Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Doping in Sports from Someone Who's Seen It

William Gairdner is a social conservative commentator who competed as a top track-and-field athlete. In his day doping was no big deal. Some of his thoughts on Lance Armstrong.
To speak plainly, Lance never had to face the choice of doping to win against a field of innocents. Never. He had to face the choice of doping to level the playing field. He had to choose to leave behind a primary moral reality (do not cheat) and enter a world governed by a secondary moral reality (we are all cheating, so it’s okay if you do, too). So he did. In a world where there are only cheaters, there is only one morality that matters: “shut up and keep lying.” And keep snoopers from the primary world out of your secondary world. He and many others did that for a long time. He was tested endlessly and never caught. And he won.

I'm ambivalent and uncertain about the issue of drugs in sports. I think the ones we know to be dangerous should be banned for the athlete's own good. I like the talent of athletes competing on talent alone, but is a drug that enhances performance really cheating? Hmm... If everyone's doing it and everyone has access to it, maybe not.