Forum home Road cycling forum Pro race

Morality of blood doping

OllyBianchiOllyBianchi Posts: 89
edited November 2007 in Pro race
I'd like to play devil's advocate for a bit and raise some issues around the moral and logical basis for the ban on re-transfusing ones' own blood.

Why is manipulating your own red blood cell count in this way morally wrong while using an oxygen tent isn't? In fact, just riding your bike increases your red blood cell count about that of a non-cyclist. Why shouldn't an athlete be able to use any non-chemical means to increase the performance of his body?

What is the logical difference between using a series of techniques to boost your blood and using a diet plan to change the muscle to fat ratio in your body? Or spending all day pushing weights to get bigger muscles?

No athlete - in face none of us on this board - have a totally natural body. We have artificially optimised our bodies for riding a bike by training. Why should one method of doing this be morally wrong when others are fine?

I'm not advocating a free for all in racing, I want to see clean racing and results I can trust, and I don't want blood doping in my sport. But it's something I've been thinking about for a while and thought it may be interesting to other to have a bit of a think about it on a Wednesday morning.
«1

Posts

  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Altitude tents are banned in Italy. But they encourage a natural response in your body that takes week to happen. If someone wants to camp in an airight tent at home with a loud pump whirring away, good luck to them. Similarly, if you want to live in a hotel in a windy, cold and empty ski-resort for a month to get the benefits, good luck. That's dedication.

    As for blood doping, it can involve making your blood unnaturally thick, and it's dangerous. It has to be stored properly. And it's not natural, it's manipulation.

    Besides, you take out a racing licence and promise not to break the rules. Doping isn't about morality.
  • If the UCI were as hot on doping as they were on saddle position or bike weight or regulation 59b Section A, appendix H then we'd be better off. Still, there isn't a problem according to Cheif Wiggum...erm, I mean Pat McQuaid.
  • :D:D
    Dan
  • Blood doping is a very effective way to boost performance, so why not let riders take their haemocrit level up to 60%, or 65% or 70%, with heart attacks and blood clots being controlled through yet more drugs? Here are four reasons to be going on with. (And "Because it's 'cheating' " isn't one of them...).

    1) It is dangerous to the riders health and it's effectiveness means that those who don't want to dope are forced to risk their health or give up an idea of being competitive.

    2) Being prepared to support a 'sport' where such behaviour is the norm degrades the spectator as much as the competitor. The following quote illustrates what I mean by this very well.
    WADA is the logical response to an argument that gets aired from time to time: that since cheating is impossible to eliminate, the only recourse is to simply legalize everything- that way, no athlete has a hidden advantage over another, since everyone would be free to try anything that might increase endurance.

    Like a lot of powerfully bad ideas, that one has a certain mad logic. But it would turn every sport into a test of how much damage an athlete was willing to risk to improve performance, and would basically force every serious athlete to cheat and risk his or her health. Athletic contests would have a strange life-or-death quality. If we don't keep drugs out of these events, they become freak shows, the athletes like gladiators- with us playing the role of decadent Romans, urging them on.
    http://outside.away.com/outside/bodywor ... st_10.html

    3) Such methods mean that the riders performances are not 'real' and due to the varying effectiveness of such methods the results themselves become meaningless. Who has the most 'natural talent', or will or whatever becomes a very secondary issue with the rider who wins being the one who is prepared to push the limits of doping the furthest or whose body has a physiology which responds best to the current 'state of the art' doping techniques. In turn what should be a showcase of human endeavour becomes mere sports entertainment, akin to American Pro Wrestling. ('Le syndrome du catch' as it was termed in a major article on doping in the Tour in Le Monde of 27/07/07).

    4) The 'artificial' nature of the performances produced via doping also creates a 'fatal distance' between the riders and the spectators, a point which appears to be more understood from a French perspective than a Anglo-Saxon one. For example, the French philosopher Robert Redeker in his book 'Le Sport Contre Les Peuples' (Sport against the people) has argued that riders such as Armstrong, Indurain, Virenque and Ullrich have been transformed into fabricated 'Cyber heroes', akin to Lara Croft, 'virtual human beings' with whom the man at the side of the road can no longer feel the sort of intimate association they could with riders such as Robic or Coppi, especially in times when the spectator could see the hardships, misfortunes and toil of the riders as reflections of their own lives.
  • You know, that's exactly what I'd have said, if I was able to put my thoughts together coherently. Excellent.
  • Well that's the kind of perceptive and well-argued reply I was hoping for.

    That's a really interesting point about the gap between spectators and their heroes. I wonder if this distance is affected by the changing standards of living in the western world? Coppi and Robic lived and raced nearly 50 years ago when the lives of the spectators were very much different - there's not much hardship, misfortune and toil in modern life. Perhaps turning athletes into fabricated cyber heroes is a reaction to the artificial nature of modern life - part of a process into which both athletes and spectators are sucked.
    Must be a pHd in there somewhere...
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    It's true that doping has changed. I think many fans could relate to the amphetamines and painkillers taken by riders last century. Shift workers and truck drivers would take such things too, before they were outlawed. In other words, it was almost acceptable to take a "pep pill".

    Today's doping involves massive organisation, expense and deceit. No longer does a rider take a pill or, as Kimmage says, shove some caffeine where the sun doesn't shine. Now it's unlicenced pharmaceuticals stolen from testing labs, it's huge doses of medicines designed for chemotherapy patients, it's fridges full of refrigerated blood.

    It's gone beyond a short cut to a way of life.
  • SalsicciaSalsiccia Posts: 405
    Aurelio, Kleber, et al, not only is your argument eloquent, logical and rational, it is irrefutable. I salute you. And I mean that with all sincerity.

    Perhaps the UCI, riders, Directeurs Sportif and all with an interest could come and have a look at this thread then have a look at themselves.
    I was only joking when I said
    by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    That's a really interesting point about the gap between spectators and their heroes. I wonder if this distance is affected by the changing standards of living in the western world? Coppi and Robic lived and raced nearly 50 years ago when the lives of the spectators were very much different - there's not much hardship, misfortune and toil in modern life. Perhaps turning athletes into fabricated cyber heroes is a reaction to the artificial nature of modern life - part of a process into which both athletes and spectators are sucked.
    Must be a pHd in there somewhere...

    If you are ever in Venice, go the Accademia gallery and pick up one of the English language narrations they have pre-recorded on a little Walkman. About half-way through, you'll get to Giorgione's La Tempesta. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Giorgione_019.jpg
    The narration is rather interesting. The nice lady will explain how the painting may be an allegory for the banishment of Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden. Or perhaps a representation of the increasing urbanisation of early 16th century Italy.

    "Or", says the narrator" it may just be a painting of a solider, a peasant girl and a storm in the distance"

    Sometimes it can be possible to read far too much into something.
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • vermootenvermooten Posts: 2,697
    edited October 2007
    Kléber wrote:
    Today's doping involves massive organisation, expense and deceit. No longer does a rider take a pill or, as Kimmage says, shove some caffeine where the sun doesn't shine. Now it's unlicenced pharmaceuticals stolen from testing labs, it's huge doses of medicines designed for chemotherapy patients, it's fridges full of refrigerated blood.
    Is this an argument in favour of legalising it?
    You just have to ride like you never have to breathe again.

    Manchester Wheelers
  • Fair enough, but the original point that the gap between what a cyclist is prepared to do/risk/take/organise and the man on the Clapham omnibus is bigger than ever. This is reflected in the gap between elite performance and that of the man in the street too.
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    Fair enough, but the original point that the gap between what a cyclist is prepared to do/risk/take/organise and the man on the Clapham omnibus is bigger than ever.

    But is it? The ultimate stake that any athlete has been willing to pay is his life in return for glory. This has been the case for thousands of years - it didn't start with Tom Simpson or young Benelux riders dying in their sleep. These days, the only differences I can see are that there is a greater variety of drugs and more athletes willing to take them.
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • Well, I still agree with the sentiments posted by Auerilo earlier! A a general principle it rings true with me. I guess we will have to agree to differ on this one.
  • RadsmanRadsman Posts: 122
    I agree in general with this. My problem is that the blame is placed on the cyclists and a cyclist who tests positive is then treated as if he is the lowest form of scum, sort of like the gladiator (we throw are thumbs down and chant kill him).

    The problem is with the system, not with and only with the individual cyclists.
  • mangamanmangaman Posts: 704
    I agree with Aurelio's points but I would like to add a thought I have to his 3rd about the benefits differing between individuals

    The other thing that strikes me is the team effect of cycling especially in the Grand Tours

    Not only will the rider prepared to push himself to the limits of danger with doping often do well - if he can find (and pay) for 8 others to do the same he gets a free ride virtually to the top of every mountain

    Blood doping / EPO etc is not cheap and legalising them means the teams with the most money (and a goodish doped rider) will always beat the team with no money but 1 super talented rider (even if he is doped)

    I hope that makes sense
    No athlete - in face none of us on this board - have a totally natural body. We have artificially optimised our bodies for riding a bike by training.

    Speak for yourself Olly - I've optimised mine by cunning use of beer and curry
  • andypandyp Posts: 8,847
    mangaman wrote:
    The other thing that strikes me is the team effect of cycling especially in the Grand Tours

    Not only will the rider prepared to push himself to the limits of danger with doping often do well - if he can find (and pay) for 8 others to do the same he gets a free ride virtually to the top of every mountain

    Blood doping / EPO etc is not cheap and legalising them means the teams with the most money (and a goodish doped rider) will always beat the team with no money but 1 super talented rider (even if he is doped)

    I hope that makes sense
    It makes a lot of sense - one could argue that both Banesto and USPS/Discovery did just this. Allegedly.
  • mangamanmangaman Posts: 704
    Thanks Andy - that's what I was implying - alledgedly :wink:
  • timoid.timoid. Posts: 3,133
    mangaman wrote:
    Thanks Andy - that's what I was implying - alledgedly :wink:


    Its becoming clear that most teams did this (and probably still are). ONCE, T-Mobile, Quick Step, Phonak, Astana all have testimony against them. CSC are still (to my mind) dubious as are all the Spanish and Italian outfits.
    It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    What about a certain Dutch team?
  • That's a really interesting point about the gap between spectators and their heroes. I wonder if this distance is affected by the changing standards of living in the western world? Coppi and Robic lived and raced nearly 50 years ago when the lives of the spectators were very much different - there's not much hardship, misfortune and toil in modern life. Perhaps turning athletes into fabricated cyber heroes is a reaction to the artificial nature of modern life - part of a process into which both athletes and spectators are sucked.
    It is certainly the case that there is a long history of analysing the deeper meaning of the Tour, not just in terms of the relationship between the riders and spectators but in terms of what role the Tour places in the concept of French identity and so on.

    As is to be expected these meaning are often a reflection of their times. For example, at one time the riders in the race were regarded as being dignified 'workers', respected for their human qualities and honoured as being a 'Giants of the road' for simply having ridden the Tour. Today it often seems that winning is all that matters and that the worth of the 'stars' is measured purely in their commercial value, both in terms of how much they can earn and in terms of the value to other commercial interests. Armstrong is probably the best example of this with his manager frequently talking not of Armstrong the human being but the 'Armstrong Brand'. It also seems that riders like Armstrong tend to lack the respect for their 'lessers' that was once traditional in cycling. A good example of this is the way Armstrong was reported to have dropped back during mountain stages of the Tour, mocking the suffering of those riders hanging on. It seems reasonable to argue that such changes in the Tour mirror wider social changes, such as the abandonment of the egalitarian, cooperative ideals of the post war era and the wholesale adoption of the 'look after number one', 'to the winner the spoils' competitive individualism of today. Yes, who was has always been important but at one time the Tour was about much more. I can't imagine a modern version of 'The sacrifice of Renê Vietto' becoming a part of Tour legend somehow!

    Some classic essay have been written analysing the deeper 'meaning' of the Tour, such as Roland Barthes' famous 1957 essay 'Le Tour de France comme êpopêe: (The Tour de France as Epic). A more modern book looking at such analyses is 'The Tour de France 1903-2003, A Century of Sporting Structures, Meanings and Values'. Other French writers such as Robert Redeker have also analysed the Tour in much deeper terms that is found in the Anglo-Saxon press.

    To a large degree such analysis reflects the French respect for intellectual inquiry, something which stands in stark contrast to the tabloid-fed anti-intellectualism of the UK, USA and so on. Unfortunately this cultural difference also means that many Anglo-Saxon 'fans' of the Tour totally fail to understand the history and deeper meanings of the Tour and even worse tend to interpret French concerns about the rampant commercialisation of the event and so on in a way that is constrained by contemporary 'Anglo-Saxon' ideology.
  • LangerDan wrote:
    [ If you are ever in Venice, go the Accademia gallery and pick up one of the English language narrations they have pre-recorded on a little Walkman. About half-way through, you'll get to Giorgione's La Tempesta. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Giorgione_019.jpg
    The narration is rather interesting. The nice lady will explain how the painting may be an allegory for the banishment of Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden. Or perhaps a representation of the increasing urbanisation of early 16th century Italy.

    "Or", says the narrator" it may just be a painting of a solider, a peasant girl and a storm in the distance"

    Sometimes it can be possible to read far too much into something.
    Ok. 'The Tour de France is just a bunch of blokes on push-bikes riding around France'.

    Thing is we need a rather deeper analysis than this if we are to explain the way the Tour has captured the imagination of millions for almost 100 years!
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    aurelio wrote:
    LangerDan wrote:
    [ If you are ever in Venice, go the Accademia gallery and pick up one of the English language narrations they have pre-recorded on a little Walkman. About half-way through, you'll get to Giorgione's La Tempesta. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Giorgione_019.jpg
    The narration is rather interesting. The nice lady will explain how the painting may be an allegory for the banishment of Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden. Or perhaps a representation of the increasing urbanisation of early 16th century Italy.

    "Or", says the narrator" it may just be a painting of a solider, a peasant girl and a storm in the distance"

    Sometimes it can be possible to read far too much into something.
    Ok. 'The Tour de France is just a bunch of blokes on push-bikes riding around France'.

    Thing is we need a rather deeper analysis than this if we are to explain the way the Tour has captured the imagination of millions for almost 100 years!

    Thats fine but the apoplexy of your postings any time Armstrong is mentioned does tend detract from the deeper and considered analyses you've posted above.
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • LangerDan wrote:
    the apoplexy of your postings any time Armstrong is mentioned does tend detract from the deeper and considered analyses you've posted above.
    But it's hardly possible to discuss the contemporary nature of the Tour without mentioning the influence of Armstrong who defined a whole 'era' of the Tour. I don't feel that the term 'apoplexy' is really appropriate either, it's not my fault if he does not come across well when his actions are scrutinised in any depth!

    Perhaps it's a good job I didn't bring up his persecution of Bassons and Simeoni for speaking out against doping -odd actions for someone supposedly riding 'clean' and committed to eradicating doping! His behaviour in these cases was often deplorable, such as the way he chased Simeoni down and forced him to return to the bunch. Armstrong then rallied other riders opposed to Simeoni's criticism of Ferrari to sit behind Simeoni and led them in a chant of 'censored ! censored ! Then during the last stage of the 2004 it was reported that US Postal riders spat at Simeoni. In my view Armstrong was in no way a worthy 'patron' of the Tour!
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    aurelio wrote:
    LangerDan wrote:
    the apoplexy of your postings any time Armstrong is mentioned does tend detract from the deeper and considered analyses you've posted above.
    But it's hardly possible to discuss the contemporary nature of the Tour without mentioning the influence of Armstrong who defined a whole 'era' of the Tour. I don't feel that the term 'apoplexy' is really appropriate either, it's not my fault if he does not come across well when his actions are scrutinised in any depth!

    Perhaps it's a good job I didn't bring up his persecution of Bassons and Simeoni for speaking out against doping -odd actions for someone supposedly riding 'clean' and committed to eradicating doping! His behaviour in these cases was often deplorable, such as the way he chased Simeoni down and forced him to return to the bunch. Armstrong then rallied other riders opposed to Simeoni's criticism of Ferrari to sit behind Simeoni and led them in a chant of 'censored ! censored ! Then during the last stage of the 2004 it was reported that US Postal riders spat at Simeoni. In my view Armstrong was in no way a worthy 'patron' of the Tour!

    Armstrong doesn't come across well simply because he isn't a particularly pleasant individual. Similarly there isn't any great affection for Hinault and he wasn't the product of corporate America - he was just a cranky egomaniac.

    Armstrongs treatment of Bassons was reprehensible. I'm somewhat more ambivalent towards the Simeoni case. Simeoni is yet another of those riders who only developed a conscience about doping when he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • LangerDan wrote:
    Armstrong doesn't come across well simply because he isn't a particularly pleasant individual. Similarly there isn't any great affection for Hinault and he wasn't the product of corporate America - he was just a cranky egomaniac.
    True enough what you say about Hinault. However, the way the rampant commercialisation of the Tour has undermined it's traditional values has become so much more apparent- and a matter of concern to some- in the time since Hinault. Also, I am not arguing that what the Tour is today is purely the product of a specifically 'American' corporationism. For example, the ASO group, for largely commercial reasons, wanted the 'Mondialisation' of the Tour and in the process helped to destroy much of what once made the Tour so significant, especially in terms of the way it was a symbol of French identity and so on. It is perhaps unfortunate that those who have written most eloquently on such issues, such as Redeker, rarely get their writing translated into English.

    To return to Hinault. He was certainly never seen as a 'man of the people' like Poulidor was. One of my greatest memories of the Tour dates back to the mid 1980's at a depart from Borg D'Oisans. The race has just left to polite applause when a wave of cheering approached. I wondered what was causing such a fuss when an official car came past with Poulidor sitting in the back, waving regally to the crowd. People were truly overjoyed to see him, 'C'est Poulidor! 'C'est Poulidor! Such affection for man who never won the Tour, in fact because he never won the Tour. The Tour now reflects different values, which is perhaps to be expected, after all who feels any empathy with the 'underdog' nowadays? And if only they had never scrapped the piped accordion music which was a feature of the race departs back in the 70's!
  • LangerDan wrote:
    [Thats fine but the apoplexy of your postings any time Armstrong is mentioned does tend detract from the deeper and considered analyses you've posted above.

    LangerDan, wave hello to aurelio aka Howard Peel. You will get used to his considered analyses until you realise they're simply cut'n'pasted arguments from other sources. If you think he hates LA, wait till he finds the section where he can let loose his views on Clarkson and speeding motorists.
  • aurelio_-_bannedaurelio_-_banned Posts: 1,317
    edited December 2008
    LangerDan, wave hello to aurelio aka Howard Peel. You will get used to his considered analyses until you realise they're simply cut'n'pasted arguments from other sources.
    What do the say? `Great minds think alike`.
  • Nice stuff aurelio. It's a breathe of fresh air to see people coming at the arguments from other perspectives, like the cultural, economic and political. It would be more interesting to read longer pieces from you (and others from the forum) in the comics rather than yet another anodyne (for example Liggett) column.
  • aurelio wrote:
    I have a feeling that the latest contribution might well come from a refugee from the 'veloriders' site. I can fully recommend this site, especially to all those who like to mix their cycling with self-serving right wing politics, opinions regurgitated from papers such as The Daily Mail ('cameras are cash cows' and similar idiocy) and the worship of 'nice' cars. :wink:

    yes Howard, everyone on here is retired or unemployed and are certainly not, in any way, shape or form "tossing it off on the internet on their employers time".

    Oh no :roll:

    And no-one here drives nice cars either, they're all lefty liberals and wouldn't dare to question you at all.

    As you were.
  • aurelio wrote:
    I have a feeling that the latest contribution might well come from a refugee from the 'veloriders' site. I can fully recommend this site, especially to all those who like to mix their cycling with self-serving right wing politics, opinions regurgitated from papers such as The Daily Mail ('cameras are cash cows' and similar idiocy) and the worship of 'nice' cars. :wink:

    yes Howard, everyone on here is retired or unemployed and are certainly not, in any way, shape or form "tossing it off on the internet on their employers time".

    Oh no :roll:

    And no-one here drives nice cars either, they're all lefty liberals and wouldn't dare to question you at all.

    As you were.

    I take it you two have met before? :wink:

    Please let this topic proceed as mature and reasoned debate rather than a personal bickering session.
    I was only joking when I said
    by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed
Sign In or Register to comment.