football, etc.. is how small everyone looks. While there are modern training techniques and perhaps greater dedication by pro athletes, do you honestly believe that the sub on the bench looks more fit than Pele because he eats better vitamins? I remember a sports article for several years ago -- possibly SI or ESPN -- profiling linebacker Bill Romanowski's modern training techniques with specifically tailored supplements from a sports lab. As it later turns out, that lab: Balco; those supplements: steroids and HGH, among others.

Soccer, baseball, football, cross-country skiing, tennis, track and field, you name it. Dr. Fuetes, at the center of the entire cycling scandal, readily admits helping soccer and tennis players dope, including players on Real Madrid. The entire yearly budget for a pro cycling team is less than the salary of a top Real Madrid star. If a cyclist can afford to dope when the stakes and salary are so much smaller, what do you think happens in the non-niche sports? Do golfers dope?

At least cycling catches the players that dope and suspends them for two years. It has a code where team directors suspend athletes for merely being under suspicion, whereas the Giants happily rake in the ticket sales as evidence after evidence comes rolling in. If a sport hasn't caught anyone doping, then that just makes your sport more dirty because they probably aren't trying hard enough. In my opinion, this makes cycling much cleaner than any other sport. Sadly, that may not be saying much.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on July 5, 2006 5:58 PM.

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