Should We Just Let the Tour de France Dopers Dope Away?

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.

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  1. clsand99 says:

    I was just on ESPN.com & they have a fan poll about doping in cycling. The results expose how impractical public opinion is on this issue. 85% of all respondents (these polls usually generate 100K+ voters) believe that cycling can NEVER be dope free. Then two questions later, 82% (just about all the same people) believe that any cycler caught doping should receive a “lifetime ban”! So basically, public opinion is that we should shut down the sport completely!

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  2. clsand99 says:

    I was just on ESPN.com & they have a fan poll about doping in cycling. The results expose how impractical public opinion is on this issue. 85% of all respondents (these polls usually generate 100K+ voters) believe that cycling can NEVER be dope free. Then two questions later, 82% (just about all the same people) believe that any cycler caught doping should receive a “lifetime ban”! So basically, public opinion is that we should shut down the sport completely!

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  3. discordian says:

    The pressure has to come from within the community. Right now it looks like a culture of “he does it, so I better do it too to stay competetive”.

    I say ban all current professional cyclists and coaches for life and start from scratch with the up and comers who can be brought into a non-doping culture.

    Either that or make doping mandatory.

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  4. discordian says:

    The pressure has to come from within the community. Right now it looks like a culture of “he does it, so I better do it too to stay competetive”.

    I say ban all current professional cyclists and coaches for life and start from scratch with the up and comers who can be brought into a non-doping culture.

    Either that or make doping mandatory.

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  5. hcordner says:

    People who think cycling is the only sport with a doping problem have their heads in the proverbial sand. Cycling isn’t the only sport with a doping problem; it’s just the one whose athletes get caught the most. Because top names are tested and pulled, cycling loses its credibility even while it’s trying to clean up its act.

    That said, I really don’t think an “approved” list is the solution. I agree that it comes down to the role that sports play in society: are they grand metaphors for the human spirit? Or are they simply entertainment? Of course, there is also the problem of, as posters have already stated, what’s to stop competitors from crossing that line?

    No, the WADA needs to step up its game. Harsher penalties for, not just athletes, but teams and sponsors are needed. The American sports leagues of the NFL, NBA, and MLB are far more guilty of not taking doping seriously than is cycling. Case in point, the NFL hands down a “harsh” FOUR GAME suspension for a first time offender.

    We need to break the doping omerta, the culture of acceptance of PED use in professional sports.

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  6. hcordner says:

    People who think cycling is the only sport with a doping problem have their heads in the proverbial sand. Cycling isn’t the only sport with a doping problem; it’s just the one whose athletes get caught the most. Because top names are tested and pulled, cycling loses its credibility even while it’s trying to clean up its act.

    That said, I really don’t think an “approved” list is the solution. I agree that it comes down to the role that sports play in society: are they grand metaphors for the human spirit? Or are they simply entertainment? Of course, there is also the problem of, as posters have already stated, what’s to stop competitors from crossing that line?

    No, the WADA needs to step up its game. Harsher penalties for, not just athletes, but teams and sponsors are needed. The American sports leagues of the NFL, NBA, and MLB are far more guilty of not taking doping seriously than is cycling. Case in point, the NFL hands down a “harsh” FOUR GAME suspension for a first time offender.

    We need to break the doping omerta, the culture of acceptance of PED use in professional sports.

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  7. ftelegdy says:

    “85% of all respondents … believe that cycling can NEVER be dope free. Then two questions later, 82% … believe that any cycler caught doping should receive a ‘lifetime ban’! So basically, public opinion is that we should shut down the sport completely!”

    There’s a flaw in your logic. A basic logic principle is that just because all of A are B doesn’t mean that all of B are A. Or, just because all [riders who are not dope-free] are [riders] doesn’t mean that all [riders] are [riders who are not dope-free].

    You’re equating the idea of “all riders not being dope-free” with the idea of “EVERY rider is using dope.”

    Let’s use an example of how the 80%+ of people could have it right…

    Say that currently the sport is 50% riders who dope and there are 1,000 professional riders. That gives us 500 who dope and 500 who don’t.

    If 400 of the dopers are caught and given a lifetime ban, that leaves us 500 who don’t dope and 100 who do. We now have 16.67% of riders who dope out of 600 riders.

    If, a year later, 250 riders join the sport and 50 of them dope, that gives us a total of 150 (100 previous + 50 new) who dope and 700 who don’t (500 previous + 200 new) for a total of 850 riders. This is a 17.6% doping rate.

    If 100 of the dopers are caught and given a lifetime ban, that leaves us 700 who don’t dope and 50 who do. We now have 6.67% of riders who dope out of 750 riders.

    And so on and so forth. The idea is that lifetime bans would promote a “cleaning up” of the sport, as shown in the example by a decline in the percentage of dopers.

    I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to think that any sport will ever be dope-free, but handing out lifetime bans would likely go a long way towards limiting how prevalent the problem is.

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  8. ftelegdy says:

    “85% of all respondents … believe that cycling can NEVER be dope free. Then two questions later, 82% … believe that any cycler caught doping should receive a ‘lifetime ban’! So basically, public opinion is that we should shut down the sport completely!”

    There’s a flaw in your logic. A basic logic principle is that just because all of A are B doesn’t mean that all of B are A. Or, just because all [riders who are not dope-free] are [riders] doesn’t mean that all [riders] are [riders who are not dope-free].

    You’re equating the idea of “all riders not being dope-free” with the idea of “EVERY rider is using dope.”

    Let’s use an example of how the 80%+ of people could have it right…

    Say that currently the sport is 50% riders who dope and there are 1,000 professional riders. That gives us 500 who dope and 500 who don’t.

    If 400 of the dopers are caught and given a lifetime ban, that leaves us 500 who don’t dope and 100 who do. We now have 16.67% of riders who dope out of 600 riders.

    If, a year later, 250 riders join the sport and 50 of them dope, that gives us a total of 150 (100 previous + 50 new) who dope and 700 who don’t (500 previous + 200 new) for a total of 850 riders. This is a 17.6% doping rate.

    If 100 of the dopers are caught and given a lifetime ban, that leaves us 700 who don’t dope and 50 who do. We now have 6.67% of riders who dope out of 750 riders.

    And so on and so forth. The idea is that lifetime bans would promote a “cleaning up” of the sport, as shown in the example by a decline in the percentage of dopers.

    I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to think that any sport will ever be dope-free, but handing out lifetime bans would likely go a long way towards limiting how prevalent the problem is.

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