Friday, 11 August 2006

What was he really on?

While my last blog had glowing comments about Landis, this one questions why he just doesn't own up?

The results from Sample B have confirmed that Landis was indeed shot up on synthetic testosterone during his miraculous ride to victory on Stage 17 of the Tour de France. He made all kinds of statements to the press about the unusual 11:1 ratio (physiological levels are 4:1) being due to a) the beer and whisky he drank post-Stage 16 and b) resulting from dehydration on Stage 16 and other such comments.

A cyclist friend at gym said to me on Tuesday night, "I wish he'd just own up to it and take responsibility for his actions". She's quite right.

Still, I have questions... physiologically, how can his blood tests from the previous stages show absolutely nothing and then sim-sala-bim he logs an 11:1 ratio? Testosterone has an anabolic effect - it enhances muscle development, strength and endurance. This makes me ask how a massive shot of testosterone the night or morning before he started Stage 17 could have had such a remarkable effect? Some say that testosterone wasn't actually the 'performance enhancer' but that it masked whatever gave ol' Landis the kick he needed to dominate the stage.

My final question is: how can he possibly be so stupid?

George's comments on the AR mailing list last week caused a flood of responses. He suggested that there be two racing categories: those on drugs and those not on drugs. Those doping should monitor what they're on and their stats and should submit it for the benefit of physiological research; legalised use of performance enhancers in the name of science. Not such a bad suggestion troops.

I too wear blinkers. I don't want to know that these guys are achieving excellence through artificial, not natural, means. We all just pretend that drugging is not happening but the reality is that it is and it is not about to stop. And, we're naive if we believe that the anti-doping urine and blood tests will 100% detect offenders. They haven't in the past and they don't now.

The one problem I have with this whole "legalise doping" concept is that a) athletes are going to die and b) we're saying to kids "Don't do drugs but if you get into pro cycling/running/swimming/rugby you can take whatever you want to".

The solution? I don't know. I do hope the testing becomes more stringent and more sensitive. If the stand continues to be to forbid doping, then the penalties given to offenders need to be severe. Landis' 2-year ban and TdF title removal is joke considering his offence as TdF winner! Athletes must realise that disregard for regulations will see them not only not just restricted from competition for a defined period but that they will be jobless, sponsorless and outcast.

There is no acceptable excuse or reasonable explanation.«

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