Doping has become big news lately thanks to USADA and their release of the evidence against Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong has/had become a bigger topic for his transgressions in sports than even Tiger Woods. Of course Tiger is on the comeback trail and Lance will have to venture down that path at some point as well if he wants to rebuild his sports reputation. Please do not confuse his sports reputation with his reputation to raise funds for cancer as they are two completely different things. I applaud Lance for his ability to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer but I will not root for him in any way shape or form as an athlete. He cheated the system, and even if he says he is clean, there is too much smoke for their not to be a fire. I am not an attorney or a scientist so I cannot say for certain that he did take performance enhancing drugs but I sure can say that he must not be the nicest person. Why can I say that? To have this many people lined up at your door to knock you down you must have really pissed somebody off or just been an asshole to a lot of people. Either way I will not stand up in support of him as an athlete but wish him well in his ability to continue to raise money to help fight cancer.
Then there is the topic of the Christian Hesch and his apology for doping. Christian Hesch is/was a competitive runner who took EPO to improve his chances of winning running races. I was sent this article in the NY Times yesterday and I read it with an almost disbelief. I could not imagine for the life of me why somebody would take drugs to improve his chances at winning a running race in which he was probably barely covering the costs of the drugs, the travel, the entry fee and other items. It was not as if he was out there winning millions of dollars running these races. The article points out that he won $40,000 over the course of 3 years in which he was taking the drugs. That is not a lot of money at all to risk your reputation and who knows what side effects these performance enhancers will have on you in 10 years.
The most glaring point about Mr Hesch is that he only came out to tell this story because he got caught. Had he not been caught by teammates with syringes there is a very good chance he would still be doping. What is the point? How much money is he going to make through running these local races or even the Rock and Roll events? This is not baseball or football where there are million of dollars at stake, and even then I don’t see the point. Can Mr Hesch look at himself in the mirror and say that he ran a 4 minute mile? Can he look at his kids (if he has any) or his nieces and nephews who had looked up to him because he could run fast? The only reason he ran the times that he did was because he was taking EPO. These were not achievements that he accomplished on his own.
Back to the NFL and MLB players for a moment. I am not forgiving them for what they do nor is it more understandable from a money-making perspective. These athletes have a limited shelf life and need to bring in as much money as they can before they retire and have to go work like the rest of us. A player like Melky Cabrera who is a border line starter in Major League Baseball, before he took the performance enhancers, makes a decision that could earn him $40 million guaranteed over 4 years. In baseball where contracts are guaranteed I can see the lure, especially because a lot of the athletes come from poor communities and money is a way to help themselves and their families. Again, let me reiterate that I do not condone this but the lure of the money may be too great for these played to run away from and thus why they do what they do.
Yesterday after receiving this article from Kevin (Ironman By Thirty) he, Jeff (Dangle The Carrot) and I exchanged emails about this and Jeff made a very good statement. He said: I wonder how many AGers are doping? To this I stop and thought to myself…..how many are? I have written posts in the past about taking supplements and also about doping but didn’t really think about the AG competition doing it. The first thing I thought of was: How important is it to get to Kona? How important is it to get to Vegas? How important is it to get to Boston? For me being able to qualify for these events ranks right at the top for why I do them but never has it crossed my mind to take performance enhancing drugs to do it. If I get to Kona, Vegas or Boston it will be through hard work and should I never get there my life will not be worth less. It certainly would not be worth it to take the drugs to get there and then once there look at myself while getting ready for the race knowing that I did not achieve this status on my own. I would spend that morning thinking that I stole somebody else’s spot and I would not be able to live with myself. I spend a lot of time speaking to my step-son about working hard. That hard work is the only way to achieve greatness and to think that there are people out there who believe they are achieving greatness through doping. Makes no sense to me whatsoever.