Flutterby™! : The fall of Lance Armstrong

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

The fall of Lance Armstrong

2012-10-11 21:48:29.108654+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Just because I know y'all are going to be inundating me with links about this, and I'm already seeing a whole lot about the USADA doping scandal because I live in a strong cycling area, and Levi Leipheimer is a local icon.

Levi Leipheimer in the Wall Street Journal: Why I Doped:

Having made sacrifices for my dream, several years after I turned pro, I came to see cycling for what it was: a sport where some team managers and doctors coordinated and facilitated the use of banned substances and methods by their riders. A sport where the athletes at the highest level—perhaps without exception—used banned substances. A sport where doping was so accepted that riders from different teams—who were competitors on the road—coordinated their doping to keep up with other riders doing the same thing.

I've never much "gotten" high level sports, or even professional sports, and I think this is why: Why are the athletes playing? If they're playing to win the game rather than playing for the joy of the game, then the game becomes secondary: It's about playing the meta game; sometimes that's about selective throwing, hustling, or what-have-you, and sometimes that's about circumventing both the letter and spirit of the rules. It's about being declared a winner rather than winning, and if you're playing by the rules, you're probably the only one.

So why not? Cycling is very clearly a sport that has technique components, but nutrition management overrides most of those. And once you're carefully monitoring caloric absorption and re-uptake rates, and modifying food characteristics to optimize those, the line between doping and being competitive becomes very very blurry. And, as Levi points out, if you're the one guy complaining in a field where everyone else is tacitly participating, you're the crank.

Thus: Why is anyone surprised? This is exactly what almost anyone would do in a similar situation, and it's the reason I'm happy to go out and ride 50 or 100 miles, but don't really need to take things harder than that.

BBC Sport: Lance Armstrong: Fall of a sporting hero.

... accused of not just fixing a race, or a match, or even a season. He has fixed an era.

and if you loved cycling enough to play in those leagues and were offered the chance to do so for just a little piece of your soul, who among us would know where that blurry line got dark enough to say "no, too far"?

Because none of us have heard of the people who chose to not play, though we've probably ridden with them.

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Games Health Food History Theater & Plays Monty Python Sports Fashion Pedal Power Bicycling Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2012-10-15 17:23:05.627401+00 by: Dan Lyke

Reddit user JeffreyJams: "TIL if officials awarded Lance Armstrong's 2005 Tour De France title to the next fastest finisher who has never been linked to doping, they'd have to give it to the 23rd place finisher", and the top comment there is a run-down of the top 5 finishers and their doping scandals for the other 7 years Lance Armstrong won the Tour.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-10-15 17:29:11.595073+00 by: Dan Lyke

And an interesting 2010 article about the falling power output from Tour de France riders during the climbs,