Finally. After years of allegations, it seems that Lance Armstrong has finally admitted to the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). This comes as no surprise, as the evidence against Armstrong was widespread and substantial. Testimonies from former cyclists and ‘friends’ of Armstrong further substantiated the belief that Armstrong was in fact a drug cheat. Armstrong spent his life trying to reach the summit of a sport, that was undoubtedly flooded with drugs, and he can no longer hide behind his coveted yellow jerseys. The emperor has lost his clothes.
Performance-enhancing drugs have also left a black mark in the history of baseball. In a sport that lives and dies by it’s statistics, a monumental decision was taken this week. The Baseball Writer’s Association of America selected no new entries to the Hall of Fame. Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are three extremely-talented baseball players that broke records throughout their respective careers. However, big names garner bigger controversy and a cloud regarding PED’s hangs over their heads.The likelihood (or probability) is that the trio were involved in performance-enhancing drugs throughout their career, thus leaving a bad taste in voters’ mouths throughout America. This Hall of Fame shut-out has sent ripples throughout the sports world and I feel soccer and other major sports can learn a lot from this stand.
The question is; in today’s world is it possible for athletes to excel without uncertainty over PED’s lingering over their achievements? Usain Bolt,. Lionel Messi, even Barry Bonds. Will all record-breaking athletes be subject to media scrutiny and uncertainty due to ineffective drug-testing policies and sanctions? It is the minority amongst us that have threatened the legitimacy of future record-breakers.The Hall of Fame shunning sends out the right message. What once would’ve sounded absurd but is now true, is the fact that other sports can copy baseball and cycling by employing a tougher stance on drugs.
Some will disagree with my opinion of cycling finally employing a tough stance on drugs, but compare it to soccer for a second. If, for example, Ryan Giggs (hypothetically speaking) was somehow using PEDs for the last few years to prolong his career. Would the governing bodies in football strip him of his Premiership and Champions League medals, and even his British SPOTY? I don’t believe so. The stripping of Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles is a decision that I entirely back and maybe a procedure FIFA should begin to look at. What good is fining/suspending a player when it is their accomplishments that they value most? Preventing a player from playing will hurt the him/her to a certain extent, but meaningless fines are just a drop in the ocean to the breed of nouveau riche footballers that are ever-present in today’s sporting world. The only way to truly hurt a sports-person is to take the one thing that they have worked for all of their life; their success.
There is no room for PEDs in sport. Period.
SPORT IS EVERYTHING. Richard Barrett