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  • Berne Shaw

    what a load of horse crap! Creative rationalization and depictions to ensure the framing of wanting clean athletes as a form of religious idealism.

    Throw this in the trash heap of justifiers of doping. Horrid! Half truths, mis characterizations, lies, and distorted conclusions. Yuck.

    • bigringjim

      Why does the use of drugs not make it ‘true sport’? Your ideal of some form of bread and water puritan sport has never existed. It’s a myth. The ancient Greeks took all sorts of enhancers. Ancient roman chariot racers took herbal infusions before races, six day racers in the 1800s took nitroglycerine, marathon runners in turn of the century Olympic marathons took strychnine. Pretty much every Tour De France has had it’s various ‘supplements’.

    • Nomad

      Cycling has a long history of drug use. It’s a fact and a reality, and people would be remiss in not understanding that. For example, take the 1950s…there was “Anquetil’s Cocktail,” which is essentially a combination of a painkiller, stimulant & sleeping pill. The 70s & 80s had their fair share of testosterone, steriods & amphetamines. The 90s saw the EPO & HGH epidemic. And once the EPO test was developed in 2000, O2-vector doping continued with riders simply transitioning to “old-fashion” blood doping along with microdosing EPO.

      Furthermore, the CIRC report from last year tells us a culture of doping still exists but that it’s been primarily pushed underground, and also mentions that doping doctors are still being used as a resource. And granted industry-strength doping has stopped with the ABP, but evidence of microdosing & blood-doping continue, along with the use of metabolic modulators (e.g., AICAR). And if people don’t think athletes have the edge on the testers…think again:


      For people who are realistic and have researched the PED issue, to them it’s no surprise nor mind blowing. They probably still follow their favorite rider(s) and enjoy the sport. I know it doesn’t change my outlook as I find the sport very entertaining.

    • ” true sport inspires as it is a symbol of our human potential.” Thanks for pointing this out, it’s something the author seems to either not understand or simply dismisses. His values seem to be based solely on money and/or entertainment.

      • bigringjim

        Once something becomes professional, then money and/or entertainment are exactly what it’s all about.

    • Ghisallo

      ” true sport inspires as it is a symbol of our human potential.” This sounds an awful lot like a religious tatement. A quasi-religious
      statement, I’ll grant you, but when you start talking of symbolic ideals that have to be accepted by a sort of faith (in human potential, in this case, apparently), then you’re within the sphere of religion. You even anathematize those who don’t accept the doctrine of fair play. Please understand, I don’t say this to accuse you of hypocrisy. Our religious impulse is so strong that whether or not we consciously follow one, we often make up our own little religions without even realizing it. And I agree with the author that sport can be one of them. I don’t think his other arguments necessarily follow from that premise, but I’ll leave it at that.

    • ZigaK

      “true sport inspires as it is a symbol of our human potential”
      You’re right there, but … I personally feel it is way overblown. Our greatest potential is in our hearts. The other day I was on my mtb, riding through the woods, and I see a flock of kindergarten kids, with the two teachers in the front. The last kid tripped and fell, and started crying. The teacher stopped, sighed and started on the old mantra, get up yourself, yada, yada, and before she even got a few words out, the three closest kids picked the fallen one up, cleaned him of sand and mud, and held hands with him so they caught up with the rest of the group. This for me was a couple of orders of magnitude more inspiring of humanity’s future than some guy riding his bike very fast or lifting a lot of mass from the ground above his head. To make matters worse, these are all feats that are achievable by simple means of in the latter example a forklift.
      That’s really great, potential to achieve goals our ingenuity surpassed long ago.

  • I had no idea that classical musicians use drugs to improve their ability to handle pressure. I’m guessing the pressure for a young musician is to also take those drugs.

    “The British Journal of Sports Medicine writers concluded that the prohibition of doping in sports — and the default moral outrage that meets any suggestion of a rethinking of the current dope-equals-evil schoolyard approach to the problem — paradoxically encourages athletes to push the limits of both dosages and new pharmaceuticals.”

    I predict moral outrage in response to the article.

  • velocite

    It was interesting to read about the relationships behind the USPS/UCI ignore doping strategy, but the comparison with the Wall Street is flawed I think. And it seems to miss out on the essence of sport. I’ve bought heaps of cycling books but this one won’t be joining them.

    • I think you are correct. I bought the book and the first chapter’s direction has me wondering whether it’s going to be worth reading the rest of it. Some of the “experts” he quotes are kind of on the fringes of their respective fields as well.

  • raystrach

    this is an interesting article, and makes a lot of valid points, especially when looking at doping in terms of black and white.

    unfortunately, a small amount of doping will always eventually lead to a doping arms race, justified by the old chestnut, “everyone is doing it”.

    legalised doping can only ever lead to sporting freaks contesting the biggest events, because only the dope fueled freaks will be competitive.

    we know this will happen, because it has happened already, albeit to a relatively mild extent, in a world where doping is banned.

    this taken to its logical conclusion, is a place none of us want to go to.

    whilst it may not always be successful and our efforts will nearly always be flawed, we have no choice but to continue with anti doping efforts.

    meanwhile, those caught doping do not deserve our contempt, rather our pity.

  • Paul Christopher

    Interesting but a few minor factual errors. Lone-wolf riders (primarily Dutch) only started experimenting with EPO in early 1990s, not late 1980s. Institutionalised, medically-supervised, use began shortly after, c.1993-1994, starting with teams like Once and Mapei, once the dangers of self-administration became tragically obvious.

    The other point is that, from a sporting perspective, across-the-board EPO use (and other heamo-boosting techniques) dulls the racing spectacle by levelling the playing field: the donkeys become racehorses, whilst the thoroughbreds don’t necessarily experience the same dramatic rise in performance – Result: hardly any breakaways succeed and every road race turns into a monotonous bunch line-out. The lack of spectacle, not some moral outrage, is what will ultimately kill the sport.

    • Nomad

      Interesting info, but I had heard speculation that several Dutch & Belgian riders had died experimenting with EPO in the late 80s. Here’s an old 91 NY Times article that goes into depth on suspected EP0-related deaths:


      Also, didn’t Conconi start working with Banesto in either 90 or 91?

      On your second point: Yes…it would appear that O2-vector doping with a high responder can transform a rider with little GT potential nor climbing ability into a GT winner (e.g., Riis & LA). However, some “thoroughbreds” and natural climbers have significantly benefited from EPO.

      For example, Pantani benefited greatly from EPO becoming a “superhuman” climber. This is a high responder who adapted very well to O2-vector doping. On his Wikipedia page you can see the data on his Hct values where he fluctuates between a 40.7% baseline to over 58%. Pantani holds the top three (3) fastest ascents up Alpe d’Huez, with one of those set in the post-50% era. He also finished 2nd in his first GT (94 Giro) at age 24. Then there’s Ullrich, who finished 2nd to Riis in the 96 Tour at only 22 yrs old…then when on to win it the next year at 23. And Ullrich’s teammate, Zabel (who’s admitted to using EPO thoughout his pro career), won 6 green jerseys in a row. I think, IMO, it’s more of how the athlete responds to EPO, and their adaptation to the higher Hct levels.


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