October 22, 2012

Doping, Cycling, and Ice Charade's Idea of What to Do

Ahead (just barely) of the UCI's decision of what to do with Lance Armstrong's 7 Tour de France titles, I've got my own idea.

So, Miss Ice Charades, this isn't going to have anything to do with skating will it?

Not much really. Which is a good thing. Figure skating hasn't seen the doping problem that other sports, especially cycling has. That's in part because there isn't a performance-enhancing drug that covers strength, endurance AND agility. That agility part keeps skaters, gymnasts and divers from having to decide to dope or not to dope.

And that's what it could come down to ... if you read in this article, by Simon Austin on BBC Sports profiling cyclist, Scott Mercier, who "was the US Postal rider who resisted the pressure to dope" and because he did he had to quit competitive cycling.

Now, think of our elite skaters and wonder if they had to decide the same - that is to cheat by doping in order to win or stop competing. What would they do?

What would you do?

I would like to think I would say no. But I can't say with all honesty, that if I were that good, that I would refuse to cheat. Especially if everyone else was doing it. I would want to be one of the greatest wouldn't I? Elite athletes are the best competitors and it is not in their nature to stand on the sidelines and say, "no, not for me." Like Mercier is quoted in the end of the article, "he hopes no rider ever again has to leave the sport they love because they want to ride clean."

Now before I wade deeper into this discussion, let me state, that Miss Ice Charades is no cycling expert. I have no credentials in the sport. BUT, I have watched every stage of seven Tour de Frances, (5 of those that Lance won and two after his first retirement), which clocks in roughly 440 hours of Tour de France viewing. That's just enough to make me dangerous in having a point of view.

Lot's of folks have watched the Tour as much or more than I have and we'll all tell you that we've witnessed one cyclist after another being busted for doping. Dozens of them. (Fun fact, there's a wikipedia site : Doping at the Tour de France. It's all in there. There is a nifty chart toward the bottom that shows where the cyclists placed in each tour and it shows if Lance is stripped of his titles, you can't give the victory to anybody else, because 2nd, 3rd, 4th place on down is usuallly occupied by someone who doped or alleged to have doped. (In 2008, it starts to lighten up a bit, but it's still not a clean slate.)

So here's my idea of what to do ... I don't believe Lance should be stripped of his titles. They simply can't give them to anyone else. There should be an asterisk after his name that would cover *Doping. As in, that's what most of them did.

Then my next idea is to let cyclists dope. This one is controversial, I know. But I say, let's level the playing field by stopping the pretend-notion that now they're clean. If they want to dope, give themselves blood tranfusions, sleep in oxygen tents (I think they can do that one now) let them take the risks. They don't represent a country. In professional cycling they represent banks, telephone companies, newspapers, water, radios, pastries, sausages, and whatever "Liquigas" or as we say, leaky gas is.

If they want to represent their country and race in the Olympics, that's a different story. Let's keep the Olympics clean (cough, cough.) Well, let's keep trying to keep the Olympics clean.

So, what do you think? Strip the titles? Keep the titles? Something else? Let's hear it.

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