Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tour de France

That Doping Thing, Again

You may not remember from this time last year, Bush, but I happen to be a big Tour de France fan. Have been since my teenage years, in the early 1950s, when the great Fausto Coppi was the Lance Armstrong of his day. So news of the doping scandal, released yesterday only hours before the start of the race, left me sad for this year's event, now bereft of most of its potential top performers: Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Alexandre Vinokurov, Joseba Beloki, Francesco Mancebo... I'll still follow the race, of course, but I'll miss the competition of those great riders.

In a way, it's no surprise. This gruelling sport--and particularly this most gruelling of all sports events, the Tour--has been plagued by rumors of doping and doping scandals for years. Lance Armstrong himself has had to fight off a campaign of not-so-quiet whispering since the days of his earliest triumph in the event. Even today, a year after his retirement, there are those who wish to unseat him from his throne: more rumors this year, and of course more denials from this cancer survivor whose performance has indeed seemed superhuman. I choose to believe him rather than his detractors, but I have to admit I have little more than choice as the basis for my belief.

Here's my take--and it may well not be a popular one: let's even out the playing field by allowing any athlete to dope up whatever he wants. Many of them will do it anyway. Those baseball heroes are turning out to have feet of... well, not even exactly good wholesome clay. If we want to make sports at least fair once again, we'll stop fussing about what these athletes put in their bodies. It may be, when they get wise to the ravages performance-enhancing drugs may cause, that they'll choose to avoid them. In any event, all will be above board and transparent. Better that, I say, than not knowing who takes what and resorting to condemnation by hearsay and rumor. Suspicion, in sports as in other fields of human activity, is far more damaging than knowledge.

You talk a good line about transparency in your own line of business, Bush. If only your actions matched your words, we would be spared the suspicion that surrounds so much of what you do. So I imagine you'll go along with me on this one: legalize all drugs in sports. Oh, and while we're at it, we might as well legalize those other drugs, too. The "war on drugs" was lost long ago. Had they been legal--and in appropriate cases available, perhaps, only on prescription--I believe many lives would have been spared, many unnecessary and costly imprisonments avoided, and many, many dollars saved.

Better, as they say, the devil you know... And, just for the record, my money is on the 26-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Valverde for the Tour. He came in fifth in today's time trial, behind Hushovd, the Norwegian; two Americans, George Hincapie and Dave Zabriskie: and Sebastian Lange, a German contender. Accuse me of unpatriotic fervor, Bush, but after seven years of American domination in the form of the indomitable Lance Armstrong, I'm hoping for a European win on the Champs-Elysees, at the end of this year's race.

4 comments:

DENN said...

"America was about a lot of things, back when it all meant something, but there was always a virus in the matrix," writes William Rivers Pitt. "George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the great thinkers put all the good ideas to paper, but they also made sure the thing was hard-wired to favor anyone with a lot of money."

Dave said...

Peter,
"Legalizing other drugs" reminds me that there is a good article in the latest Nation, by the former head of ACLU. He writes what we know in general but with good statistics: on the huge percentages of prison inmates there on possession convictions and, of course, the huge racial discrepancies, even in relation to the proportion of black and Latino users in society. The failed drug war has more than anything else created our prison society--and the gov. wants money to build more. Now, that's a solution to social problems, you bet!

DENN said...

P: Veterans for Peace has drafted a Declaration of Impeachment using nothing but excerpts from the Declaration of Independence (plus a few words in parentheses). It reads as follows, and should be read at picnics and protests on the Fourth of July:

"... whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,...

... it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government...

... The history of the present King (George)... is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations...

* He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

* He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

* He has ... deprive(ed) us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury ... transport(ed) us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

* He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us ...

* He is at this time transporting large Armies ... to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

* He has constrained our fellow Citizens ...

A (President) whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We, therefore ... do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People ... solemnly publish and declare, That these ... Free and Independent (People) ... are Absolved from all Allegiance to the (Bush Administration), and that all political connection between them and (this Administration), is and ought to be totally dissolved ...

Happy Fourth!

PK said...

Nice to know we all have the same interest in reading material:D. We need to legalize grass, sell it by the pack, in pharmacies, by a scrip from the Doc. Far as the rest of it, your right Peter, we lost the war on drugs years ago...