By: Andrew Clay
Would you trade 10 years at the end of your life for immortality? This may not be immortality in the literal sense but it is real.
Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez, the NFL in the 80s, Mark McGwire, Marion Jones, Barry Bonds (most people assume) and now Lance Armstrong have all made their decision and will be chastised for it for the rest of their lives and long after.
Performance enhancing drugs are not new to sports and neither are those who choose to indulge, but why are they crucified for it?
There is literally billions of dollars spent every year by the average man in this country, on a little blue pill, so that when the time is right he can perform with that added vigor to impress his audience. Enhancing one’s performance is crucial to survival in a world where winning, at the highest level, is glorified above all else.
Athletes are at the center of attention, scrutinized and belittled on their bad days and glorified deities on the good ones.
Think back to when Armstrong was destroying his competition and winning his record setting seven Tour de Frances after surviving testicular cancer. His charity was booming, he was starting a fashion craze and even landed cameo roles in movies (see “Dodgeball”).
He was American, but now after he admits to enhancing his performance, talk show hosts and commentators are destroying his name and legacy but why? I understand that he lied, but everybody is a liar and his lies personally affected few of the six billion and change living on planet earth.
Is it because he disgraced his sport, is a bad role model for children or because he needed to win so badly he broke the rules?
I write sports because while a certain amount of athletic deficiencies destroyed my childhood dreams of a career as a star ball player. As a writer, I am close enough to the action to get a taste of that life and, to be honest, my answer to the aforementioned question is hell yes.
The use of performance enhancing drugs is ambiguous because isn’t everything an athlete does supposed to enhance his performance.
From taking ginkgo biloba to stay sharp to pain killers so you can preform on Sunday. Look at blood doping, the PED of choice for most in the world of cycling. One stores up his/her own blood has it separated, and then when the time is appropriate adds back in the red blood cells to facilitate the carrying of more oxygen to cells of the body for a period of time.
Is it not an explicit love of competing in that one area of sports that drives a person over the edge to look for a way to win? If so, than how is that disgracing the sport?
One could also argue that the use of PEDs is the perfect example of life is not fair. Athletic pursuits teach us that life isn’t fair, not everyone is awarded for their efforts in life, because if you are not pushed to your maximum, than defeat is almost assured. You are only pushing yourself, literally, as far as the body can go before giving out in order to win, and most would have you believe that winning is all that matters.
It might also be appropriate to mention that maybe athletes should not be the go to role models of society, but that is a far bigger topic than can be covered in this article. Athletes will always be looking for the extra boost to enhance themselves and get back out onto the field, so why not change our way of thinking around and if it’s not illegal and you are a professional… enhance away.
PEDs will never go away and even Pete Rose couldn’t resist that bet.