Sunday 20 December 2009

Love for the Doper

Love for the Doper (

I came across this posting via the Bike Pure website. It's an interesting take on the doping issue although it's not one I'm feeling very comfortable about.

The essence of his argument is that doping in sport is addictive, progressing from amateur dabbling to professional dependence. The thesis is that dopers can't help themselves and therefore should be pitied.

I realise the author, as an alcoholic is, thankfully, better qualified than me to speak about addiction but, as a cycling fan, here are 5 reasons why this makes me uncomfortable, in no particular order:

1) Dopers are not victims! It's undoubtedly true that there has long been an organised system within cycling, leading, or driving, impressionable young riders down a road they may not have traveled unaided. However, it's rare that one of these young "victims", or even supposedly clean riders, elects to come clean once they reach the peaks where that pressure wouldn't be present. Senior riders over the years, some undoubtedly brought up on doping, have been the driving force behind the Omerta, not it's victims. Think Lance and Simeoni!

2) Giving the doper the addict tag implies that they are on an involuntary downward slide. It creates the impression that the doper is spiraling to an inevitable ruin. However, doping is a voluntary activity. Further the intention, and until recently likely outcome, is quite the opposite. Doping is designed to raise the rider upwards to a career steeped in riches and glory.

3) An alcoholic or drug addict may or may not be aware of, or accepting of, their addiction. In contrast the doper is fully aware of what they are doing. Its a deliberate act designed to enrich the doper. Furthermore the history of doping is one of conscious, deliberate striving for that more effective, less detectable drug.

4) An alcoholic or drug addict undoubtedly leaves a trail of hurt among those close to them as they indulge their habit. In contrast a doper brings glory and riches to their immediate circle, with the hurt only coming if and when they are caught, ironically at the point the doping probably stops. Funny enough I can't recall any of those sharing in the glory and riches blowing the whistle either!

5) It's common to hear of a drug addict resorting to stealing from an innocent party to raise the cash to feed their addiction. The doper steals results, money and fame from their opponents as a direct, intended consequence of their doping, not as a by product. And not many of them (even David Millar) feel the need to give back their winnings/bonuses/salaries even with the UCI contract.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a "hang-em-all" reactionary and I do feel compassion towards someone who has the prospect of fame and fortune dangled in front of them if only they'll just bend over and take the jab. But  when you read Bernard Kohl's latest revelations it's hard to buy the victim line.

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