Most of the time, we view pro athletes as if they are gods.
Their divine talent blinds us and makes us forget that athletes are humans, too.
But when our idols are caught taking performance-enhancing drugs, we feel disappointed and sometimes make excuses for the person, blaming the culture of the sport. For others, cheating is irreparable.
Lance Armstrong is the latest athlete scrutinized for using PEDs, as he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned by the International Cycling Union. This comes after Armstrong faced years of allegations and won multiple appeals.
The use of PEDs has run rampant in several other major sports, tainting the records and reputations of numerous athletes.
Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens — the list of baseball players accused of using PEDs goes on and on. Bonds’ home run record of 762 remains tainted, but not redacted, after he was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury about his use of steroids, according to an ESPN article from April 14, 2011.
Though the program implemented stricter testing for banned substances, most of the time the best players are caught using. Last year, NL MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers tested positive for PEDs but won his appeal. This year, Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants tried to cover up his doping through a fake website.
When it comes to doping, football and baseball play by different rules. Doping goes unnoticed in football because a bulked-up football player isn’t an unusual sight. Players must take massive doses of painkillers and bodybuilding drugs in order to survive hundreds of 300-pound hits each season. Linebackers seem to be caught the most. In 2010, Brian Cushing of the Houston Texans faced a four-game suspension for testing positive for a non-steroidal banned substance, according to a May 10 ESPN article.
The World Anti-Doping Agency just blasted the NBA’s anti-doping policy, saying it needs improvements, according to an Oct. 19 ESPN article. NBA commissioner David Stern has claimed that PEDs would not be effective in basketball. Not many players are nabbed for violating the drug policy, and those caught face a minimum suspension of 10 games.
Professional cycling is different than other pro sports, which have their own anti-doping policies, as cycling and other Olympic sports are governed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Officials saw Armstrong as the influencer of doping culture in cycling, pressuring his peers to try the drugs, according to an Oct. 10 New York Times article.
Cyclists using banned substances show how advanced these drugs have become. Armstrong was likely using these drugs for several years, but his use wasn’t visible.
Armstrong’s story really is that of a fallen legend, after many were captivated by his cancer story and his power on two wheels. Now, the fact that he was using drugs the whole time brings a whole new meaning to the word “LIVESTRONG.”