This year, another doping scandal has hit the famous cycling event, the Tour de France. Last year, the superstar Floyd Landis was disgraced when he was accused of doping with testosterone. He initially claimed to have the same problem faced by others like the notorious blogger, Dr. Urs Truly, namely, an un-naturally high level of testosterone that is considered impermissible by society.
Doping is, as all of us know, the taking of prohibited substances that can enhance performances in sports. These include blood, blood producing substance Erythropoietin, anabolic steroids, diuretics, and so many more.
The first recorded case of doping was in the eighth century BC when Ancient Greek Olympians ate Ram’s testicles (ouch!), thereby getting a fix of testosterone, presumably. Through the centuries, countless other cases took place, including the historic dethroning of Canadian Ben Johnson who won the 100m sprints in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Guilty of doping Stanazolol (an anabolic steroid), Johnson was disgraced and replaced by Carl Lewis. And let us not forget that Shane Warne, the legendary Aussie leg spinner lost one year, for doping diuretics.
Why the blog, you wonder?
Because, simply put, I think the world is wrong. I think there is nothing essentially wrong with taking performance-enhancing drugs. In a way, every athlete does try this when he eats loads of proteins and vitamins, which could enhance performance. Anyone can get stimulated by a cup of coffee, for another example. Or feel less pain with a painkiller or a shot of alcohol. There are many agents with potential adverse effects on the consumer’s health that are banned from use. Every sports agency in the world prohibits doping. And every year, great athletes test positive, get disgraced, and fade away, never to be seen or heard again.
What is essentially wrong if performance is enhanced? It may give an unfair advantage to the user, perhaps, though I am not aware of any scientifically conducted trials that prove this. It is, therefore, possible that these drugs are thought to be enhancers, but not actually so. In effect, this means that those great athletes who have been banished from the honor roll of history may not actually have committed any crime at all, beyond breaking a rule. Big effing deal!
Contrary to popular belief, drug intake may actually affect health negatively and cause weakness. Try taking a diuretic, and feel the difference! Left to themselves, once science disproves the notion that additives are of no use, athletes will not use them. Contrarily, once specific drugs are proven to be enhancers, everyone would use them.
There is, in my mind, no other moral locus standi to banning these drugs other than a cry for equal opportunity and egalitarianism, all catchwords for not allowing people to scale the heights possible to mankind. For an interesting article, look here. Look at countries that have sophisticated training centers, psychologists and sports physiologists: don’t their sportsmen do better than Indian and Bangladeshi athletes? Should we bring their preparation down to our level so that there be ‘fair’ competition? When they eat loads of meat and fruits, are the athletes not artificially pumping in iron, proteins, minerals and vitamins? Then why the hypocrisy of disallowing sportsmen from taking drugs that would (at least theoretically) take sports performances to a new level?
Do the top honchos of these Olympic Associations not take Viagra at a big night out (or in)? Why, is that not performance enhancement??
Update (26.07.07): Tour de France leader thrown out