It's only fair to let athletes take dope

2012-10-29 07:31

Chris Moerdyk

If the world of professional cycling thinks it is going to become good and clean and fresh by making their one-time chief boy scout, Lance Armstrong, look like a complete dope, then frankly, they are bigger dopes than he is.

I do not believe for a minute that doping is ever going to be eradicated from sport, not only because it took the cycling bosses more than a decade to cotton on to Armstrong pulling the wool over their eyes but also because they keep adding so much to their list of banned substances that the only way any athlete is going to say cleans in future will be by not eating and drinking anything for two weeks before an event. And who the heck wants to watch a bunch of skeletal wretches on bicycles dying by the roadside halfway up the first hill?

I reckon the only way sporting federations are going to be able to maintain consumer interest and bring millions more to the games and watching on TV, is to legalise doping.


After all, why penalise sportsmen when so many others are making huge names for themselves and bundles of money by quite openly getting themselves doped to the eyeballs.

The entertainment industry is a classic case in point. Everyone knows that many legends of the music and the movies took drugs to keep themselves going. It's what got them through punishing concert tours; it's what got them through hours on stage leaping about and singing their hearts out. For many of them, if it wasn't for dope they would not be rich or famous. And did we care? I don't think so.

I reckon it is safe to say that the majority of the world's entertainment legends would probably not have become legends had they had a little chemical or liquid help.

It would also be naive to assume that cycling is the only sport riddled with a doping problem.

Even squeaky clean golf, where everyone is dressed neatly with conservative haircuts and bright, sparkly well-shaved faces, has its culprits who have to get a little help to relax. I was chatting recently to someone who has been on the pro-tour in the USA and he said that drugs were more the norm than the exception particularly among those battling to make a living out of the game.

The recent Olympic Games saw a number of athletes kicked out because they tested positive for banned substances. You have to ask yourself in all sincerity whether those were the only ones who were guilty. Especially now that we have found out how Lance Armstrong managed to get away with it so long in a sport that probably has the most rigid checks and balances when it comes to ferreting out doping.

And what about business? What about those really wealthy investment bankers, who work 24 hours a day in massively stressful circumstances? You mean to tell me they're just naturally tough?

Sure, they might just be talking the odd muscle relaxant, sleeping pill or a bit of prescription happy medication - but all of those things would get them into huge trouble if they were athletes.

So, I reckon that if the world is happy to go and watch pop stars and rocks bands who are all killing themselves by the age of 27, then what is the difference between that and watching a doped up athlete shaving three seconds off their world 100 metre record?

Whether it's about money or just honour, the playing fields are far from level. Rock stars can do it, film stars can do it, businessmen can do it, just about everyone on earth can do it but sportsmen can't. It's not fair.

It's double standards. So either ban everyone from taking dope in the quest for success, honour and money or let everyone do it if they wish.
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  • nrgx.nrg - 2012-10-29 08:23

    I say let them ALL take dope then, it will make things more interesting. Take athletics for example...boring to watch, but with dope even t he long jump can be entertaining. ...It could be a hop, skip and where the F did he go!

  • andrew.arnesen - 2012-10-29 08:32

    It's also prohibition which is a no-win scenario. People will always try to give themselves an advantage, legally or not. I agree with you totally- allow it to level the playing fields and start education campaigns which show the long-term effects. Then let people make up their own minds...

  • licence.tothink - 2012-10-29 08:35

    "And what about business? What about those really wealthy investment bankers, who work 24 hours a day in massively stressful circumstances? You mean to tell me they're just naturally tough?" I see another sucker fell for the "investment bankers are worth their pay" myth. Go read "Fooled By Randomness" by Nassim Taleb to get an insight on how investment bankers really get rich.

      napolita.kio - 2012-10-29 09:17

      Licence, I could be wrong, however I think you missed what the quoted line meant to convey. I think what he meant was that even investment bankers who work so hard for so long COULD be doing so under the influence of some ingested stimulants. Well, there are records of Wall Street executives who smoke weed even in their offices. The same thing has been reported of lawyers.

      chris.moerdyk - 2012-10-29 11:51

      I certainly meant that investment bankers COULD NOT possibly work that hard without having a lot of chemical help.

      Licence - 2012-10-29 12:00

      Chris, Napolita – I’m not disputing that investment bankers take stimulants. I’m contesting the *reason* for them taking it – it has absolutely nothing to do with hard work or stress. It has more to do with their flippant lifestyle which resulted from getting rich by simply being a man in the middle.

  • gungets.tuft - 2012-10-29 09:04

    Anyone who disagrees with this standpoint must ask themselves this question. If there were 2 Tour De France's run at the same time. Day 1 would have the "do as you please" athletes (enter every single one of the top cyclists in the world, including "Mr Clean" Bradley Wiggins). Then following them the next day, the clean athletes. Who will you turn on your TV to watch - the clean cyclists? Same with the Olympics. Are you going to stay up till 11pm at night to watch the 100m final won in 9.9 sceonds, or would you watch Usain Bolt cleaning up in 9.58. I say open it up - let then do what they like. The drugs will take their toll eventually, witness soccer players having heart attacks on the field of play after OD'ing on stimulents. The argument for telling kids to NOT use drugs would be "do you want to die like him".

      gordon.turner.37 - 2012-10-29 10:23

      Cearly we appreciate sport for different reasons. Ben Johnsons 9.79 on roids was not broken until 2005. Did you admire him for that and not watch any races between 1988 and 2005? Purity of sport is the defining principle... it must be preserved!

      jacowium - 2012-10-29 11:05

      You asked this same question before on another page, and I recall more votes going up for watching the clean race rather than the laboratory rat race. So I'm not sure why you're trying to hammer your point home. Like the poster above said, we clearly appreciate sport for different reasons. You like the spectacle, we like the contest.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-10-29 11:05

      Gordon - I agree, but it is a pipe dream. I carried on watching after Ben Johnson - of course I did, but Johnsons record was taken away and the official record continued to be broken, by athletes who are one step ahead of the testing authorities. Putiry would be great, but unachievable. The only way would be to change testing - as they have in the TDF - and keep samples for 10 years. At some stage the testing will catch up and the athletes will be caught. Will that stop them - no. They will take the endorsement money, the prize money and all the gains that go along with it, then say sorry later. All that will change is the feeling of disappointment from the purists (you and me both) when they get caught. Delayed (lack of) gratification. Oh - and the sponsors that shower them with money will also carry on regardless, just like Nike did, even helping them avoid justice (just like Nike did by bribing ley officials), because they are also just in it for the money. Sad reality - I am under no illusions. Purist sport - watch them until they get to about 17 years of age - then the best are on the juice. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-10-29 11:56

      Jaco - it was a question on another article - not trying to hammer anything home - but thanks ever so much for your contribution. I would love a clean contest - I am at a loss as to how that is achieved. Have you got any ideas? As for contest vs spectacle - are you sure. If all we could ever achieve was a "clean" Amashova, would you never watch TDF or the Olympics again, or rugby test match, or S15 game, or Rugby and Soccer World Cup. They are all drugging - you know that, even if just steroids to bulk up or recover, or a little "cough mixture" to stop that little niggle.

  • shane.asselbergs - 2012-10-29 09:11

    Poor reasoning all round. The reason why doping is banned is more for the long-term health consequences than the performance enhancement. Also, all that you would accomplish is a further widening of the already huge disparity between the sporting results of rich nations who can afford super-complex performance enhancements, and the rest who will be unable to fund the research or even buy the product (do you really think the US would let your athletes use their latest new drugs? No, you must research and develop your own). It will be a competition between labs, not athletes. Also, calling for the complete use of performance enhancing drugs simply for YOUR enjoyment irrespective of the athletes long-term health may well be analogous to crowds watching over Roman gladiators being slaughtered simply to satisfy the fancies of the spectators. There is a simple test to see how much you really want these drugs in sport - first read up on the health effects, and then ask yourself: would you be happy about your 14 year-old son taking anabolic steroids to make the first team at school so that he can get scouted by the Bulls/Stormers/etc?

      oistar.tutu.9 - 2012-10-29 09:47

      But Lance was not stripped for the long term consequences he was stripped for "cheating"

      andrew.arnesen - 2012-10-29 14:48

      Nonsense! Since when did the sporting authorities care about long-term health benefits? They care about trying to keep the competition fair and that means banning dope, not because it kills people but because it gives them an unfair advantage. And, at top levels, it always has been about "your" program versus "our" program (and, implicitly, who spent the most money...) I think YOUR reasoning is poor...

      buzz.rsa - 2012-10-31 11:18

      Some odd reasoning here. So it's OK for 14 year old boys to to hurl themselves at each other as hard as possible to try an make it to the 1st team, as if this is a consequence free action. No one is saying kids should be allowed to take performance enhancing drugs. Viewing professional sports as being drug free at the moment is idealistic. The playing fields are not even as their are those who play by the rules and those who don't, but get away with it. If someone wishes to have the edge by ruining their body, so be it. The gladiators didn't have a choice... today's sportsmen and women do.

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2012-10-29 09:16

    Are you smoking something? Cheating will never be right. And, for heaven's sake, don't compare competitive sport with the arts and pop groups!

      oistar.tutu.9 - 2012-10-29 09:50

      Where do you draw the line about cheating. Going to the gym more regularly than someone else then could also be classified as cheating, using this argument. By going to gym you are enhancing your performance. Frankly, was Oscar also not cheating with his blades? They have enhanced his performance

      gordon.turner.37 - 2012-10-29 14:56

      The fact that Oscar runs a negative split on the 400m is the proof of the advantage he has with the blades.... but that is another story. The logic Chris uses is that same that says lets allow all politicians to be corrupt... completely flawed and only leaves one result

  • oistar.tutu.9 - 2012-10-29 09:46

    I fully agree with you.If you go thp the gym and train you have enhanced your performance. If you eat better than other people, you have enhanced your performance. If you do breathing exercises you enhance your performance. Why then is it suddenly a negative trait to enhance your performance via chemicals?

  • donald.perumal - 2012-10-29 11:14

    Chris What are you smoking man? Soon dope will have to be freely available on the streets because all sportsem/women are taking it,then there will be nobody watching sport because all the people will be sprawled out,spewing their guts out on the sidewalks! I am trying to work out the mentality of the person who employed you-you are self employed, right?

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-29 11:19

    Olyp-X : The no limits sporting extravaganza .

  • leon.nel.52 - 2012-10-29 11:30

    Chris, cleary you've been smoking to much dope yourself !

  • anna.koen - 2012-10-29 11:43

    Seriously?!? What brought on this weird view that legalising doping is a good idea..... Lance Armstrong fan, are you?!?! A lot of people admired him, but the mighty has fallen, so don't try to justify it, it is what it is. As for you reference to entertainers using drugs... I don't think anyone should admire them for doing it, Ozzy bit the head off a bat on stage - if you call that performance enhancing, then we have seperate views on what drugs do to people. Where is the pride in winning when you couldn't do it with our own ability? I am not naive, doping will always be a part of sport, but it shouldn't be easy, and there should be consequences when you are caught. Just because it is hard to stop people from doing illegal things, doesn't mean that it should just be legalised then, hell, why don't we legalise murder and rape, because we sure have a hard time stopping people from doing that too.

  • tshepo.mogamisi - 2012-10-29 12:16


  • louis.marais.35 - 2012-10-29 13:22

    I was highly amused by support of Lance's suspension and title removals from the cycling world. Not one honest person came out and said they are against it. I think this is all ridiculous. He won those races, end of story. You cannot change history.

  • vaaldonkie.visagie - 2012-10-29 14:59

    The problem is that people like mr. Armstrong took so much EPO that they had to be attached to heart monitors at night to ensure that they didn't die in their sleep. Is this the kind of example one wants to set for young riders who can't afford an entire medical team? But I'm all for a doping arms race where everything's allowed. But then it should be limited to professional sports.

  • marc.hugo.75 - 2012-10-30 15:33

    Excellent article Chris and indeed, rawl-bolted to reality. If dope had never been invented, the best would still be the best. But since it has been invented, can you take the risk of handicapping yourself by not availing yourself of every reasonable advantage? And it is reasonable despite what we all may think. In any case, you can't turn a donkey into a race horse. So, I say, on with the show and lets neither judge nor sanction on the vagaries of chemical enhancements. I am interested in performance and don't care whatever about the athletes health. I have to worry about mine and they have all day to care about their own. They choose to enter the arena - then they will do the calculations and decide whether it is worth it. All sports, in fact all occupations have risk.

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