Malcolm Boyle: Cheats will keep taking chances


The Lance Armstrong sideshow has hopefully reached a media crescendo. Fingers crossed that from here, Armstrong will now fade into cycling ignominy, joining the drug liars and cheats from other international sports.

Has the whole truth now been subject to the disinfectant of full, qualified and impartial investigation? Not likely. The only thing that sets Armstrong apart from hairy-armed shot-putters is the sophistication of the cheating and the obscene rewards he reaped.

It's been a long time that Armstrong has wriggled on the hook, looking for the opportunity to make the music die and live in perfect denial. All that remains is how history will judge him or how solid is his PR machine which has managed to keep the doubters and accusers at bay for the past decade.

But it seems cycling can claim little credit for engineering a peep into Lance's Pandora's box - in the end it appears it was the PR lackeys and television network executives who oversaw Armstrong's final fall from grace. Of course, it won't be the last in the dog-eat-dog world of international sport.

We're deluding ourselves if we don't accept that doping isn't a part of sport at all levels and, while there is reward in winning at all costs, the cheats will continue to exist.

Winning is just far too intoxicating for us all to be gallant losers.

Even the halcyon days of club rugby league in Auckland showed the allure of chemical-induced success. One coach of a top Auckland club consistently heard complaints from his players that a rival top team was boasting that they were given "uppers" to boost their energy levels before games.

Tiring of the constant refrain, the coach contrived to set up a table in the team's changing room before the next game. He then made a brief speech about a "substance" being available for those who wanted to take it confidentially.

On the table were pill containers, each with a tablet inside. The coach added that he didn't want to know who took the "tablet" before the next game against their old adversary, and there would be no recriminations. Most took the tablets which the coach later confessed were sweets cut in two with a pill-cutter.

The majority said they felt an energy boost as they went on to win the match. In time, all accepted that the effect was psychological and the coach discontinued the charade.

Obviously the "chemists" at Carlaw Park were far removed from the resources of the Tour de France but it didn't stop them experimenting with less grandiose enhancements.

- Herald on Sunday

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