Thursday, March 07, 2013
Clean sport requires everyone's cooperation
Following Michael Boogerd's confession to the use of performance enhancing drugs, he faced ugly convictions in cyberspace. Whoever unloads his fury on the cyclist, may he first take a look in the mirror. The more it becomes clear that doping was widespread, the less one can talk of cheating. The fact that so many cyclists (boys in their early twenties mostly) chose to dope fuels doubt about the strength of the spine and the moral compass of people in general. There's no lack of evidence: cartels in construction, the housing bubble, and I heard that even children in the Netherlands arrive at their high-school selection test (citotoets) 'prepared'. We all (most of us) share similar weaknesses. That is not to say that Boogerd's resort to doping wasn't wrong and shouldn't be tried. Doping should be fought, for the protection of the athletes themselves from the forces that drive them toward the drug cabinet. It looks like this is slowly being recognized. Media, sponsors, fans, prize money, ranking system, salaries in the millions, cut-off of alternative career paths - they all create a virtuous circle that amplifies the separation of winners and losers. The stronger the circle, the more rotten the culture, not just in cycling. It needs to be weakened or strongly balanced. Here lies a possible contribution for everybody. If those who confess are vilified, we raise the barrier for those who've been silent, whereas as many testimonies as possible are needed. In this regard, it is disappointing that so little news seems to come from Italy and Spain, the alleged nurseries of the EPO-era.