I was not going to write anything on this subject, but I’m hearing too many statements that I disagree with so I need to speak up. Here are my thoughts.
Everyone was doing it so it was a level playing field.
Not everyone was doing it. The guys that didn’t want to compromise their ethics were the ones not doing it. They probably didn’t make the cut. All the riders that doped cite wanting to make the cut as their reason for deciding to cross that ethical line. There are many talented athletes that didn’t dope and were robbed of a successful career. They are the silent victims.
The “everyone was doing it/level playing field argument” is a myth.
The riders coming forward and admitting their guilt are courageous.
Yes, there is something to be said about coming forward and admitting what happened. These actions will play a role in the re-birth of the sport. But, the true reason there has been this mass confession is that the USADA backed the riders into a corner. Their choice became to either tell the truth or perjure themselves and potentially spend time in jail.
As a friend of mine said, the truly courageous riders were the ones such as Gilles Delions, Christophe Bassons and others who spoke out against doping when it was so widely accepted in the peloton. And dare I say even the riders who decided not to dope and accepted a lesser career because of it. (Delions brought his concerns about EPO use to the UCI in the early ’90s and, like others that followed later, was shunted aside.)
Why should we even care about this?
A friend of mine asked me this question. His young son is playing baseball now, and is very good. My answer was simple: when your son wants to play in the major leagues, he shouldn’t have to decide whether or not he will take drugs. It is as simple as that. No one should be placed in a situation in which he or she has to make a decision about doping.
Cheating is all around us: the financial crisis, corruption in the government and business, and sports. One person cheating forces others to do so as well. We cannot tolerate it anywhere.
In sport, there should be no room for cheaters. If you cheat, your career is over, no second chances, no redemption. You can do something else with your life rather than compromise the dreams of your fellow competitors. It is also up to the fans to make it happen; they are the ones that will ultimately change the sport.