With the latest news of Alberto Contador being stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title due to doping, I thought it was a good time to blog about “morals” in sports. I will start by saying that clearly I don’t (and never will) compete at such a level – I haven’t considered clenbuterol in prep for Lake Norman sprint. This post is filled with lots of rhetorical questions. My asking of them doesn’t mean I would do drugs to go faster. 🙂
That said, here is the question I consistently ask myself when I watch the Tour…
If you knew you would never win the TdF (or the Olympics, the World Cup, etc.) without doping because there always seems to be someone who does that will beat you, do you risk it? Do you risk it and hope to not get caught in order to experience the limelight, fame, fortune, etc that comes along with the victory? Or do you continue to finish 48th behind a long list of those who dope?
Presumably, athletes dope for a reason – it makes you stronger, faster, arguably somewhat “superhuman.” There’s a Wikipedia site dedicated to listing the athletes who have been charged of doping so clearly there’s something attractive about it! Mark McGwire, for instance, is famous for breaking the home run record in baseball. Most people, who don’t live with their head in the clouds, know the name Mark McGwire, even if they may not know exactly what he’s famous for. Had he not broke the record he’d be just another Mark who played professional baseball. But…he would likely have never broken the record, if it wasn’t for his use of steroids?!
Lance Armstrong is forever being investigated about whether he won 7 TdF titles “clean” or if he used illegal substances right along with Contador. I don’t think we will ever know the truth behind Lance – and as controversial as he is – I think the majority of people still remember him for being one of the best cyclists / athletes to ever walk this earth. But did he dope? Was it worth it if he did to be THE “Lance Armstrong”?
In my humble opinion, despite Contador now being stripped of his coveted Yellow TdF Jersey, in 1, 2, 5 years, when all the dust settles on the announcement of his doping charges, when all the 12 year old boys and girls who idolize him grow up never having heard the news of his doping charges, he will still be thought of by A LOT of people around the world as one of the greatest cyclists in the world. Do people still remember that Floyd Landis had his title stripped in 2006 or has that fallen by the wayside? They’re not stripping Contador of all of his fame or his fortune and he’ll be eligible to race again in 8 months….so was it worth it for Contador?
Would it be worth it to you?
In the shoes of the professionals and elite athletes around the world, victory at something like the TdF is the pinnacle. Given than it seems almost everyone is “doing it” these days, its starting to seem like anyone who’s actually clean stands a chance at winning….which is truly sad.
I hope the great athletes of the world, who are so influential over children and other aspiring athletes, reevaluate the choices they make. There are so few athletes that are given the opportunity to live their lives playing a sport they love, I hope they don’t continue to make a bad name for themselves.