Vroomen chimes in on Vaughters’ doping admission
There aren’t many in the cycling world who missed Jonathan Vaughters NY Times op-ed last week (“How to Get Doping Out of Sports“). Vaughters tells us what led him to decide to dope and how is guilt led him to retire early from the sport. There is some merit to his argument that in order to beat doping cycling – and other sports – need to make the decision not to dope realistic.
Gerard Vroomen gives another insider’s perspective on doping in a couple of posts earlier this week (you can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here). Vroomen is more usympathetic to other opinions I’ve seen and it is, I believe, a more real world view on what needs to happen to prevent doping in cycling and other sports.
While Vroomen agrees with Vaughters that creating an environment where riders won’t feel compelled to cheat is important he doesn’t but into Vaughters argument that athletes will only cheat if they feel they don’t have a level playing field. There will some who always will and Vaughters own admission that his decision to dope was based primarily on his ambitions to compete at the highest levels and enjoy the rewards that go along with success – fame, money etc.
Certainly anyone who has been in even reasonably close proximity to high performance sports knows that doping has been an ongoing problem for decades. And not just in cycling. When I was competing as a “weekend warrior” triathlete in the 1990’s I was certainly aware of doping in other sports.
One Olympic track athlete I knew once commented to me that they were regularly was asked by ambitious up-and-comers where they could get dope. This person didn’t know, because they had decided doping wasn’t worth it. This wasn’t taking the moral high ground either. It had as much to do with a simple calculation that the reward (even winning a gold medal) would simply not justify the risk or cost of doping.
Certainly doping was prevalent in their sport – if there was a big paycheck and fame as reward for doping they openly admitted that their decision might have been different. Vroomen readily admits he doesn’t have a ready prescriiption but he does give his opinion on some changes that would make cycling a cleaner sport. Go to his site and have a read (to his other posts as well).
He certainly has a more sophisticated view on the sport than most in the field.