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1 MichaelJ  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 6:36:12pm

It sounds like there isn't a single cyclist that can be trusted. If everyone is doping, is it still an unfair competitive advantage?

2 Dadaist  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 6:38:53pm

I don't complain about athletes who are owning up explaining that they felt they had to dope to compete, particularly in the context of a sport like cycling in the 90s and 00s. Leipheimer is quite correct to say that people have the impression of dopers as bad apples as solitary cheats, but in fact doping is everywhere in professional sports, its highly organised and in some contexts it comes perilously close to mandatory for those who want pro careers. Understanding that is a key part of tackling sports doping.

I agree with you that it's pretty much impossible to believe Armstrong won clean after reading the file. There are just too many mutually reinforcing witness statements, mostly from people who were never caught themselves, which go into too much detail.

3 Dadaist  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 6:43:06pm

re: #1 MichaelJ

Yes. Tyler Hamilton's (rather harrowing) book is a good primer on this. Basically, different athletes react differently to the same substances and different amounts of money get you different drugs programs with different doctors of different levels of ability. It isn't as simple as going around and adding say 7% to everyone's ability, leaving in the same place relative to each other.

Also, even during the worst years, the Tour still had guys competing clean. Bassons is the most famous example. No level playing field there. Those guys had to be freakish specimens just to hold onto the back of a doped field.

4 lostlakehiker  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 6:56:24pm

re: #1 MichaelJ

It sounds like there isn't a single cyclist that can be trusted. If everyone is doping, is it still an unfair competitive advantage?

It's not an unfair competitive advantage. But it's a classic Pareto-non-optimal solution. If nobody doped, everybody would be back where everybody was before everybody started doping. All slower, but relative to each other, back to square one. [Well, collectively. There were individuals who gained more from doping than did others.] Minus the expense and health risk and risk of getting caught and risk of suspicion even if not caught. Because we all kind of knew.

Now that the testing seems to have got the edge on the doping, the sport has a chance to clean up. That's a win for everybody.

5 Charles Johnson  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 6:59:14pm

It's a horrible position to put an athlete in - you either play the doping game like everyone else, or you don't make it to the world class level. At that level, the difference between 1st and 2nd place is measured in microseconds, and having a few more molecules of oxygen in your bloodstream means winning instead of losing.

Yeah, I'm disappointed in Lance. But he was playing the same game as everyone else, and he still won.

6 Dadaist  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 7:17:05pm

re: #5 Charles Johnson

Yeah, I'm disappointed in Lance. But he was playing the same game as everyone else, and he still won.

He was playing the same game in the broadest sense: If you include putting in place the best organized, best planned, best supervised and in some situations most brazen doping program as key parts of the game. Those who refused to dope lost the game immediately. Those who didn't have access to the same doping resources were almost as limited in their chances. And amongst those who did have top level dope programs, a huge amount was determined by how good a responder you were to EPO, the magic bullet of endurance sport. That varies considerably between different people.

I'm not particularly upset that Armstrong doped. Most of the top level guys in his sport in his period were doing it. I'm a bit less sanguine about the stuff in the USADA affidavits about Armstrong, the team manager and the team doctor pressuring young riders to dope.

7 Mostly sane, most of the time.  Wed, Oct 10, 2012 9:31:46pm

If soccer had been this way thirty years ago, would we have had Pele?

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