Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

If you’re a fan of baseball, which I am, the recent report from George Mitchell about steroid use is disappointing. It’s also unsurprising.  Maybe that’s because the other sport I loosely follow, professional cycling, has also been severely injured by recent drug use revelations. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig made clear in a statement that although specific ballplayers whave been singled out in the report, there’s plenty of blame to go around – owners, managers, coaches and trainers. He didn’t mention fans, of course, and most of them professed shock that their heroes had allowed themselves to be seduced by the promise of performance-enhancing drugs. They worried about the accuracy of new records, the fairness of nominations to the Baseball Hall of Fame (Roger Clemens is up for a slot) and, oh yes, the kind of example it sets for their kids. Given the problems of steroid use among young high schoole athletes, I shouldn’t wonder they’d worry. Then again, given the recent spate of stories about overly-amped up parents with an eye on athletic scholarships pushing their children to succeed at all costs, maybe it’s the kids who should worry.

Frankly, the fans need to take some responsibility here. They’re the ones forking over the dough to see professional sports. Given the cost, they want more, which is understandable: harder faster, more speed on the ball, more balls out of the park. But come on. How do they think these high-priced guys pushing  past thirty-fives deliver the goods? What do they imagine sports franchises overlook in pursuit of the electric excitement they think their ticket-holders crave?

So what’s it gonna be, fans? More of the juiced up performances we’ve come to know or perhaps something a little less frenetic? There are plenty of talented players who don’t use drugs – or at least I will continue to hope so. Let’s send a message to the owners, managers, coaches, trainers and players that we, as consumers, are unwilling to accept a tainted product.

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Crisis at the World Bank, crisis in the Middle East, ongoing crises in Africa: the news is dismal. Then there is the scandal plaguing professional cycling. I started watching the Tour de France in the early nineties but it was Lance Armstrong who really hooked me with his strength, his skill and his successful battle against cancer. We all bought the “Live Strong” bracelets in those years and we mostly discounted the rumors about artificially enhanced performance because he was our guy. But somewhere along the line money came into the picture, lots of it, what with all the endorsements, sponsorships and TV spots; then came drugs, notoriety and scandal. Now we have the disgraced 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis spinning his wheels in a courtroom mired in tales of drugs used, drug tests failed and threats made by his manager against LeMonde, whose own difficult past has come to light. Looks like cycling hit paydirt; then the mud started flying.

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