Today I read one of the saddest statements I’ve ever seen with respect to the Tour de France:
[ the lawyer being World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound]
Where will it end? And what in the world does this mean (from the same article):
Race director Christian Prudhomme said the case showed that cycling’s drug-testing system doesn’t work.
“It’s an absolute failure of the system,” he said. “It is a system which does not defend the biggest race in the world. This is a system which can’t last.”
What is a failure of the system? Is he really suggesting that we should turn a blind eye toward doping so the show can go on? Doesn’t sound like much of a solution to me but perhaps I have the wrong interpretation and he really meant something else.
Hat’s off to Moreni for not engaging in a lot of lies and whining. If you get caught cheating please take it like an athlete. Accept the results and step aside.
Shame on him for trying to get away with doping, though. What are these guys thinking? Detection seems inevitable. I guess it all goes back to the sad statement of the day. And what a sad statement it is.
Oh how I long for the days when athletes had as much integrity as they had ambition and where the winners really were winners because they had the raw talent and the passion and the drive. Of course that pretty much pre-dates performance enhancing drugs. Those days are long gone and the last thing we need is the public shrugging their shoulders and saying doping is okay or that the result is more important than the process or that sports is just entertainment so so what? You hear that more with baseball and football but bear with me.
Athletes, like it or not , are role models. Children admire athletes and aspire to grow up to be just like them. Do we want our kids growing up to be brave enough to ingest chemicals that can harm them but that make them preternaturally strong so they can win? I’m pretty sure we don’t. And do we want our athletically inclined girls growing up aspiring to be Playboy models? I don’t think so.
Sports isn’t just sports any more. It is a cash flow engine and that cash comes right out of our pockets. I’ve never been a pro nor do I play one on TV but I’ve got to believe that the passion that puts a fire in the belly of an age group athlete is soon altered when you go pro. And for boys in high school looking to become pros in any of the big 3 sports the lures that have nothing to do with a passion for sports are already there putting stars in their eyes – the money, the fancy houses and cars, the babes.
In addition to the money there is the desire to win and the hero worship that goes with that. Athletes are by definition competitive people and if you can out compete the next guy or gal by taking EPO or getting a transfusion or using steroids the temptation to resist that has to come from the proper reward/punishment structure. Getting caught cheating has to hurt not only financially but morally and spiritually as well. That’s the part that is missing.
It is up to us to fix this problem because no one who is getting rich off the status quo is going to willingly shoot their cash cow. We need to voice our opinions. We need to demand tougher penalties for doping. We need to protest events by not buying tickets. We have to stop subscribing to magazines that turn a blind eye toward this behavior and that put hero worship ahead of laudable behavior both on and off the course. We have to demand news coverage that holds athletes who engage in criminal activity accountable for their lack of moral fiber .
If getting caught doping made you a giant loser in the public eye then maybe the risk/reward equation would favor rectitude over attitude, sweat over swagger and honesty over hubris. As it is bad behavior gets you good press and cheating costs you a few bucks and a couple of years. People forget and you move on and you are soon back in the game. As long as you win you are a hero.
Do you suppose that’s what Christian Prudhomme meant when he said we have a failed system? Do you suppose when he said “defend” he meant “protect”? I certainly hope so.