Dopes in Sport

According to this report the quantity of people taking drugs in sport is approximately everyone. They’ve taken data about detection rates and multiplied it by the quantity of people getting detected and have proven that if you’re not taking drugs in sport then you’re the dope.

If they’re talking about cycling then they are of course correct. Even though they stripped Lance Armstrong of his neat yellow jackets they didn’t and couldn’t give them to anyone else. If you cycled in the 90s and early naughties then you’ve either been caught or are about to.

The way they catch these guys is by good old fashioned witch hunt. First you catch yourself a witch. Then you squeeze the witch until the witch dobs in another witch, or witches. Extra points  for dobbing in an entire coven of drug cheats. Many witches are offered lighter sentences if they can dob in another witch. Some of the worst witches are given amnesty or reduced burning because they could finger other witches.

What worries me most about this process is how it belittles our sport. If you turn the entire professional into a bunch of choir boys singing for the freedom (yes, they’re not witches any more, they’re choir boys — they’re my metaphors and I’ll mix them however muych I like) then why should I care about any one of them? The investigation does, in effect, bring the sport into disrepute.

Many people who mostly didn’t cycle or ever watch the sport bemoaned the cheating and declared they’d lost all interest in cycling. Woopdy-do I responded. I witnessed some of the most incredible cycling the world will ever see, moments of excitement that will never be rivaled. I saw people fly up hills like they had wings. I saw people toy with the mere mortals around them. I saw a king rise and conquer the Tour in a way no-one will ever equal.  And now you want me to feel remorse because drugs were involved?

My response to that is don’t tell me about the drugs, don’t drag down my heroes, unless you can show me a B sample laden with dope. (Floyd Landis that’s you buddy.) I don’t think there is anything worth knowing, any cheating so bad, that you have to turn everyone into dobbers to reveal it. Especially since, all they proved in the end was everyone was on the gear.

I can pretend to be flippant about drugs in sport but the truth is we’re diminished when the sportsman we believe in are dragged down. It’s an excuse for petty sanctimonious ass-wipes to get all high and mighty about the ethics, as though they never cheated on anything themselves. As though the calcified old sports bureaucrat hasn’t taken Vigra the night before in the quest for his performance.

(Champion.)

When I see some fat fool come out and face the media decrying Stuart O’Grady as a drug cheat and telling me his reputation is in tatters it makes me angry. Because Stuart climbed the hills and faced the headwinds and the crashes and the days when his legs felt like lead and he kept going. If Stuart took drugs once or twice why should we even care? In a peleton shared with Jan Ulrich, Floyd Laders, Levi Leipheimer, Bjarnes Riis, Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani, Dave Miller, Alberto Contador and…well…are you kidding me? Just about everyone he ever rode against has been proven to have taken drugs.

What sets Stuey apart from some others is his attitude. He told investigators that he had obtained EPO himself directly from the local EPO salesman and no-one else in his team knew about it or was involved. As if! But it was the right thing to do. Man up and take responsibility for having the terrible luck to get caught.

Australian cycling has already lost a few senior figures to the drugs investigations. My advice is to stop turning over stones in case we run out of experienced cyclists to lead and train the next generation.

(Champion.)

Of course, I can’t talk about drugs in sport without mentioning my team Essendon. They’ve been the focus of a season long investigation into possible use of performance enhancing substances. ASADA have been conducting the witch hunt and have released an interim report in time to nobble Essendon for the finals.

Neither ASADA nor the AFL have proper judicial powers.They can’t call witness for instance. The main man behind the supplements program, Stephen Dank, has never given testimony to the investigation. He’s made all his statements through the press. So the best testimony ASADA can rely on from Stephen Dank is the crap he’s said on 3AW.

It would seem that the interim report doesn’t have the goods on anyone. No player has been charged. They’re still holding open that door and suggesting that it’s possible someone might actually be  found to have taken performance enhancing drugs. This is, after all, just the interim report. Not the full report. Didn’t stop the AFL from charging four of the coaching staff with bringing the sport into disrepute. There’s some powers the police would love to have, “Listen son, I’ve got nothing on you but I’m fining you anyway. I fining you for bringing driving into disrepute. Now stand over there while I decide what the punishment will be.”

(Champion.)

You have to wonder,  after months of investigations, after all the fighting and the pressure involved, if they’ve truly found nothing then isn’t it the AFL that has brought the game into disrepute? Aren’t drugs in sport part of what we do? Don’t we have to take a mature approach to these things? Isn’t McCarthyism cruel and belittling? Isn’t it true that the dopes in sport are those that administer it? Who go for years pretending the drugs problem doesn’t exist (such as in cycling, but the AFL had a “three-strikes” policy for years) and then try and clean house and get all upset by what they find?

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