Piss and Blood

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by B. Lafferty, Jun 9, 2003.

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    From today's Guardian.

    Comment -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
    -------
    Blood on the tracks=20 Athletes will always be able to give drug testers the runaround

    Mark Lawson Saturday June 7, 2003 The Guardian

    Athletics is supposed to be all about elegance but, these days, most = stories about it come down to
    mess: piss and blood. The track = authorities have become so skilled at detecting the secrets of an
    = athlete's cheating in their urine that - the BBC reported yesterday - = runners have moved on from
    the yellow stuff to the red stuff. Some = competitors are now reportedly undergoing blood
    transfusions before a = race in order to lift their oxygen levels and raise their pace.=20

    The ingenuity of this trick - which isn't strictly illegal because the = dope-testers hadn't thought
    of it - rather encourages the view that = athletes are giving the authorities the runaround. While
    International = Olympic Committee scientists sit in Zurich arguing over which cough = mixtures to
    prohibit, the next generation of gold medallists, laughing = behind their hands, have now got this
    vampire scam going. Can we ever = trust the Olympic clock again?=20

    There's an argument - often advanced by libertarian rightwingers who = usually had a sicknote on
    sports day at school - that the solution is a = narcotics free-market in which athletes are
    permitted to swallow = whatever they want. If everyone's popping, the argument goes, we'll have = a
    level running track again.=20

    The instinctive objection to this is that no sport should authorise its = participants to risk limb
    or life in pursuit of success. But, on = examination, this complaint rapidly collapses. An
    extraordinary level of = self-damage is already regarded as acceptable in sport. Notoriously, =
    boxing is organised brain damage, with a few grudging managerial = procedures in place to protect
    the cerebral cortex. Formula one racing = is a mechanism for paralysing or slaughtering young men.
    So why - in the = context of such sponsored and televised homicide - should a runner not = be
    allowed to risk liver damage, atrophied gonads and premature senility = chasing a medal?=20

    Many professional footballers and cricketers only get through the season = with the help of
    injections of cortisone into protesting knees, backs = and ankles. These vastly increase their
    chances of being crippled in = early middle-age and yet are allowed by the authorities, who draw a =
    distinction between performance-enhancing and performance-enabling = drugs.=20

    There's an obvious hypocrisy here. Footballer A couldn't run on to the = pitch without his
    cortisone, so that's OK. Athlete B might run a bit = faster around the track because of his
    steroids, so that isn't.=20

    And where does that leave pot and coke? Are they performance-enhancing? = Probably not: most players
    would love to play against a centre-back = mellowed out on weed, or bowl to a batsman barmy on
    charlie. Are they = performance-enabling? Perhaps, for certain shy and nervous players, they = are
    and therefore, under the current rules, should be legal.=20

    In drawing distinctions between corticosteroids and other steroids - = drugs taken deliberately and
    those consumed accidentally or = "accidentally" in cold cures - sport has made a nonsense of its
    moralism = on narcotics.=20

    A more powerful case against a chemical amnesty for athletes is that the = idea of a level running
    track for all performers is always an illusion. = Even in an enhancement free-for-all, some athletes
    in some countries = would have access to better leg-up drugs than others.=20

    Nike and other sports corporations might, without censure, open labs = creating ever cleverer
    potions and procedures. Soon, the shower-room = rumours would speak of transplants, DNA-replacement,
    cyber-limbs. Within = years, the starting line of the Olympic 100 metres would look like a = still
    from The Addams Family. But because success would depend on your = surgeon or drug-pusher, this
    would not be an equal contest, just a = differently unequal one.=20

    The problem - finally - is that athletic ability and sporting = achievement are unequal and unfair.
    Some runners naturally have better = lung capacity and blood oxygenation than others, which is
    probably one = of the reasons they went into athletics rather than accountancy. Should = they be
    handicapped for this luck?=20

    There is a case for outlawing drugs from sport because competitors are = risking their health. There
    is a case for legalising drugs on the basis = that the richest and best systems will always find a
    way of tricking the = testers. Neither case, though, can be made on the grounds of fairness. = Sport
    is unfair and the only answer is to enjoy the freaks - some = natural, some unnatural - who are its
    geniuses in a mood of absolute = cynicism. Both those who run and those who watch running should
    assume = that performers have, in some way, improved the way they were made. We = can urine-test
    athletes all we want, but we'll never stop them taking = the piss out of us.=20

    Guardian Unlimited =A9 Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003 ------=_NextPart_000_000C_01C32E5F.C4E33020
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    <DIV><FONT size=3D2>From today's Guardian.</FONT></DIV>
    <DV><STRONG><FONT size=3D4></FONT></STRONG> </DIV>
    <DVI><STRONG><FONT=20 size=3D4>Comment<BR>-----------------------------------------------------=
    ---------------------------<BR> Blood=20 on the tracks <BR>Athletes will always be
    able to give drug testers the=20 runaround</FONT></STRONG></DIV>
    <DVII><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DVIII><FONT size=3D2>Mark Lawson<BR>Saturday June 7, 2003<BR>The=20 Guardian</FONT></DIV>
    <DIX><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DX><FONT size=3D2>Athletics is supposed to be all about elegance but, = these=20 days, most
    stories about it come down to mess: piss and blood. The track =

    authorities have become so skilled at detecting the secrets of an = athlete's=20 cheating in their
    urine that - the BBC reported yesterday - runners have = moved=20 on from the yellow stuff to the
    red stuff. Some competitors are now = reportedly=20 undergoing blood transfusions before a race in
    order to lift their = oxygen levels=20 and raise their pace. </FONT></DIV>
    <DXI><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXII><FONT size=3D2>The ingenuity of this trick - which isn't strictly = illegal=20 because the
    dope-testers hadn't thought of it - rather encourages the = view that=20 athletes are
    giving the authorities the runaround. While International = Olympic=20 Committee scientists
    sit in Zurich arguing over which cough mixtures to=20 prohibit, the next generation of gold
    medallists, laughing behind their = hands,=20 have now got this vampire scam going. Can we
    ever trust the Olympic = clock again?=20 </FONT></DIV>
    <DXIII><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXIV><FONT size=3D2>There's an argument - often advanced by libertarian=20 rightwingers who
    usually had a sicknote on sports day at school - that = the=20 solution is a narcotics
    free-market in which athletes are permitted to = swallow=20 whatever they want. If
    everyone's popping, the argument goes, we'll have = a level=20 running track again.
    </FONT></DIV>
    <DXV><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXVI><FONT size=3D2>The instinctive objection to this is that no sport = should=20 authorise its
    participants to risk limb or life in pursuit of success. = But, on=20 examination, this
    complaint rapidly collapses. An extraordinary level of =

    self-damage is already regarded as acceptable in sport. Notoriously, = boxing is=20 organised brain
    damage, with a few grudging managerial procedures in = place to=20 protect the cerebral cortex.
    Formula one racing is a mechanism for = paralysing or=20 slaughtering young men. So why - in the
    context of such sponsored and = televised=20 homicide - should a runner not be allowed to risk liver
    damage, = atrophied gonads=20 and premature senility chasing a medal? </FONT></DIV>
    <DXVII><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXVIII><FONT size=3D2>Many professional footballers and cricketers only = get through=20 the
    season with the help of injections of cortisone into protesting = knees, backs=20 and
    ankles. These vastly increase their chances of being crippled in = early=20 middle-age and
    yet are allowed by the authorities, who draw a = distinction=20 between
    performance-enhancing and performance-enabling drugs. = </FONT></DIV>
    <DXIX><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXX><FONT size=3D2>There's an obvious hypocrisy here. Footballer A = couldn't run=20 on to the
    pitch without his cortisone, so that's OK. Athlete B might run = a bit=20 faster around the
    track because of his steroids, so that isn't. = </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXI><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXII><FONT size=3D2>And where does that leave pot and coke? Are they=20 performance-enhancing?
    Probably not: most players would love to play = against a=20 centre-back mellowed out on
    weed, or bowl to a batsman barmy on charlie. = Are=20 they performance-enabling? Perhaps,
    for certain shy and nervous players, = they=20 are and therefore, under the current rules,
    should be legal. = </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXIII><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXIV><FONT size=3D2>In drawing distinctions between corticosteroids and = other=20 steroids -
    drugs taken deliberately and those consumed accidentally or=20 "accidentally" in cold cures
    - sport has made a nonsense of its moralism = on=20 narcotics. </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXV><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXVI><FONT size=3D2>A more powerful case against a chemical amnesty for = athletes=20 is that
    the idea of a level running track for all performers is always = an=20 illusion. Even in an
    enhancement free-for-all, some athletes in some = countries=20 would have access to better
    leg-up drugs than others. </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXVII><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXVIII><FONT size=3D2>Nike and other sports corporations might, without = censure,=20 open labs
    creating ever cleverer potions and procedures. Soon, the = shower-room=20 rumours would
    speak of transplants, DNA-replacement, cyber-limbs. Within = years,=20 the starting line of
    the Olympic 100 metres would look like a still from = The=20 Addams Family. But because
    success would depend on your surgeon or = drug-pusher,=20 this would not be an equal
    contest, just a differently unequal one.=20 </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXIX><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXX><FONT size=3D2>The problem - finally - is that athletic ability and = sporting=20
    achievement are unequal and unfair. Some runners naturally have better = lung=20 capacity
    and blood oxygenation than others, which is probably one of the = reasons=20 they went into
    athletics rather than accountancy. Should they be = handicapped for=20 this luck?
    </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXXI><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXXII><FONT size=3D2>There is a case for outlawing drugs from sport = because=20 competitors are
    risking their health. There is a case for legalising = drugs on=20 the basis that the
    richest and best systems will always find a way of = tricking=20 the testers. Neither case,
    though, can be made on the grounds of = fairness. Sport=20 is unfair and the only answer is
    to enjoy the freaks - some natural, = some=20 unnatural - who are its geniuses in a mood of
    absolute cynicism. Both = those who=20 run and those who watch running should assume that
    performers have, in = some way,=20 improved the way they were made. We can urine-test
    athletes all we want, = but=20 we'll never stop them taking the piss out of us.
    </FONT></DIV>
    <DXXXIII><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXXIV><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXXV><FONT size=3D2></FONT> </DIV>
    <DXXXVI><FONT size=3D2>Guardian Unlimited =A9 Guardian Newspapers Limited = 2003=20
    </FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

    ------=_NextPart_000_000C_01C32E5F.C4E33020--
     
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