Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
We have a lot of bicycle racing happening around here this month, and that means it’s time to talk about doping again. Yes, for those naïve enough to believe otherwise, there will be juiced-up competitors in all of the races around here this year, and we all know who we think they are.
For the record, I don’t have a problem with the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional cycling. I assume that everyone who is competitive at the elite level is using them no matter what they say, or how many times they have been tested and their urine pronounced clean as Rocky Mountain spring water or Perrier. I also assume that everyone at the elite level knows that everyone else is using them, too. It is an occupational hazard that is monitored by medical personnel with specific training or at least years of experience shooting riders up. It is a completely level racecourse. You know what I mean.
Of course PED use is a blatant disregard for the rules of the sport. But, the same could be said for holding in American football. It, too, is clearly forbidden by the rules, and yet it occurs on nearly every play of every game. Generally speaking the players who are flagged for holding are doing it blatantly, dangerously, stupidly, or both. I think the same can be said for those caught using PEDs in bicycle racing.
Be that as it may, there is not a serious football fan who thinks that this rule of the game should be vigorously enforced, just as in cycling the drug rules are so patently ignored that they are meaningless and should be forgotten all together.
Aside from game rules, though, there is the issue of legality. This is where I begin to have a problem. Steroids, human growth hormone, stimulants, etc. are illegal if used for the purposes of increasing athletic performance. Technically, a doctor could prescribe PEDs for an ostensibly legitimate purpose, but this flies in the face of medical ethics. So, the beginning of my moral dilemma with PEDs is breaking the law to use them. On the other hand, if we are going to look the other way with marijuana use, I don’t think we need to prosecute professional athletes who are trying to gain a chemically induced edge in an otherwise wholesome activity.
I don’t think the professional cyclist should be under any more legal scrutiny than a high school football player, a bodybuilder, or a pothead getting high behind the bus station. At least the professional cyclist is entertaining us, ironically inspiring us to lead healthy lives, and supporting a multibillion- (trillion- ?) dollar sports industry in the process. And speaking of buses and breaking the law, I think a RFTA bus blowing through Snowmass Canyon at 65 mph is a far greater risk to me than a skinny bike rider on steroids. But, hey: That’s just me.
But, here’s the straw that punctures the Camelbak for me: Lying. For those of you involved in high-level politics or managing hedge funds that don’t know, lying is bad. Lying hurts people. It creates suspicion, doubt, and erodes faith in humankind. Nobody should ever lie unless they are telling a kind but terrible cook that the tuna flambe is pretty good. That’s as far as it should ever go.
If you tell me straight up that you use PEDs, I’m fine. Maybe we can learn something from your experience with them. If you lie to me about it, I don’t care how many yellow jerseys you have hanging on the clothesline, you are a loser. They should adopt a saying in pro sports: If you don’t have anything truthful to say, don’t say anything at all. At the very least it would cut down the length of the traditional cliche shower known as the post-event celebration and athlete interview.
So, where am I going with this today? We have a men’s pro cycling event here on Aug. 24. I say juice up and go for it, boys. This is top-fuel formula-whatever racing! There is also a pro women’s stage race here Aug. 22-24. If the ladies can live with a slightly masculine voices and pubescent mustaches, well, so have I since high school. I’ll be out there cheering you on!
What I’m really up for ranting about is the Leadville 100, which takes place next weekend. Nobody with any balls left at all should be doping for that race. It’s a citizens race, for crying out loud. Until recently, it was the ultimate test for riders who rode solely for the love of a sore butt gained through conquering miles and miles of rough mountain terrain on their mountain bikes. Competitors tested their mettle and metal against dedicated like-minded riders past, present, and future whose passion for the sport was pure and unpaid-for.
Unfortunately, PEDs have rendered the records there meaningless and completely irrelevant to the average rider who just loves to ride hard, often and far. There are plenty of big venues for the dopers to show their stuff. They didn’t need to go and ruin a race like the Leadville 100. That was taking doping too far.
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