Hello doping, my old friend. I’d like to say we missed you, but like that one uncle we only see around the holidays…yeah…not so much. Yet again, pro cycling finds itself indicting one of its top riders for indiscretions with prescriptions, Chris Froome hitting the old huffer-puffer a little too hard on race day. As usual, Inrng has the best, most concise summary of the case. What do we even do with this in the post-Lance era?
Like on the X-Files, we’re led to believe the truth is out there, but I have my doubts.
Exercise-induced asthma is a real thing. You’ve heard the barking cough of the just-finished winner. There is some excellent context on that from The Secret Pro, and that begs the question, “If you need drugs to keep yourself from dying while you do this, should you even be doing this?” Is it not, then, a slippery slope to justified blood doping? I’m sorry, after I have been racing full tilt for two weeks, I need to reconstitute my blood or it’s not safe for me to carry on racing.
Of course, if you exclude sufferers of exercise-induced asthma from racing, you more or less end endurance sports, so the huffer-puffers are back in, except then you have to pay attention to the legal limits, which may be arbitrary and unreasonable, but probably not. All of which arrives you back at the simple fact that Froome doped, and so he didn’t win the Vuelta, and now we have to do some more of that painful revision that puts that win in Vincenzo Nibali’s palmares. The Shark also uses an inhaler, FWIW.
It could be worse. The entire Russian winter Olympic team is DQ’d.
This week’s Group Ride isn’t that interested in whether or not Froome doped intentionally or not, although feel very free to express an opinion about that. My feeling with Team Sky is this, if one person calls you suspect, that person is cynical and doesn’t believe in dreams. If two people call you suspect, you’re probably guilty and stop wasting our time.
What I am more interested in is this: Where money is involved, is it possible to have clean endurance competition? Is it possible to have “clean” professional sports? Or, is the money, in the end, always going to corrupt proceedings? My sense is that “skill” sports like football, tennis, etc., have the cover of other factors than simple physiognomy governing success, so, for example, doing EPO isn’t going to help me serve a 140mph ace, even if it allows me to feel fresher in the 5th set. But I think all those athletes push or break the rules every bit as much as cyclists have/do. The effects of doping just aren’t as obvious. I may be that one cynic though.