Thursday, July 26, 2007

All the cheaters...

Are nothing more than asshats.

Sport is chaos without rules. Everyone knows that, it doesn't need elaboration. If you're going to be a professional athlete, you'd better be prepared to submit to the rules of your team and whatever sanctioning body enforces rules.

It seems that all professional sports have their cheaters. Pro baseball has steroid abusers. Technically for years, steroids were not verboten in baseball, but should those who have been implicated in steroid scandals be included in record books? For decades, the holder for most home runs was Babe Ruth. This man did it all not only without drugs, but half drunk and obese as hell. His feat was remarkable. Hank Aaron overtook Ruth with hard work and sacrifice. Now we have an implicated steroid abuser about to take over the all time home run record. Bonds has not used his natural talents to achieve this feat and should not be recognized.

Michael Vick is an exceptional athlete but he's proving that he's not so smart. Today he's being arraigned on dog fighting charges. As far as I'm concerned, this is associated with the thug culture that is ruining much of American professional sports. Many athletes think they need to prove how 'cool' or 'tough' they are off the field or court and have adopted this thug culture to achieve their goal.

Professional golf isn't even immune to accusations of steroid abuse. Seve Ballesteros, a leading golfer from the 1970's to the 1990's, has accused top contenders in the PGA tour of using steroids in order to compete at the highest level.

Now to cycling, one of my favorite sports. July is the month for the pinnacle event in pro cycling, The Tour de France. Cycling has had a history of doping cyclists since the late 1970's. Sanctioning bodies, teams and individual cyclists have fought to clean up the sport for years. The Tour has led and continues to lead the fight against doping and drug abuse. This year should have been the year for a drug free Tour. Riders are subject to the most stringent drug testing in all of sport. The fear of getting caught should be enough to dissuade riders from doping or drugging up. Not everyone is so smart...

Alexandre Vinokourov was found to have doped his blood. How stupid is that? Put someone else's blood, packed with oxygen carrying cells in your body and expect to get away with it. You're not going to.

Michael Rasmussen was dismissed not for failing a drug test, but for lying about his where-abouts a few weeks before the Tour. This falls into the area of just following the rules. I'm not convinced so much that he's doping or using performance enhancing drugs, but what should we believe when he lies about his whereabouts weeks before the Tour. Supposedly in Mexico visiting his wife's family, Rasmussen was seen in the mountains of Italy and unavailable for testing. Blame isn't on the sanctioning body for the strictness of the tests, but on the rider who makes himself unavailable and lies about the reason.

My faith hasn't been shaken in cycling. I agree with Phil Ligget, commentator on the US cable channel Versus, with his assessment that this should not be the darkest days for the Tour, rather the brightest. I'm encouraged that a team has no problem at all removing a cheater who was wearing Yellow. I'm encouraged that the Tour has no problem removing one of the biggest names and pre-race favorites (and his team) from the race. I'm encouraged that cyclists right and left are speaking out as well as silently protesting the drug abuse that is dominating the news of the Tour. I have faith that the sport of cycling can clean itself up. I'm still a fan and will continue to be. Eventually, riders will learn that there is no way they can dope and get away with it. The punishments will be too great for them to push the system.

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