Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beating the cheaters II

“Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.” - Robert Heinlein

This is an interesting quote, since it represents the dilemma that drug-free Ironman athletes have before racing. They know there will be cheaters starting the race, but if they don’t race, they cannot have a shot at winning or placing.

The truth of this matter is that if you toe the line to win the race, you have to prepare yourself to beat the cheaters too. In a sport where doping controls are rare and enforcement of the drafting rules is lax, when you toe the line you have to be prepared to beat all those that will suck wheel into the podium, or those that are only finishing the race because there won’t be doping control at the end.

Beating the cheaters is part of the game. We all know who they are. We know those that only finish races that don’t have doping control. We know those that mysteriously withdraw from races citing an injury, but it was really a “treatment” course that didn’t clear in time. We know the multiple Ironman winners that blatantly drafted their way into multiple victories. We know those that are walking doping wikipedias and those that join the "training group” to get a bit of the information. If you want to win, you have to go out there and beat the cheaters.

Beating the cheaters is part of the challenge. When you start a race, you’re agreeing to the unwritten rules of the race. And those say that you’ll be racing against people that will do EVERYTHING to win. This includes doping, drafting, using illegal equipment, etc. And the challenge is to beat them, not at their game but at your own game. The game of fairness and sportsmanship.

But if you want to be fair, you need to be fair all the time. This includes either delivering or shutting up. Nobody likes a sore loser and there isn’t such a thing as the drug-free or the draft-free divisions. You either put up or shut up.

1 comment:

Lorenzo Coopman said...

I do like the tone of you're article, but I'm not sure it is realistic, as a runner, 2 women "dope"records come in mind, the 10k record(1993) of Junxia Wang and the 800m record(1983!!) that is giving super talent Jelimo so much trouble to break. Can mental readiness overcome a let's say 2-10% unfair (training)advantage in otherwise equal atlethes ? a nice read : http://www.reuters.com/article/olympicsNews/idUSL1076132620080619?sp=true , maybe we should speak out more.