Cycling’s worst news may be example set
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There was an article in last Sunday’s Daily Times about performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and the Tour de France, which kicked off Saturday. It asked the question had the Tour lost its luster because of drug use.
Most of the conversation about PED’s centers around steroids. Steroids certainly have important, even profound medical purposes but steroids used to enhance athletic performance are bad news.
Premature death, impotency, a wide range of medical complications and side effects — those and more are what steroids can do for you.
You don’t have to read this column often to know that I ride a bicycle. To say that I’m enamored of all things bicycle is a reasonably fair statement. I ride frequently and often long. A bicycle is just a great way to experience the beauty of East Tennessee and these mountains and valleys. On a bike, we’re slower and quieter, allowing us to see, smell, and feel our surroundings.
Too often, we focus on getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible without really appreciating how blessed we are to live here. I’m reminded every morning as I drive to work. When I turn off William Blount Drive onto Highway 321, heading toward Maryville, the view of the mountains is that constant reminder.
I even built my house high on a hill with a view of the mountains. If so inclined, I can wake up to a view that many people travel to see.
A story to tell you about me and my love of these mountains: When we built our house, the builder wanted the house to be squared to the road. I wanted it squared to Chilhowee Ridge, which would put it at an odd angle to the road. I won.
The article last week also mentioned Lance Armstrong, whose confessions to Oprah didn’t so much taint the sport as it did to reveal how widespread drug use is in cycling.
So let me burst your bubble: The use of performance enhancing drugs, or PED’s, is far, far more widespread than you could imagine. No sport, no arena, no venue is spared. Maybe the worst perpetrator out there is the NFL. College football is not far behind. But I’ve yet to find a completely clean sport. Rowing, gymnastics, basketball, track and field ... heavens, it seems like baseball has a new steroid scandal every week.
There will be those that say that the NFL can’t be that bad because, after all, players are subject to sophisticated and frequent drug testing. If the Lance Armstrong fiasco proved anything, it proved how easily drug tests could be fooled.
Before his confession (and the handwriting on the wall that preceded it), I’m the one that defended Lance Armstrong by saying that he was the most drug tested athlete in the history of sport yet had never had a single positive drug test.
Now, I’m going to be the first in line to say that even the most drug tested athlete in the history of sport can still be using PEDs and getting away with it, avoiding detection.
Am I defending cycling a little here? I don’t know. It’s still a beautiful sport. And I love football and basketball and most events where human performance is on display.
What seems a shame though is that our young folks too often believe that they must resort to PEDs in order to stay competitive. That somehow maybe it is all right because their sports heroes do it.
That’s the really bad news.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (email@example.com)