Posts Tagged doping

Why not let the dopers dope?

A not uncommon reaction, in the wake of the Armstrong USADA revelations is to say “well, why not make doping legal? Then at least it’d be fair.”. There’s a number of arguments against this, from vague ones about sporting fairness. However, the most compelling argument, to me, is about protecting the health of athletes.

First though, it’s important to note that those who want doping to be legal can go set up their own “Doped-Cycling Federation” and setup races. There’s nothing stopping them, at least in countries like the UK and USA. E.g. Lance Armstrong can still compete in bike races and tri-athlons that don’t sign up to anti-doping, and which don’t care about the USADA ban, and he has in fact done so. Arguing that doping should be legalised therefore is a redundant argument, because it is already the case, and there are competitions for people who think this way. Body-building has doping tolerant (and intolerant) factions apparently; baseball in the US seems to tolerate doping; there are cycling races without doping controls; etc. etc. Dopers are more or less perfectly free to to dope away in those competitions!

However, many other athletes would prefer not to dope. It can have serious health risks. Both high-consequence risks, such as death (blood thickening from too much EPO; bad blood transfusions; aggressive, accelerated cancers from abusing hormones such as EPO, testosterone, etc), as well as more insidious and higher-probability health problems that can arise from continuous abuse of steroids and hormones, such as calcium-depletion in bones leading to premature osteoporosis, suppressed adrenal and immune system function leading to a wide variety of possible problems (e.g. otherwise fit people being completely floored for months by normally harmless viruses that we nearly all carry without much harm; auto-immune disorders; degeneration of connective tissue; etc).

The list goes on and on, it’s literally as long as the side-effects lists in the advice sheets that come with the substances being abused.

Many people, in and around sport, feel that we shouldn’t be forcing our young sports-people into having to dope in order to pursue their dreams and make use of their talent. They feel athletes should have the option to compete clean. That means you need to provide sports with incentives and measures to discourage unhealthy, unnecessary, risky medical intervention – so that those who want to compete clean have a venue where they can have a decent chance. This is why many sports bodies, including ALL that are affiliated with the IOC (directly or indirectly), are signed up to the WADA Code.

Maybe those measures are imperfect. Maybe they need to be improved. Maybe more needs to be done (e.g. there are credible allegations that some major sports like football and tennis are ignoring their own PED doping problems). However, protecting the health of athletes is a compelling reason as to why we should try to provide doping-free sporting venues, to give them a credible way to compete without having to use risky medical procedures and products.

Leave a Comment

Delayed justice for Lance Armstrong

It’s been over 13 years since Lance Armstrong tested positive for corticosteroids in the ’99 TdF. It’s been over 7 years since L’Equipe revealed that a WADA accredited lab in ’04 had found EPO in 6 samples taken from Armstrong in the ’99 tour. It’s been over 6 years since David Walsh and Pierre Ballester published “L.A. Confidentiel” which included eye-witness testimony that Lance doped, and that his back-dated doctor’s note for the ’99 corticosteroid positive had been a sham. It’s been more than 2 years since Floyd Landis came out with detailed allegations of Land Armstrong doping, including a revelation that UCI made a ’01 EPO positive result go away – a result which the head of the lab concerned, Dr Martial Saugy, has since described as a “suspicious” result which he notified the UCI of, and an allegation corroborated by at least Tyler Hamilton. etc., etc., etc..

There’s more than a decades worth of allegations against Armstrong. None of these allegations had been properly investigated before by a body with sanctioning power. The governing body UCI instead had ignored, even dismissed allegations out of hand or, worst of all, attacked and even sued those making allegations, anti-doping crusading journalists and officials. It’s possible that this investigation came about only because Floyd Landis emailed USADA. The testimony about jurisdiction in the Federal lawsuit suggests that that email may have been key in ensuring that the allegations against Lance Armstrong could finally be investigated by a body with authority to sanction Armstrong but not run by officials cosy with him. USADA reportedly have further analytical results against Armstrong showing evidence of blood manipulation, from his ’08-’11 come-back years.

Regardless of the result of an investigation, it is right that allegations be properly investigated. Indeed, it is crucial for the integrity of the sport. USADA ultimately found against Lance Armstrong, but had he been innocent, it would have been just as important to investigate, so as to clear him. It is important to note that, as a result of Armstrong’s attempt to block USADA, we have the word of a Texan judge to believe USADAs’ processes are fair, and sufficiently robust to satisfy the requirements of due process.

Yet, according to some, the greatest injustice in all this is that USADA is taking 2 months to write up the report on this? A report on one of the longest running doping cases in sport? A case where USADA were sued by Armstrong immediately before giving a finding, then receiving nastygrammes from McQuaid effectively backing up Armstrong, in his attempts to block USADA from issuing its finding. Which likely means the report requires an extra level of legal argument added to it, and double and triple-checking, so as to ensure its reasoning is water-tight against UCIs’ jurisdiction claims. Note that should USADA deliver the report mid-October – the current ETA – then it’ll have taken just 1½ months (not quite “months”), as their finding was issued August 24th.

It is not USADA which has delayed this investigation, or delayed the results.

It is the UCI which has delayed justice. The UCI are corrupt.

Further sources: partial index of Lance Armstrong doping allegation stories.

Edits: Re-arrangement of structure of text, to better flow.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: