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August 13, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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Ahh, another year, another ridiculous drug scandal ripping away at what shreds of dignity the Tour de France once had. Everybody’s favourite Needles on Wheels spectacular skidded off the Pyrenees and fell 20 stages down into a melee of bloodthirsty journalists, all of whom had mastered the art of writing “steroids” in three different variations of shorthand, blindfolded, and with invisible ink. It’s the kind of sporting mishap one would expect to have been penned by Groucho Marx (“le Tour de France? I don’t care if it’s masculine – I came to France for the women!”), but alas, there’s nothing the least bit humorous about the slippery slope that performance enhancing drugs have continued to lead sports down.

It’s like a fairytale gone wrong when you think about it: Sport gets invented by toffee-nosed Brits looking for a means of regimenting young school-age scallywags; sport suffers existential crisis, begins defining itself as a cultural field, feels pretty good about itself; enjoys a few short years of relatively interesting, albeit ponsy, competition; meets young ruffian at a party called “steroids” who promises sport that he’ll take her to levels she’s never experienced before; sport throws on chastity belt of morals and good form, turns her back on steroids; steroids, like the snake of Eden, coils up around sport and hisses promises of untold fame, money and power; sport resists, but a part of her can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with the thought of the spotlight gleaning on her, if only she could get an edge… And that’s where the camera stops rolling, and the sordid underbelly we’ve come to know as sport doping begins to fester and protrude from behind the well-defined physique of fair play and honesty better known as sport’s pinup girl, a sad and sorry tale that we can still read in the sport section of any given newspaper.

What’s worse is that we’re no longer reading about some generic 100m hurdler from Ghana returning a positive B sample, after coming in fifth at some track meet in Cape Town – the so-called cherries on the sporting cake have now turned gone sour. Take baseball’s Barry Bonds for example: here’s a guy who has allegedly left a trail of hypodermic needles behind him en-route to holding the Major League record for the most home runs scored of all time – a feat he is but one homerun away from securing at the time of writing this. Now, add to the fact he’s also being investigated by the District Attorney’s Office for perjury while testifying to a grand jury in 2003 over the infamous BALCO steroids scandal and whoopee! He could find himself scoring home runs in the big house every night.

Is there an easy solution? Unfortunately, there isn’t. Perhaps the third party in this sordid relationship – the fans – should vote with their eyes and leave the cheats to ‘peddle’ their wares elsewhere.

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