This blog post has been a long time in writing. I first started writing a ranty little burst of words after a Twitter dispute with Australian sports journalist Debbie Spillane. She was commenting on a tennis match in the US Open. Here is what started it.
@debspillane and they say cyclist are the only dopers!
— norbs (@norbs) September 11, 2012
@norbs not with you there. Think you’re sounding like a bitter cycling fan.
— DebbieSpillane (@DebSpillane) September 11, 2012
@debspillane I didn’t expect you to agree. It isn’t normal though.
— norbs (@norbs) September 11, 2012
I then replied to her with this link…
To her credit, she retweeted it to her followers.
After a few minutes with my mouse hovering over the “Publish” button in WordPress, I thought better of it and saved it as a draft. As I said, it was a ranty, nasty little bunch of sentences that would have served no purpose other than making me feel a little better for a few minutes until I cooled off. It was one time when the mature, considered side of my brain won out over the testosterone fueled, arsehole side of my brain. A minor miracle.
Since then, we cycling fans have been subjected to the USADA reasoned decision and, as a consequence, the fall of the Yellow Curtain. Cycling has taken a kicking. Time and time again I have been in discussion with fans of other sports trying to justify my love of this so called joke of a sport. It has been hard work. Often I have wanted to fire off Tweets or emails laced with my own unique brand of diplomacy. Diplomacy laced with F bombs and other school yard taunts. For once, I have resisted the urge.
Now though, it is time for a few pointers to those that keeping pointing to cycling as morally corrupt sport in the greater sporting world. Over the past few weeks, there have been a handful of stories emerge that make it look like cycling isn’t the black sheep of the sporting family. Cycling it seems has quite a few siblings.
Let us wade through the ever deepening pool of dirty sports.
May as well start with tennis. The best place to look is the link above. There is a hell of a lot of information on that site, but the juicy stuff is in the Recommended Reading section.
Really, it seems very straight forward to me. When you have the top mens players serving at 200kph for hours on end, with no apparent drop in speed, something isn’t normal. Seeing guys getting around the court like their backside is on fire after a 5 hour game. Or play an epic, and then are back out there again the next day, as fresh as a daisy. Again, you have to ask questions.
Here is a nice little set of numbers. “Blood tests accounted for between three and six percent of all tests in tennis in 2011, compared to 35 percent in cycling and 17.6 percent in athletics.” This article is also worth a read. http://uk.reuters.com/
Ok, so lets take a look at football, or soccer, depending on where you live. Performance Enhancing Drugs aside, this little story popped up the other day. An estimated 680 games have been fixed, it has been alleged.
“The European Union’s police agency said an 18-month review found 380 suspicious matches in Europe and another 300 questionable games outside the continent, mainly in Africa, Asia and South and Central America. It also found evidence that a Singapore-based crime syndicate was involved in some of the match-fixing.” More about that here.
So, match fixing. And if it isn’t enough that you have guys diving like they have been hit in the shin by a weapon of mass destruction. They are also doping!
There is an excellent article at inring.com that talks about doping in football. Check it out here.
Not a good look for the world game. Given the fact that Eufemiano Fuentes, the controversial doctor at the heart of the “Operación Puerto”, has been tied to footballers as well as cyclist and tennis players, you’d have to be deluded to think football is a clean sport.
Closer to home, just popping up today is the story of an AFL that may end up in hot water. The article, in the very early stages of it breaking, can be found here. Supplements hey? This will be an interesting one to watch.
Even the worlds fastest man isn’t fast enough to escape questioning. When Carl Lewis is asking questions, you have to wonder. I have no idea when it comes to athletics, but the numbers quoted do make you scratch your chin. (Thanks to JournalVelo for the link)
I had quite a few links to look at in regards American sports. Baseball, basketball and NFL. Then I was alerted to an article by Bill Simmons that did a better job than I ever could of taking apart American sports and PED usage. This truly is a remarkable piece of writing. Check it out at www.grantland.com.
Here is just a small extract, but it shows just how ridiculous testing in basketball is…
“NBA players get tested up to four times during the course of a season. The fourth time can happen at any point from October to June, but once it happens, that’s it. So if your fourth test occurs after your 71st game, you’re clear the rest of the way. It’s a running joke within NBA circles, something of a get-out-of-jail-free card: Once you pee in that fourth cup, you’re good to go. Put whatever you want into your body. Feel like smoking enough weed to make Harold and Kumar blush? Knock yourself out. Feel like replacing your blood with cleaner blood so you have more endurance for the playoffs? Knock yourself out. Feel like starting a testosterone cycle because you might have to play 25 grueling playoff games over the next 10 weeks? Knock yourself out. Remember how competitive these guys are. What would they do for an edge? How far would they go? And why are we giving them the choice?” – Bill Simmons.
Having been convinced to watch a NFL game a few weeks back, I was stunned to hear stats about guys way heavier than myself, doing sub 11 second 100m times. I asked a few NFL fans at the time about the drug testing business. It was mentioned if a player tested positive they received a 4 week ban and no pay! Surely, this had to be wrong.
I dug this up.
PENALTIES — NFL
First: A four game suspension without pay.
Second incident: Eight game suspension, no salary.
Third: One year suspension, no pay.
Sweet quarter back in a dress! It is all spelled out on this page. www.csnbayarea.com/blog/biz-ball/sports-drug-testing-policies-nfl-nba-nhl-olympics.
So dear cycling fan, I hope that next time a fan of another sport tells you cycling is a sport full of cheats, you may be able to point them to a link in this post, or this actual post and let them know that cheating by doping isn’t just limited to cycling. It seems to be everywhere. If you want to trawl through a pretty comprehensive list of sports dopers, not just PED users, but all banned drugs, check out this Wiki entry. (Thanks Toby Forage for the link)
If you have links to stories that you think are relevant, please put them in the comments below.
I will let Jim Courier have the final word.
“Let’s face it, if you’re 100 in the world and you think that something illegal will get you to 10 in the world, that’s a tremendous difference in the quality of the rest of your life from a financial standpoint.”