Drugs and Cycling

Earlier this morning traveling up the highway to indulge in a fried bologna sandwich at The Lunch Lady (white bread and mayonnaise, of course) I was chatting with my companion and the subject turned to performance enhancement drugs and blood doping. My concern was that Lance Armstrong had been stripped of his numerous Tour de France victories because he was accused of blood doping. From my vantage point, all of the riders were taking advantage of modern pharmacology and if Armstrong wasn’t right in there with them, then his victories were even more impressive.

My conclusion is that Lance Armstrong demonstrated he was the superior drug-enhanced cyclist and he defeated all the other blood dopers and drug users in the race. Give him back his titles and if the Tour is so much against drug usage, perform extensive tests on every cyclist in the race.

Greg LeMond had won the Tour de France three times and was fit and ready to go for the record of five victories in 1991. Yet he was unable to compete successfully against cyclists he had blown by just the year before. The next year he tried again and was left behind again; in fact, he struggled so much to keep up he actually had to take a DNF when he just couldn’t go on. It was then that he was introduced to modern performance enhancing drugs and told he would have to start taking if he wanted to continue in competitive cycling. I had met Greg when he competed in a criterion held in Freehold one year (yes, Bruce Springsteen’s Freehold) and ever since his mountain biking days I had considered him my favorite cyclist. When I learned he ended his cycling career because he refused to take drugs, he won my lifetime award for character.

This need to take performance enhancement drugs has been explored in several publications, notably Breaking the Chain: Drugs and Cycling: A True Story by Willy Voet. Recently Skeptic has considered the phenomenon in relation to Game Theory. You can read the very interesting article at eSkeptic. There are several other references to relevant books on the subject in this article making it even more valuable

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