With the Tour de France currently in full swing and a host of Australian’s working hard and doing us proud. The raft of controversy that generally surrounds the tour and the legitimacy of its riders is surely not to far away.
Whenever a conversation about drugs or illegal performance enhancers in sport starts, unfortunately cycling is not to far off the top of the list of sports discussed.This possibly has something to do with the tour in 2009 being the first time since since 2005 that a rider has not tested positive to a banned substance throughout the race, a very disturbing record.
But, is that a good sign? Its a fine balance, you may say yes, the testing procedures are finally starting to stamp out the cheats, or on the other hand one of the big issues that drug testers face in sport is that the science and funding behind developing new and improved ways to illegally improve performance is far greater than the resources available to testing agencies. This lack of adequate resources leaves a large hole in the process and may allow many athletes to slip through the cracks undetected especially as the testers play catch up looking for new ways to detect the ever evolving performance enhancing methods.
Another major issue is that many performance enhancing substances such as Erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone are hormones that naturally occur in the human body. So testing is more about detecting abnormally high levels of these hormones, and those that initiate their production within the body. This may allow drug cheats room to used a banned substance and as long as they are smart enough to stay below threshold levels it is unlikely that they will get caught.
It is unfortunate that those who choose to follow the rules are disadvantaged and must work so much harder to keep in touch with those who break the rules. But if they keep at it victory would be all the sweeter knowing it was done with out illegal help.
I would like to believe that all of these extraordinary athletes stay at the top of their game through hard work, blood, sweat and tears but unfortunately in many cases we will never be 100% certain of the truth and will always have some element of doubt as to the legitimacy of the greatness some athletes have achieved.
Stay tuned for part 2 soon.
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic.