- 08/29/2012, 09:28PM ET
Bigalke said 08/29, 09:28 PM
Recently Frank Deford penned this on the SI site:
"At base, we attend games and we become sports fans because we are enthralled that these young men and women are capable, with their bodies, of what we could never manage with ours. When athletes take performance-enhancing drugs they destroy that basic truth."
The reality is that, you weren't getting there WITH PEDs, Frank. To get to the point where an athlete can afford to cycle on and off expensive black-market PEDs, he must already to have exhibited a preternatural flair for physical execution to a level that would allow him to go professional and earn enough to expand that physiology.
Arguments like Deford's assume that there was some "golden era" in sport where the men were pure of body and spirit, a myth of amateurs playing for love of exercise and fraternal competition. A litany of names -- Pud Galvin, Choppy Warburton, Arthur Linton, Tom Hicks, the Pelissier brothers, Manfred Ewald, Dr. John Ziegler, Dr. Michele Ferrari, Ben Johnson, Victor Conte -- throughout history debunk this myth.
There is no pure era. Every era had its own best PEDs, and only the best athletes reached a point to afford them...
fvkasm2x said 08/29, 09:55 PM
Everyone has icons or heroes of an era that they idolized. Everyone talks about "the good old days" or how the sport used to have "real stars." Perhaps these eras were littered with a few guys here and there looking to get an advantage, but for the most part... we have to assume the vast majority of guys were clean.
Steve Yzerman, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Rocket Richard, etc... didn't use PEDs. I just can't believe it.
Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, etc... didn't use PEDs. I just can't believe it.
Walter Payton, Lynn Swann, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, etc... didn't use PEDs. I just can't believe it.
These are the guys in my "golden era."
I'm far more impressed with these players than with the players of today. Athletes who get there on their own. Athletes who use talent and drive to become elite are more impressive to me than guys who used technology and drugs.
Sure we've heard about pitchers throwing no hitters on LSD. Sure we heard about football players snorting coke.
I wouldn't call these behaviors performance enhancing. There are golden eras and they are more impressive than current athletes.
Bigalke said 08/30, 06:30 PM
"I just can't believe it" is hardly a defense. The line between simple recreation and performance enhancer is razor thin, and to merely assert that somebody did NOT use PEDs because "you can't believe it" is naive... at best.
The problem is that testing can never keep up with drugs... you have to have a sample of the drug before you can reverse-engineer a test for it. What I'm arguing here is not whether PEDs are good or bad, or who took them.
The fact is that athletes have used the best available pharmaceutical technology of their age -- Galvin with Brown-Sequard Elixir (containing monkey testosterone) in the 1880s, Tom Hicks with strychnine to win the 1904 Olympic marathon, the synthesis of amphetamines in the 1930s, anabolics in the 1950s and beyond. Before cocaine was recreational, it was used by cyclists to stay alert during hours in the saddle.
The reality is that every athlete takes SOMETHING. Any drug -- from aspirin to anabolics -- allow athletes to enhance their current abilities and play on. There are PEDs both legal and illegal, and the fact athletes take them does not diminish the fact that they're showcasing the pinnacle of performanc
fvkasm2x said 08/30, 08:40 PM
"I can't believe it" may be naive and may not be a defense... but flip the coin.
Saying every generation cheated and every era had PEDs is pessimistic and also devoid of proof. Just because you MAY be able to call out a handful of people going back to the 1880's trying random substances doesn't mean much.
Are there any studies that actually PROVE that using amphetamines makes someone a better athlete? Where you do draw the line as to what defines a PED?
How about caffeine? How about sugar? How about those aspirin you talk about?
Substances aren't necessarily PERFORMANCE ENHANCING just be cause an athlete takes it.
Ever hear of the placebo effect?
An athlete that drinks monkey urine and then wins an event can claim the urine gives him super Godly powers. That doesn't make it true.
Doped athletes are NOT necessarily the pinnacle of performance, as you suggest in the title of this TD.
Most of them are average or good athletes who want to try and get better unnaturally. Most fail. Look the names on the Mitchell report. Most of them are bums who never accomplished anything. Pinnacle of the sport? Hardly
Bigalke said 08/31, 02:51 PM
The premise here is not whether or not drugs are bad. The question is whether or not a doped athlete can be the source of sublime physical performances.
An athlete on amphetamines peps up his natural athleticism to keep going longer with less fatigue. An athlete on EPO can process more oxygen more efficiently. The problem in any case is quantification. There are no scientific studies to quantify that X drug has X% effect and Y drug has Y% effect. Which makes the point a wash for both parties.
When you're watching an athletic performance, especially in this era, it is possible to be both skeptical and spellbound. The debate is not whether drugs are good or bad, or which are good or bad. This isn't a value judgment.
Lance Armstrong can still have put in amazing performances on French roads even with EPO etc. in his system. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire still captivated us in the moment, even knowing what we do in retrospect.
The argument isn't whether EVERY athlete who dopes is the pinnacle. The argument is whether or not ANY doped athlete can put on a sublime performance. And the truth is that they have, time and time again, throughout sports history.
fvkasm2x said 08/31, 03:54 PM
These are but 5 names I randomly pulled from The Mitchell Report.
Do you think that drugs helped these guys reach the pinnacle of performance? Of course not. They're nobody in the sports world.
For every Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, you've got 4 or 5 of these guys. Maybe more.
The point, is that true greatness doesn't come from a pill or a needle. Superior athletes have the talent. They have natural gifts that they may or may not work hard to maintain and hone. We are far less impressed with players who cheat to be good, than we are with guys who are "natural."
The notion that there is a "start" to the steroid era in baseball is highly debated. The old timers of every sport have never come out and said that their contemporaries have cheated or done drugs. Why is that? Do they have more honor than guys from the 80's and 90's?
Or perhaps guys from the 20's to the 60's just weren't cheating in large numbers. Players USED to police themselves. They'd know if a guy was cheating and put a stop to it. There was a code among men back then.
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