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Opening Arguments


If the allegations turn out to be true, I'm not sure what my reaction will be, but I probably won't be as outraged as I'm apparently supposed to be:

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency brought formal doping charges against former cyclist Lance Armstrong in an action that could cost him his seven Tour de France titles, according to a letter sent to Armstrong and several others.

As a result of the charges, Armstrong has been immediately barred from competition in Ironman triathlons, a discipline he took up after his retirement from cycling in 2011.

In the 15-page charging letter obtained by The Washington Post, USADA outlined new allegations against Armstrong, saying it collected blood samples from him in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood ma­nipu­la­tion including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”

OK,  taking performance-enhancing drugs is "cheating," but as Henry Fonda says in "12 Angry Men," shouldn't we at least talk about it instead of rushing to judgment? How does using EPO differ from using No-Doz to study for a test or stay alert while taking it? Or, sticking with sports, how does it differ from Bobby Knight's practice of carb-loading his team by having them eat tons of pasta the night before a game? An individual with no enhancements can perform at a certain level. Ingesting certaing things can improve that level. Which enhancements do we say are acceptable and which do we condemn?

In other sporting news, Casey Martin returned to the U.S. Open, golf cart and all:

Martin, who finished in near darkness and admitted he probably should have stopped and resumed in the morning, won a lawsuit in 2001 filed against the PGA Tour that went to the Supreme Court, allowing him the use of a cart in competition under the Americans With Disabilities Act. He had been granted an injunction in 1997 and qualified for the Open in 1998 at Olympic, where he tied for 23rd in his only appearance in a major championship.

The PGA's position was that walking is part of the game -- that's part of the "level playing field." Now, Martin can use a cart -- that's "performance enhancing" for him. How is that different than what Armstrong is alleged to have done? We might say that in one case, the enhancement is merely bringing one player up to the level of the others, while in the other the enhancement is meant to let one player rise above all the others. On the other hand, in both cases the player is using an artificial means to perform a level he could not on his own, unaided.

Just asking.