Now that virtually every cyclist in the Tour de France has been booted for doping, is it time to consider a radical rethinking of the doping issue?
Is it time, perhaps, to come up with a pre-approved list of performance-enhancing agents and procedures, require the riders to accept full responsibility for whatever long-term physical and emotional damage these agents and procedures may produce, and let everyone ride on a relatively even keel without having to ban the leader every third day?
If the cyclists are already doping, why should we worry about their health? If the sport is already so gravely compromised, why should we pretend it hasn’t been?
After all, doping in the Tour is nothing new. According to this MSNBC.com article, it was cycling that introduced the sports world to doping:
[T]he history of modern doping began with the cycling craze of the 1890s and the six-day races that lasted from Monday morning to Saturday night. Extra caffeine, peppermint, cocaine and strychnine were added to the riders’ black coffee. Brandy was added to tea. Cyclists were given nitroglycerine to ease breathing after sprints. This was a dangerous business, since these substances were doled out without medical supervision.
Are there parallels to be made between legalizing narcotics and allowing cyclists to use performance enhancers chosen from an approved list? I wonder what Gary Becker would have to say on the subject.