By Rob Dore
The above image was created partly for some cheap laughs and partly to ignite a debate on the serious issue of performance enhancing substances in sport. There seems little doubt now that Lance Armstrong cheated his way to success and though there’s also little doubt that he was one of many, this shouldn’t mitigate the responsibility of his personal choice. If two wrongs don’t make a right neither does 50 wrongs.
Armstrong will take the brunt of the public’s ire and ridicule because he benefited the most from the use of PEDs. He has been the poster boy for cycling for over a decade. His achievements were made all the more monumental by his backstory, something which has stirred up conflicting emotions in many of his fans — including Joey Barton. Whether they still count themselves as fans may take some time and serious thought to figure out.
The below quotes are taken directly from Joey Barton’s blog, where he has shared his thoughts on the shamed American cyclist.
Drugs don’t make you a competitor?
“Armstrong is a true competitor – drugs or not – you don’t win multiple titles in an elite sport, post-cancer on drugs alone – not even close, PEDs are the icing on the cake, they offer “the edge,” the extra few percent in performance.”
“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘It’s better to be a lion for a day, then a rat for a lifetime.’ If you were a rat and someone offered you the chance to become a lion, would you take the gamble? All we know Armstrong’s character is a true fighter.”
“I believe wider usage gives Armstrong some mitigation, yet it cannot make correct, ethical or in the true spirit of fair play. There is a dark side to cycling. In fact, I believe that there’s a dark side to sport, a side that people neither want to believe or choose to ignore.”
“Have you ever wondered how some of the top Italian league players have played at such a high level for so long, this is a bunch of players at the top who are (or were, when playing) fast heading towards 40 and running around like someone in there early 30s, and playing up to 80 games each season?”
Are footballers under-tested?
“My personal experience of drugs tests, as a professional athlete, is that they have only ever taken a urine sample from me. Only urine, in numerous tests over 10+ years of competing at elite level sport.”
“Finally, I have never had a hair sample taken. I didn’t know of this procedure until writing this piece and forgive me if I am wrong but doesn’t the hair hold on to the use of substances for a lot longer than urine or blood? For instance in recreational drugs usage, sometimes the said drug can be flushed out of one’s system within days, where as the hair follicles hold on to proof of the same drug usage for up to three months. Shouldn’t hair be tested? I mean if you’re clean you’re clean, right?”
A cheat but still a hero?
“A lot of people might feel let down by Lance Armstrong, I can appreciate that feeling. It is disappointing more than anything. Is he a “cheat”, yes it appears so, and he’s far from alone in sport or in politics and big business. I hope the Armstrong case is a catalyst for more people to look themselves in the mirror, to create positive change.”
“I for one though still believe in the inspirational Armstrong story of cancer survivor to battling competitor, a hero of character and hard graft, you can’t take that amount of effort away from him. Drugs alone don’t make you world champion, you still have to put the work in.”
Do you agree?