Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Time for Cyclists to form a Union

I have not followed the Tour de France with much enthusiasm the past couple of decades. Even with the expanded coverage on versus, I don’t have the mindset to stay tuned into watching sports on television for more than about 30 minutes. I enjoy cycling, but professional cyclists are just in a whole other world.

The subject of doping in sports is in the mainstream media and I would like to share my thoughts. I think it is unfortunate that the outcome of events can be greatly influenced by technology and body chemistry. I would like to believe that events were won or loss strictly on strategy, execution and luck. Genetics and training will always be the foundation for successful athletes. However, it seems that a top 50 athlete can become a top 10 athlete through the use of performance enhancing drugs.

As an amateur athlete, I think that is pretty cool to be able to overcome mediocre genetics and get greater enjoyment out of my hobbies. As an external observer of professional sports, I think it sucks that the best in the world can be sucker punched by individuals who make an effort to skirt the rules governing their sports.

Professional athletes aside from wanting to be the best also earn a living from their chosen avocation and only a very select few can make a living. Considering the margin of victory in the grand tours and the potential improvement with performance enhancing drugs, I think it is extremely likely that a doped rider could significantly influence a race and put non-doped riders at a disadvantage.

However the witch hunts of the last decade are absolutely humiliating. I think it is time professional riders formed a union and forced some accountability on the part of tour promoters and cycling’s governing bodies. Unions have shown to be successful in United States professional sports. Further I think having a say so would protect riders from unfair competition. Within a sport, people know who are up to no good and could be in some small part self policing.

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