I’m Not Worried About Lance

by Jason Fredin

You read that right, I’m not worried about Lance Armstrong, he will be fine.

So will all the other pro cyclists who are injecting/ingesting drugs to improve performance, putting their bodies though hell, and possibly shortening their lifespans.

They know what they are doing (or at least I hope they do). They are messing with their bodies in the name of sport, in the name of money, and in the name of our entertainment.

Eric Winston recently spoke to the dangers of sport at professional levels. Although discussing the dangers of football, I think this applies to the stress put on the bodies of almost all pro athletes.

“There are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play.
I’ve already kind of come to the understanding that I probably won’t live as long, because I play this game, and that’s ok, That’s a choice I’ve made. That’s a choice that all of us has made.”

Eric Winston

We have an arms race occurring in elite athletics. Every time the testing gets more sophisticated, the performance enhancements change to evade that test. Is testing possibly pushing athletes towards riskier and more unknown doping protocols?

All of this aside, they have some of the best doctors and scientists waging this arms war. What scares me is the high-school kid that tries to replicate this by himself, or with the advice they can find online.

What follows is a true story, hand to my heart, I swear.

We were in a local Shoppers Drug Mart a while ago picking up a prescription and a young male in his late teens approached the counter and asked the pharmacist for a “needle”. At this point I was curious, but the pharmacist sounded unfazed and quickly shot back “what gauge?” Dumbfounded the youth took a second and replied “one to inject myself, I don’t know, I got this stuff online”. After that the conversation turned to how they can’t sell items like those without a prescription (to my best recollection I was still reeling from the thought of injecting something that you bought without a prescription online).

I couldn’t believe this kid. What the hell was he thinking?

Then I realized that there are kids out there that see the reports of how much of an advantage performance enhancing drugs are, and the thought that they were the key to make their high-school team, get scouted by a college and maybe make it to the big time if everything works out right.

There are two problems, first is the media’s and sport’s treatment of illegal performance enhancers, like a magic potion that can make you twice as fast, or twice the strength. Truth is that you still need to put the work in. Many forms of doping don’t let you train less, their purpose is actually to allow you to train more or harder. Recovery is a major limiting factor in training, especially in endurance sports like running or cycling.

Second problem is the self medicating that occurs. Without a knowledgeable doctor who can run tests and monitor progress, all this is just taking a stab in the dark. Hey 100mg worked well last week, 200mg must be twice as good, right?

None of these problems have easy answers, but we need to try to find a way to keep everybody as healthy as possible while still competing on a level playing field in the sports they love.

The only way I can see doing this is through stricter enforcement and greater penalties for cheating.