September 30, 2010

So, what’s the big deal with doping and cycling? Hasn’t this been asked a million times before and hasn’t the issue been raised in concert with such names as Hamilton, Armstrong, Ulrich, Pantani and Landis.
Well now, according to a NY Times story, Alberto Contador has tested positive for a banned substance. And that might mean his title – and respect – and maybe his career – will all go away.
Is it such a big deal? Isn’t everyone doing it?
I don’t think so. I think the truly gifted are not cheating and have not cheated in their winning ways. I choose to believe that Lance Armstrong didn’t cheat during any of his Tour de France wins. I also choose to believe that Floyd Landis was clean for the bulk of his career as was Tyler Hamilton.
The difficulty comes with the pressure to perform and I don’t know anyone who isn’t in that position can relate. I’m a great empathizer, but even I don’t know what it’s like to feel the pressure of pro athletes breathing down my neck as I strive to complete a bike race, baseball or football game.
And the stakes are so high if you give it careful thought. So much money is on the line. So limited is the window of opportunity for a human athlete in regard to skill level. And there’s massive ego involved.
I don’t have the answers today and might never have them. But I wanted to get people thinking about this stuff. Especially as we look at Contador being accused of cheating and possibly losing his TDF title.
How do I feel about this? I am angry. If Contador played by the rules, maybe Lance would have his eighth title. Not saying Contador cheated in 2009, but if he cheated this year he could have cheated before.
What do you think?