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schmalz's log 2011 Part 16

Fri, 01/21/2011 - 8:31am by schmalz

In a recent article on Cyclingnews, Floyd Landis proposed that instead of trying to catch drug cheats that are way ahead of the testers, cycling should legalize doping (with medical monitoring). It's a controversial and pessimistic view (if anyone has the right to be pessimistic about cycling, it's Floyd Landis). I admire Floyd's willingness to stand up and tell the truth, but I'm not sure I agree with him when it come to legalizing doping, I think there may be some complications if the sport decides to go "full drugs". Here are some considerations.

At what age do the kiddies get to start the injections?

I'm not a hand wringer when it comes to children's safety (both of my daughters received Barbie chainsaws on their fourth birthdays), but if drugs are to be legalized, we will have to decide which age is right for starting a regimen of routine injections. Should the age be eighteen? Should the riders wait until they turn pro? Pro contracts are a valuable commodity—every edge helps.

Say you child shows a talent for cycling, should you get ahead of the game and start the drugs as soon as they hit puberty? Should they get hormone therapy? Can you buy these things at Costco (because we really like to buy in bulk at our house)? These are all questions a motivated parent (someone like Marv Marinovich, for example) would want to know, because every little bit helps, and if you want to ride like a pro, you have to inject like a pro.

If you are on a poor team, you are going to die

Good drugs and doctors cost money, and teams with smaller budgets simply won't be able to keep up with the big teams when it comes to making their blood into an oxygen-thick, race winning goo. This will force them to either fall behind or cut costs when it comes to their medical program. Perhaps they will find discount drugs overseas, or they will get by with less oversight from the team doctor, either way they are in for trouble. While some racers have shown themselves to quite adept at managing their own medical program, if you have everyone on the sauce, chances are that someone will slip up during an injection or take too much or too little, resulting in a trip to the hospital or ever worse, death (death is bad). Plus, they will have the added challenge of not knowing if the discount drugs they are taking are legit. They could be counterfeits, or they could be sourced from countries that make children's toys covered in paint so lethal that one lick can stunt not only a child's growth, but the growth of those around them. Trust me, you don't want to inject something that looks like it has backwash, bit of twigs and hair floating in it. 

You don't want to be the first sport that goes full drugs

Sponsors want to look good. Granted they may be a heartless multi-national corporation with factories staffed by youngsters all over the world, but that doesn't mean they still don't want to seem like they care. This is why they sponsor charities, community events and sporting teams. They want to put a positive image out in the public eye. What they don't want to do is be the company that sponsors a sport that allows its participants to explore the pharmaceutical world for athletic betterment. Let some other sport go first. Cycling has taken enough hits, and if cycling decides to go full drugs, the sponsors will jump ship faster than teenagers at a busted keg party.

This issue is, athletes don't dope because they have a love of thick, thick blood, they dope because they think they need to keep up or they dope because they want an unfair advantage over their competitors. If you legalize the drugs athletes take now, they will simply become part of the program necessary for competing. This will prompt athletes who are willing to take risks with their health to search for drugs that no one else has, resulting in a pharmaceutical brinksmanship, where those willing to take the biggest risks get the biggest rewards. The fact is even if you allow doping, you will still have to monitor it (so people don't die), which doesn't save any effort, and for teams it adds another program that they have to finance. The effort and money it would take to monitor legal doping could easily be spent on monitoring whether the riders were clean or not.

I realize that people are already cheating the current doping controls in the sport and that stinks, but as of now it's considered wrong. People will always cheat to get ahead, but if you stop trying to catch them you don't make something not wrong; you just choose to ignore it. 

Well, that's enough preaching; we have tedious and monotonous training numbers to look at. And here they are: I've ridden indoors on my trainer for an hour at midday for almost every day this week, which makes me crabby and in the mood to write sanctimonious internet rebuttals. And I'm getting fatter.



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one major flaw....
By: Siebe Clearcoat
Mon, 01/24/2011 - 1:33pm that the worlds largest sport has already gone down this route (doctoring children)!

Step forward, Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or 2010 (awarded to the Worlds best soccer player).

Lionel was given HGH (Human Growth Hormone) as a child. Worse than that - he only signed for Barcelona at the age of 13 on the condition that they continued to fund his treatments.

schmalz - the world is changing for kids, and not for the better.....

one major flaw........
By: Siebe Clearcoat
Mon, 01/24/2011 - 1:32pm that the worlds largest sport has already gone down this route (doctoring children)!

Step forward, Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or 2010 (awarded to the Worlds best soccer player).

Lionel was given HGH (Human Growth Hormone) as a child. Worse than that - he only signed for Barcelona at the age of 13 on the condition that they continued to fund his treatments.

schmalz - the world is changing for kids, and not for the better.....

Mike is exactly right
By: Dieter Drake
Mon, 01/24/2011 - 11:29am

Well said.

haha yeah right
By: former park rider
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 2:56pm

"from the deep south to california"...
gonna take that to mean "from the deep south to the slightly less deep south"

Bath Salts A Growing Drug Problem
By: Hurricane Charlie
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 2:50pm

Something to think about when you guys are thawing out in the tub after your rides today

Making drug use legal might
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 1:56pm

Making drug use legal might not be possible. Dan and Floyd fail to note that some of the drugs like epo and steroids are controlled substances in the US, EU and many other countries and require a doctor's prescription to be obtained legally. I doubt that it will be legal for doctors to write prescriptions for these drugs to enhance performance for professional athletes.

The sport of cycling cannot legalize the use of illegally obtained substances.

The inability to legally acquire the drugs most at issue, (epo and steroids) also makes Dan's raising the issue of kids use a red herring. Kids are not going to get prescriptions for steroids and obtaining the drugs in any other way would be illegal regardless of any changes in cycling rules.

Many other drugs banned by WADA like Sudafed are commonly used by kids to treat colds and the age at which kids can start using these drugs is a settled issue.

The UCI or other cycling body also cannot legalize drug use as long as they want to maintain cycling as an Olympic sport. One of the resons that baseball was dropped from the Olympics was the refusal of MLB to adhere to WADA policy. Five game suspensions for steroid use was not credible.

Love the
By: Seppe Crank
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 11:08am

Tropic Thunder reference.

schmalz you suck and lance
By: Palla Axle
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 10:37am

schmalz you suck and lance rules.

By: Uncle
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 10:20am

if my Auntie had some, she'd be my Uncle...
alrighty then...
JV should fire himself...
or tell the truth.

I suspect that
By: Dieter Drake
Sun, 01/23/2011 - 9:44am

Floyd was simply taking the opportunity to 'vent' a little. CN loved (and printed) every word.

In any case, anarchy is not a solution.

in utero doping, a cool way
By: Guccio Tubie
Sat, 01/22/2011 - 8:06pm

in utero doping, a cool way to stay ahead of the biological passport

I think that I have 1/1000th
By: schmalz
Sat, 01/22/2011 - 3:23pm

I think that I have 1/1000th of the readers that Perez does.

By: MQ
Sat, 01/22/2011 - 2:53pm

Just for the record I dont read any of those..blogs..... just yours

By: MQ
Sat, 01/22/2011 - 2:51pm

Youre a blogger, dont worry youre in good company Nikki Finke And Perez Hilton. Yeah BOI!!!!!

eyes wide open
By: Sacha Chamois
Sat, 01/22/2011 - 2:24pm

Facetious or not, Floyd strikes a chord. WE all have something to say on the matter, but this article is by far the best opinion I have read lately in light of this whole sorry picture. It really is just as simple as Schmalz puts it. How far are we willing to go? My mind can actually visualize parents layering a drug schedule into to daily life and budget for their kids right along side ballet class and math tutors. This could/would get way out of hand should we ever have organized doping in sport. The moral fiber of our culture would experience a serious paradigm shift. One that I would be happy not to be around to witness...

I simply asked, if doping is
By: schmalz
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:50pm

I simply asked, if doping is legalized, what age should kids start doping, it's a straight forward question. I would also tell you to bite me, but I fear your poor reading comprehension would have you biting yourself.

By: Tom Setscrew
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:29pm

seriously? what the kids might think or be exposed to? weak. fucking weak. one, kids aren't dumb. two, this is pro fucking bike racing. get your fucking mind around it already. it's about doping--always has been, always will be.

your suppositions, apparently stemming from fetishistic pursuits in extremely low-grade and low competition american amateur cycling, are so far removed from the reality in pro cycling. doping is not some current trend, but the singular thread through its history. if a kid decides to get into racing, that's what he has to deal with. just like football--you want to play at the next level, you gotta juice. that's life.

either way, get over the idea of "cleaning up" cycling. you can't. deal with it, and leave your wimpy moralizing, and children out of it.

When Cyberdyne systems gets
By: mikeweb
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 3:11pm

When Cyberdyne systems gets into cycling 'technology', we're all screwed.

Especially when their first TdF champion becomes self-aware.

i hope they legalize doping.
By: Mathias Seatpost
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 3:08pm

i hope they legalize doping. i'd like to pick up some 'roids and a rocket popsickle on a nice sunny day in cp. how sweet would that be? pretty sweet. literally.

6:19, you know where the
By: Oderigo Stiff
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 3:05pm

6:19, you know where the endgame of what you're proposing leads to, right? Do you really want it to become a sport where 50 years from now, racers are getting cybernetic legs and other body part upgrades so they can put out megawatts of power? Yeah it sounds sort of cool, but in reality it would be a freak show.

Genetic Limitations??
By: Enzo Threadlock
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:42pm

read Gladwell , talent is overrated. totally different view on genetics in sport, also recommend guns germs and steel if you really want to know about genetic limitations , or actually the lack there of

By: Samuel Supple
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:36pm

When was that period, I think you are confusing technology with modern technology. People have been using technology to enhance there health and strength for millennia and it was no more natural than the technology we are using today, there is no line that can be draw to say people started using technology in this or that year. And perhaps the same could be said of cheating, it has always been with us and always will.

By: Ludd Ite
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:29pm

I for one am against cell phone service in the subway

People compete to see who is
By: long-winded boring guy
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:19pm

People compete to see who is the biggest, fastest, strongest. Pre-technology, the only effective way to do that was to physically train.

Post-technology, there are additional, highly effective ways to make physiological advances.

Putting aside that taking certain substances is ethically wrong (i.e., a serious rule violation), most feel that there is inherently something *morally* wrong with doping: you don't "earn" a victory if you don't train for hours and hours to achieve it.

That view is simplistic, and outdated. In a world where we understand that many of our physical strengths and limitations are genetic, we know for certain that there is no level playing field. To assume that doping is automatically morally wrong (again, aside from being ethically wrong which is indisputable) is about as logical as thinking that being born to athletically gifted parents is morally wrong.

It is conceivable that sports could be "fairer" when doping is legalized and sanctioned; it could be used to level the genetic playing field. The *top* professional athletes right now use basically the same training methods and have similar work ethic. That leaves only two determinants of winning: luck, and genetics. Take away the genetic advantage and work ethic/training methods become a relatively more important determinant of victory.

Overall, this controversy has less to do with "cheating" than most think and more to do with people interacting with and adjusting to a new technology. New technology is scary. People have a strong familiarity bias, and something that causes significant changes to the status quo is always unsettling, and can challenge many pre-conceived moral values.

I'll go so far as to predict that within 100 years - probably much sooner - our current anti-doping views will seem extremely quaint. People want to live longer, and better, and should seek out any means to do so. When it comes to athletics, people always want to do better. How one achieves that betterment - training harder, training smarter, using protein/sugar drinks, using pharmaceuticals, using gene therapy - they are all morally equivalent. One cannot distinguish between them without being arbitrary.

More generally, being anti-technology will never be a successful long-term strategy. You cannot stop doping from becoming legitimate; you can only slow its advance and acceptance. The endgame is already written, because it works. And when a technology works, it becomes universally adopted. Every time, without fail.

i have a teammate who raced
By: pro ass hit
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:16pm

i have a teammate who raced on a pro development team in europe as a junior in the 90s. he said that doping was rampant and not medically supervised. not surprisingly a fair number of riders got pretty sick from it.

situations like this are the best argument against loosening the rules.

to take the doping out of
By: schbalz
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 12:31pm

to take the doping out of cycling would be to take away cycling's greatest tradition.

did you just
By: m. creed
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:37am

go full retard?

Another point (implicit in
By: Baptiste Threadlock
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:20am

Another point (implicit in your first parenthetical) is that even with "full drugs," cycling will still need an official monitoring system in place in order to keep cyclists from killing themselves. Inevitably this will result in some sort of regulating boundaries for doping, for instance an upper level at which blood viscosity becomes lethal. Teams and racers on the cusp will seek to take advantage of these limitation, and in the end we'll be in the same place we are now just with an even more ineffectual governing body.

Doping will be "legal," but those responsible for keeping it (relatively) safe just won't give a shit.

Armstrong still the best
By: Romain Sealant
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:17am

Armstrong still the best cheat and the best cyclist in a field of cheats. Yes, even Jens.

controled cheats
By: Enzo Threadlock
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:49am

it may be better the way it is, some guys will never cheat, some guys will always cheat. every sport needs a good guy and a good guy gone bad. and a pure evil guy you hate

i just wish we had cheaper testing, and quicker suspensions, and shorter suspensions, like 3 months. two years is an over reaction to bad testing and slow results.

go full-drugs? dude, cycling
By: schbalz
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:45am

go full-drugs? dude, cycling went full-drugs a long time ago

I think that responses like
By: Marv
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:08am

I think that responses like this were the intent of Floyd's provocative comments. And I'll bet he would respond to this article by saying, Dan don't be naive, kids are already wondering when they should start and richer teams do have an advantage with a bigger drug budget. Its like the argument for paying college athletes, it doesn't change things much just ends the hypocrisy.

I think he is just being provocative, society needs a certain amount of hypocrisy to live with itself.

By: gluesniffer
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 9:47am

A reminder why we love football (both kinds)

The kids are all right
By: Pelvis Costello
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 9:38am

The kids are already taking drugs, just like we did. The difference is that we wanted to be hippie heroes and punk rockers, not skinny little bike jockeys. We turned out OK, with the possible exception of that giant red-eyed rabbit that now lives in my closet.

By: cafe de californepo
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 9:31am

california governor
california bike race

dept of treasury
gold men sux

pot belge

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