Saturday, July 01, 2006

Thoughts on the latest doping scandal in cycling

. Saturday, July 01, 2006

Now that Lance Armstrong is retired, I'm sure a lot of you aren't aware of the latest doping scandal in cycling. Called Operation Puerto, there was a recent doping bust in Spain of a Spanish doctor. The doctor was caught "red handed" with tons of doping products such as EPO, HGH, frozen bags of blood, and more. Also, as part of the raid, police gathered documents and records with names of dozens of the top cyclists supposedly treated by this doctor. As a result, some of the biggest names in cycling have been banned from participating in this year's Tour de France. Click HERE for today's stage results.

I just don't understand the state of cycling and its latest problems with doping. Doping is big headlines in almost every sport these days, but it seems to be especially prevalent and damaging to the sport of cycling. I'm not naive enough to think that cyclists don't dope, but there's a lot of stuff that just doesn't make sense or seems mighty fishy. For example, Lance Armstrong has had numerous doping allegations made against him, including being linked to a different doctor suspected of providing doping services, yet he has never tested positive. Some of Armstrong's most recent competition (Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso) were supposedly treated by this Spanish doctor and were banned from the TDF less than 24 hours before its start. They were banned from competing (by their respective teams) not because they tested positive but because of the appearance of impropriety. So let's assume that Ullrich and Basso are doping and Armstrong is clean. Isn't it amazing that Armstrong still kicked everyone's ass? There's no way in hell that Armstrong is riding clean if everyone else is doping. Mark my words, it might not be tomorrow, next week, or next year - but Armstrong will end up getting definitively linked to having doped during his career.

I wouldn't be surprised if the cyclists band together and form a "players union" similar to the other sports. I don't want there to be doping either, but this is turning into a big witch hunt. I feel that there have been innocent people caught in the crossfire and whose careers and reputations have been ruined. My favorite cyclist, Tyler Hamilton, is currently finishing up a 2-year ban for blood doping, which I believe he is innocent of. Some of the testing procedures and ethics of the testing laboratories have been questionable at best. The ethics of the people running the doping agencies have been even more questionable.

Across the board, the prestige of sports have been suffering due to the specter of performance enhancing drugs. Call me naive, but I just find it hard to believe that their use is that pervasive.