Doping is something that I cannot accept in any way shape or form. If you use HGh, testosterone, EPO, and everything in between then you should be banned from sport. There is no question about. If the rules state that you are not allowed to take Vitamin D supplements and you do then you are cheating. That is a clear hard-line. I cannot see anyway around that. Yet, today I find myself to be a hypocrite because I recently posted on LinkedIn and the CTER Facebook Page about an unsanctioned race that would include Lance Armstrong, Macca, Chris Lieto and others and defending the fact that Lance Armstrong would be included as not a big deal because it was an unsanctioned event.
After reading an Op/Ed piece written by Ulrich Fluhme on the Lava Magazine website I have found myself contemplating this idea as well as having changed my mind about that particular race. In the piece Mr Fluhme makes the claim that the gains made by doping do not go away after the doping has stopped if the person is still training. That idea never occurred to me and so today I stand before you calling myself a hypocrite about the doping and allowing Lance to race in an unsanctioned event. According to Mr Fluhme’s piece: A lifetime ban for proven guilty dopers is appropriate, because permanent adaptations made from doping will always provide an advantage over others who didn’t dope. Doping is irreversible.
I have not done any research into this but it stands to reason that it would be accurate. If you dope and improve your performance through that drug and training then you have elevated your base level. The only way I can see that be reversible is if the athlete did not do any form of training and allowed their body to become Oscar The Grouch and eat anything and everything with no care in the world. At that point I could see the body becoming a wasteland. Outside of that the gains that the doper made are going to be with them for a lifetime. I equate this to the off-season for myself. For example, I did not run a lot in September/October/November but have been running 50+ miles for the past three weeks. In those three weeks my pace per mile has improved while my heart rate zone has remain unchanged. This means that my body is more efficient. If the doper gets their body to a certain point and maintains it then the next time they enter into a training cycle they are starting from a point that is above where they would naturally be. This is clearly an unearned advantage and one I cannot stand by and defend.
Short of a lifetime ban I cannot think of another way to punish those that break the rules. Mr Fluhme speaks about 4 year bans on Olympic athletes so that they cannot compete in the next set of games and that makes some sense but in the triathlon world where there is no 4 year staged event like the Olympic Games allowing a person to return to action two years after they were found to be doping seems like very little punishment.
Let’s use an elite age grouper that is 24 years old. They dope right out of the gate to earn a pro card and do not get caught until they are 28. They have been doping for 4 years and are now a pro. If the ban is two years and they return at the age of 30 do they not have a clear advantage over the field? Their baseline is well above those that were clean and they still have 5-7 years to earn wages that were gained through deception and cheating. To me this does not make sense to allow that happen. Ban them altogether with no recourse.
Now, the Op/Ed piece goes into second chances. That is what this country was built on and I am a big believer in that so in this case I agree with the author in that we should not turn our backs on the doper but in fact encourage them to do something else. Maybe start a bike shop or tri shop. Find another passion and pursue that with abandon but to allow them to race again in 2 or 4 years I do not agree with. Maybe an organization like the WTC can hire that person to go around and conduct clinics on the effects of doping and why it is not worth it in the grand scheme of things.
I know there will be those that say things along the lines of:
- What if the test proves to be incorrect?
- What if the athlete was taking something that was approved by their Doctor?
These things may happen. I think that these will have to be reviewed on a case by case basis but when all the evidence is on the table and appeals are done then and only then should a lifetime ban be automatic. I believe in due process so let it play out but when that final answer is given there can be no other course of action.
I am sure that there are going to be people who disagree with me and that is more than acceptable. If you disagree, please feel free to voice your opinion on this matter but do so in a way that allows for conversation. Do not get so passionate that you call me an idiot or a moron. I am not the end all be all, but I do have an opinion on the matter and will be happy to have a civilized discussion.