A Modest Proposal
Forget about Barry Bonds' home run chase, Michael Vick's dog fighting empire and Tim Donaghy's gambling escapades - the most compelling (and controversial) event in sports right now is clearly the Tour de France. If you're not watching, you should be. Yesterday pre-Tour favorite Alexandre Vinokourov, suffering from injuries from a first week crash and over 1/2 hour behind the leaders, rose like a phoenix from the ashes to win the stage in a tremendous performance. Meanwhile, five minutes behind him on the mountain, the two titans of this Tour, Alberto Contador and Michael Rasmussen waged a battle for the ages. Time and time again Contador attacked. Each time Rasmussen dragged himself back onto Contador's wheel. It's impossible not to admire Vinokourov's bravery, Contador's aggressiveness and Rasmussen's grit. The problem, of course, is that we don't believe that these men naturally possess these attributes. The specter of doping is killing the sport.
Cycling is trying to reform itself and trying to get serious about doping. It's not working. Perhaps it's time for a new approach. Instead of trying to prevent doping, why not make it legal? Be transparent about it. Instead of being sponsored by telecoms, pro teams can be sponsored by drug companies. It'll be like auto racing. Just like Ferrari, Ford and Toyota use the racetracks to test and promote new technologies, companies like Merck, Novartis and Pfizer can use riders to test and demonstrate the latest drug advances.
Oh sure, we'll debate whether a rider is truly great or just has truly great drugs. But isn't that what happens now? Vino, Rasmussen & Contador have put on an incredible show, but Vino has links to dirty doctors, Rasmussen is under serious suspicion and Contador rides for those deans of doping, Discovery Channel. I'd rather know that someone won the Tour de France because of the combination of athletic ability, great bikes, excellent teamwork and tactics and really kickass drugs than endlessly wonder who cheats and who doesn't.
Posted by at July 24, 2007 09:03 AM
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|# July 24th, 2007 11:28 AM KVBigSis|
|And now Vinokourov has reportedly tested postitive for a banned transfusion - not coincidentally, in blood drawn after his time trial victory. |
|# July 24th, 2007 11:38 AM kris|
|Here's the article. It says that the entire Team Astana is gone.
Lance hypocritcally chimes in:
Lance Armstrong said he had no sympathy for cyclists who fail to report their whereabouts for drug tests.
Bite me. I think David Miller has it right, they might as well pack up and go home. Or consider my proposal.
|# July 24th, 2007 12:25 PM BVBigBro|
|No, no, no. Making it legal obliges everyone to become a druggie in order to compete. The proper position is to establish sporting criteria more stringent than some legal standard. This is what the Tour has been trying to do and it is working. The problem is that they are still tied to the UCI, and organization that has no interest in controlling doping.
That tie to the UCI is the reason the Astana team was even allowed to start, and the performance of non triallers in the time trial is a complete tip off as to who is doping. Astana having three of the top five was an embarassment. I said in my preview that they shouldn't be starting. As to Rasmussen, hopefully he will be kicked out shortly.
The solution is not to legalize doping. The solution is to establish a precedent of ruthlessly punishing riders, teams, doctors and team management up to and including even having contact with certain individuals such as "doctor" Ferrari.