Is Doping the Cause of Degrading Sports Integrity
Over fall break, I went to talk to my former high school English teacher to share stories about classes and hear about his daughter’s third birthday.
His classroom is painted bright blue, and magazine spreads, novel sleeves and posters adorn each wall. An avid bicyclist, he also has an apparatus in the corner to hang his racing bike.
Beneath an excerpt from “The Tyger” by William Blake painted on the wall, hangs a four-page fold-out magazine featuring Lance Armstrong next to bold type that reads “VICTORY.”
I remember the numerous allusions he would make to Armstrong about being successful and working hard, which he somehow always related back to whichever book we were reading that week.
With the release of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s report that cited the evidence it used to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from the sport, the conversation quickly turned to the use of performance enhancing drugs.
My teacher said that he thought it was over the top, and though that could be attributed to his adoration of Armstrong, cycling and the Livestrong foundation, I have to agree.
Since the evidence was released, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Honey Stinger and RadioShack have all ended their relationships with Armstrong, who also stepped down as chairman of Livestrong.
Armstrong had been retired from cycling for years before the events of this summer. The remaining question is: What message does taking away the awards and banning a man who had already finished send?
I think that USADA was trying to make an example of Armstrong. USADA wanted to show that no player is above the rules and that punishment will always follow, even if there is a delay.
However, by making a villain of the sport’s greatest hero, the USADA has only increased morale for Armstrong’s foundation, Livestrong, which saw an increase in donations in August.
The sad fact is that doping, whether it be the use of steroids, blood transfusions or another type of drug, has proliferated sports for a long time, and most fans realize this, regardless of the sport.
Science is trying to catch up with the techniques of those who choose to defy nature and equip their bodies with superhuman abilities, but a drug or method cannot be banned until the scientists know the precise composition.
That’s why it took so long to catch the violators during the steroid age of baseball; that’s why doping can never be truly eliminated unless the integrity of sports is brought into question.
The essence of sports is based on competition, and unless you take away the very nature of the game, then human beings will always try to get the upper edge – whether that be Gatorade to rehydrate during halftime or transfusing their own blood back into their bodies in the middle of a race.
Kristen Coppola is the sports editor for The Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Thursday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.