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Lance Armstrong/Steroid Use Admittance
Posted: 17 January 2013 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Has anyone been following this?

What do you think about it? The nature of celebrity, and the apparent phoniness of professional sports?

I don’t care about Bicycle racing or Armstrong. My view is that it’s not surprising at all; most pro - athletes probably use steroids, and I don’t see a problem with that - sports are a spectacle for non-participants, after all. The masses want to see this stuff regardless of bullcrap ethical considerations, and the players are very willing…. so why criticize?

Armstrong’s image, as an unlikely guy who beat cancer and used his dedication to get to the top of his sport is totally trashed now, but does that matter to the public at large?

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Posted: 17 January 2013 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yeah, I don’t think the fact that he used steroids is all that surprising. What is extraordinary is his behaviour. Probably a psychopath. Should make for a great movie.

[ Edited: 17 January 2013 06:49 AM by George ]
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Posted: 17 January 2013 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The thing you need to consider is the affect this has on competitors from professionals down to middle school kids who want to compete fairly. If we don’t prosecute or strip awards from competitors who use steroids it puts a lot of pressure on those who would otherwise prefer to compete fairly. Even if you don’t care about the professional adults who can if they wish turn to another profession you should care about the trickle down affect to children. There have been many documented cases of high school kids getting involved in this stuff and even some kids as young as middle school.

As long as society goes after this stuff and strips violators of their awards and accolades others will think twice about pursuing this path. We need to do everything possible to embarrass, punish, and if necessary, humiliate those who cheat so that we can protect those who are young and impressionable even if we can’t root out every individual who is doing this.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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One other thing. I don’t believe this is “Bullcrap ethical considerations”. In order for a sporting event to be interesting the players have to be on an even playing field. If you let some of them secretly use performance enhancing drugs why not take it a step further and allow them to play dirty. We could look the other way if a football player carries a shiv on the field and uses it occasionally. Maybe we should let players bug each other’s locker rooms to get inside info on plays. Where does it end? I don’t think this is the main issue but it says something about a society when they have an anything goes attitude toward their sporting events. Even though some might like that we as a society should not allow it.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ve only vaguely following this over the years (decades?), somehow I always gave Lance the benefit of doubt.
I agree sports is a racket, but I also appreciate MacGyver’s comments.

Although at this point I gotta admit my thoughts have been about what it’s like to fabricate, sustain and live that sort of lie.
And now the big crash.
That’s the nice thing about not being obsessed with getting to the top,
gives us a much better chance to get through with our integrity and dignity somewhat intact.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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macgyver - 17 January 2013 07:12 AM

One other thing. I don’t believe this is “Bullcrap ethical considerations”. In order for a sporting event to be interesting the players have to be on an even playing field.

Define ‘even playing field.’

Someone who has better nutrition has a fairly universal advantage.
Someone who lives at a higher altitidue has advantages in most sports.
Someone who gets better training has an advantage.
Someone who takes drug supplements like some steroids has an advantage.
Someone who has an unusually good gene has an advantage.
Someone who has better equipment has an advantage.

I have come to the conclusion that this concept of ‘even playing field’ is fundamentally flawed. Originally, restrictions on drug use in sports were not specifically to create this ‘even playing field’ but to protect the health and lives of the athletes, to discourage someone from taking cocaine for a boxing match (for example) which can have nasty effects.

That said, Armstrong knew the rules and agreed to them publicly before breaking them. He gets what he deserves. But eventually, a high-profile athlete will come along and juice up without risk to his health, and call ‘bullshit’ on many of the drug prohibitions in sports.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 17 January 2013 01:01 PM

Define ‘even playing field.’

Someone who has better nutrition has a fairly universal advantage.
Someone who lives at a higher altitidue has advantages in most sports.
Someone who gets better training has an advantage.
Someone who takes drug supplements like some steroids has an advantage.
Someone who has an unusually good gene has an advantage.
Someone who has better equipment has an advantage.

Obviously all things are never going to be completely equal. There wouldn’t be much of a competition if two competitors were exactly even in every respect. Every match would be a draw. In a perfect world the only differences would be those that are either beyond the control of the individual ( ie. genetics) or those that are available to all competitors, and for reasons outlined above, are considered to be non-harmful to the health of the individual ( or to those who would try to emulate them).

As you have outlined, some people will have easier access to better training or better equipment. We can’t completely level the playing field. Nutrition is not really an issue since the difference between the foods available to an elite athlete and those available to the rest of the population of the developed world really make no significant difference. Sports drinks and special diets are basically overhyped garbage. Pockets of poverty aside, anyone with a modest income in the developed world can avail themselves of a healthy diet that would be equally effective. How many NBA players do you think grew up on specially designed diets?

I think performance enhancing drugs are something entirely different though since they have no redeeming value and are potentially very harmful. Allowing them would ultimately result their default requirement for anyone who wanted to be competitive in sports and I don’t think we want to see that happen. It doesn’t really matter what some athlete thinks or says. The assertion that he or she didn’t suffer any side effects from using these drugs is premature until many years a have gone by and even then we are not saying every individual will be harmed by these drugs. We are simply saying the risk outweighs the benefits and therefor they should be illegal.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Allowing them would ultimately result their default requirement for anyone who wanted to be competitive in sports and I don’t think we want to see that happen.

I think this is a particularly compelling point. If our goal is simply to see people exhibit the maximum performance they can force out of their bodies, and if we want winning to be not just a goal but the only goal, then a no-rules approach to sport would be appropriate (anybody old enough to remember Rollerball? grin

However, amateur sport at all levels serves a lot of other purposes- fun for participants as well as spectators, fitness, a chance for young people to experience physical and mental challanges and goal-setting and learn how to handle them, and so on. All of these goals seem likley to be harmed by the widespread acceptance that performance-enhancing drugs are acceptable and appropriate regardless of the harm they do. It we become essentially pointless to compete at an advanced level unless you were willing to take the drugs, and associated risks, and it would be a clear message to amateurs that the main focus of sport is winning and the rest doesn’t really matter.

We shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. No, we can’t “level the plaing field” in every way. But it is possible, and probably serves a useful purpose, to level it in terms of prohibiting such drug use.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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macgyver - 17 January 2013 01:26 PM

I think performance enhancing drugs are something entirely different though since they have no redeeming value and are potentially very harmful. Allowing them would ultimately result their default requirement for anyone who wanted to be competitive in sports and I don’t think we want to see that happen. It doesn’t really matter what some athlete thinks or says. The assertion that he or she didn’t suffer any side effects from using these drugs is premature until many years a have gone by and even then we are not saying every individual will be harmed by these drugs. We are simply saying the risk outweighs the benefits and therefor they should be illegal.

Aspirin is allowed. Caffeine is allowed. Those are performance-enhancing drugs. I’m not saying at all to allow potentially harmful drugs. I’m saying to allow all non-harmful drugs, not just those we’ve had for hundreds of years.

Speaking of which, nicotine injested through tobacco is most definitely harmful, and potentially performance-enhancing under the right circumstances, yet it’s still allowed.

[ Edited: 17 January 2013 01:56 PM by TromboneAndrew ]
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Posted: 17 January 2013 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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mckenzievmd - 17 January 2013 01:47 PM

Allowing them would ultimately result their default requirement for anyone who wanted to be competitive in sports and I don’t think we want to see that happen.

I think this is a particularly compelling point. If our goal is simply to see people exhibit the maximum performance they can force out of their bodies, and if we want winning to be not just a goal but the only goal, then a no-rules approach to sport would be appropriate (anybody old enough to remember Rollerball? grin

However, amateur sport at all levels serves a lot of other purposes- fun for participants as well as spectators, fitness, a chance for young people to experience physical and mental challanges and goal-setting and learn how to handle them, and so on. All of these goals seem likley to be harmed by the widespread acceptance that performance-enhancing drugs are acceptable and appropriate regardless of the harm they do. It we become essentially pointless to compete at an advanced level unless you were willing to take the drugs, and associated risks, and it would be a clear message to amateurs that the main focus of sport is winning and the rest doesn’t really matter.

Another argument that doesn’t work. First of all, we’re not talking about amateurs. We’re talking about professionals who compete to entertain the masses. I don’t see amateurs giving up on playing basketball for fun, despite the requirement that to get good at professional basketball requires many thousands of hours of practice and no small amount of sheer natural athleticism. It is pointless to compete at an advanced level without those thousands of hours in the same way that it would be pointless to compete at an advanced level without drug use if it were allowed.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 17 January 2013 01:49 PM
macgyver - 17 January 2013 01:26 PM

I think performance enhancing drugs are something entirely different though since they have no redeeming value and are potentially very harmful. Allowing them would ultimately result their default requirement for anyone who wanted to be competitive in sports and I don’t think we want to see that happen. It doesn’t really matter what some athlete thinks or says. The assertion that he or she didn’t suffer any side effects from using these drugs is premature until many years a have gone by and even then we are not saying every individual will be harmed by these drugs. We are simply saying the risk outweighs the benefits and therefor they should be illegal.

Aspirin is allowed. Caffeine is allowed. Those are performance-enhancing drugs. I’m not saying at all to allow potentially harmful drugs. I’m saying to allow all non-harmful drugs, not just those we’ve had for hundreds of years.

Speaking of which, nicotine injested through tobacco is most definitely harmful, and potentially performance-enhancing under the right circumstances, yet it’s still allowed.

I’ll agree that in some respects the line we draw between what we find acceptable and what is not is somewhat arbitrary. No definition is going to be without its blurred lines. You could make the argument that to be completely fair no drugs should be allowed at al since any drug that improves the human condition will indirectly improve performance.  Aspirin is only a performance enhancing drug in the sense that it can relieve pain that might inhibit performance. You could say the same things about antibiotics provided to an athlete with w foot infection or surgery to remove an inflamed appendix. Do we really want to deprive our athletes of all the treatments that allow us to enjoy normal healthy lives?

just because the line may be blurry doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one. There are some drugs which clearly serve no purpose at all except to enhance performance and which carry with them significant risk. Those drugs should be banned and we should take whatever measures we need to in order to create a good if not perfect line to clarify what is acceptable and what is not.

Its also very naive to separate professional sports from amateur sports as though the two are not a continuum. Anything that is allowed in professional sports will be emulated by younger athletes as they progress through the amateur ranks. It is impossible to prevent that from happening. Its also wrong to force the majority of athletes who would not otherwise use drugs to do so if they want to compete.

Additionally, I would question the efficacy of either caffeine or nicotine as a performance enhancing drug

[ Edited: 17 January 2013 02:18 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 17 January 2013 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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macgyver - 17 January 2013 02:15 PM

just because the line may be blurry doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one.

I didn’t say that - the line should be where the drugs are harmful. Not where they provide some kind of advantage.

Its also very naive to separate professional sports from amateur sports as though the two are not a continuum. Anything that is allowed in professional sports will be emulated by younger athletes as they progress through the amateur ranks. It is impossible to prevent that from happening. Its also wrong to force the majority of athletes who would not otherwise use drugs to do so if they want to compete.

Of course, it is very important for emulating young athletes to not adopt bad habits. I have no problem with that. It’s just that ‘using drugs’ in of itself should not be considered a bad habit; bad habits are harmful, and using *harmful* drugs should be shunned.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I think i see where the problem is here. You need to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a harmless drug. All drugs are biologically active and there is no such thing as a drug that causes no problems in anyone unless its a placebo ( and even those cause side effects).

Most drugs cause side effects in only a small number of people. When you are treating or trying to prevent a potentially harmful condition you can do a risk benefit analysis to determine if a drug is worthwhile using or not. in the case of performance enhancement you are not treating an illness. From a medical standpoint there is no benefit so the risk benefit analysis will always say the drug should not be used even if the risk is small. Its also difficult to get a god risk assessment because the lack of a disease makes it somewhat unethical to do controlled trials on these drugs since the only possible outcomes are either harm or no benefit.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 06:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Has anyone been following this?

I might if I was inclined to confuse professional athletes for people of importance.

I’m not so inclined.

With the economy the as shaky as it is and the morons in Congress playing games of brinksmanship with the budget, there are vastly more important matters to be concerned with.

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Posted: 18 January 2013 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Lemme take this in another direction… this idea that there are these sports heros who we should all look up to and admire is pretty much a myth. But we as a culture still seem to always be looking for a singular hero nonetheless. Does anyone think this might be because our culture, like it or not, is very Judeo-Christian, where the idea of a singular “savior” is a central idea.  Do other cultures that don’t have “savior” based religions underpinning them still have this silly hero worship in sports?  I don’t know enough about other cultures but it’s just a hunch that they wouldn’t.

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Posted: 18 January 2013 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Another argument that doesn’t work. First of all, we’re not talking about amateurs. We’re talking about professionals who compete to entertain the masses. I don’t see amateurs giving up on playing basketball for fun, despite the requirement that to get good at professional basketball requires many thousands of hours of practice and no small amount of sheer natural athleticism. It is pointless to compete at an advanced level without those thousands of hours in the same way that it would be pointless to compete at an advanced level without drug use if it were allowed.

[/qoute]
I think you missed my point. If it becomes acceptable for professional athletes to penly take harmful drugs in order to compete more effectively, and it then becomes essentially impossible to be competitive at that level without doing so, this semds a strong message to aspiring young people interested in sports or the possibility of become elite athletes. That message is that if you want to get that level of performance, and the respect and financial rewards that go with it, you have to be willing to do what the big boys do to get there. I think you would see a lot more high-school and college athletes taking these drugs if the sanctions against them at the professional level were lifted because it would be clear that such drug use is accepted and expected for serious competitors.

I also think the comparison of thousands of hours of practice and drug use is a false one. The former is necessary for quality performance in any activity and is generally good for your health if done properly. The later is not necessary and is often injurious.

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