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Doping Era? We’re Still in It

July 13th, 2013 · No Comments · Drugs

Sports fans are trusting sorts. When a prominent athlete (or 10) runs afoul of a drugs test, and a prominent sports official suggests that the malefactors have been caught, and the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs ended … we tend to want to believe it.

Recent evidence, however, suggests the PED Era is absolutely not over. Which would be depressing, if we hadn’t been through this about a dozen times before?

The latest?

Tyson Gay, the premier U.S. sprinter, holder of the American 100-meter record, told the AP he has failed a drug test. Gay’s explanation? He trusted the wrong person for making sure he didn’t ingest PEDs.

Within hours, the agent for two prominent Jamaican sprinters, former men’s world record holder Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, said they also have failed a drug test, but insisted it was a matter of a stimulant and no big deal.

Earlier this month, Lance Armstrong, the king of doping (though Barry Bonds may want to contest that title) … told the French newspaper Le Monde that it was “impossible” to win the Tour de France when he was competing.

Which I have no doubt is true. Check the footnotes to the wiki item on winners of the Tour, and we see that no fewer than 10 of the past 17 winners subsequently announced they took PEDs while competing.

After Armstrong said he needed to dope, during the era when he won seven times, current riders complained about that statement, assuring everyone that all of them are now pure as the driven snow.

“Enough is is enough!” was the statement issued by a union representing European riders.

“It is disgraceful to be systematically dragged through the mud and be denigrated by people aiming to make money off our backs or seeking notoriety.”

Well, sorry. We cannot assume cycling is clean. Recent history proves it.

If we have learned anything, as we wait for nearly two dozen baseball players to be suspended for the Biogenesis scandal, is that drug usage in sports is pervasive, that a significant fraction of athletes will always do it if they think they can get away with it, and that the fight against drugging will never be over.

It is depressing. But fans always get over it. Always.


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