Why You Shouldn’t Care About Lance Armstrong

Every professional athlete is cheating, in some capacity. 

I’m not saying that every successful athlete is taking testosterone shots to their back side three times a week.  I’m not saying that all pros are ingesting HGH at carefully selected points during the month.  But on some small level, every modern athlete is cheating. The level at which that cheating is crosses over from “strong work ethic” to “performance enhancing” is arbitrary.  Sports science and sports medicine have both developed to the point that we need to consider the possibility that we need to get rid of the idea of cheating via PEDs all together. 

That Lance Armstrong allegedly was “blood doping” during his seven Tour de France titles matters not.  After all, as was pointed out today, 41 of the 70 riders who finished in the top tens of those races has been busted for PEDs as well. This is a sport where one could argue that you weren’t even really competing unless you were cheating.  And that’s pretty much true for all sports in the modern era.

While the extent of the cheating varies from sport to sport, it exists in every major professional sport.  It’s a product of the unquenchable thirst to push the boundaries of the human body farther and faster than they’ve ever gone before.  A wide receiver loses a step or two, get him off the field!  An outfielder only has warning track power, cut him!  Shooting guard X can’t even dunk anymore, leave him on the bench! We’re all to blame for it which is why we shouldn’t care that it exists in any capacity.  These athletes are obligated to cheat if they want to compete at the insane levels required of professional sports.

Let’s just get this over with really quick. The common misconception with PEDs is that athletes use them primarily to get stronger.  While getting stronger can be considered a nice consilation prize, the primary purpose of using PEDs is to recover more quickly from injury, however major or minor that injury might be.  Basic excercise “injures” the muscles in some small capacity and through the body’s natural processes, the muscle rebuilds itself stronger for the next time.  The faster that rebuilding process takes place, the better.  By having muscles that aren’t injured, the body is more responsive in athletic activity.

Ask yourself an honest question, at what point does an athlete’s use of a foreign substance constitute cheating in your mind?

How can a person honestly argue that ingesting a protein shake after a workout is any different than using HGH?  The desired outcome is the same.  Both protein and HGH work to help the body recover from the workout.  Why is one substance perfectly normal and accepted as a legal rehabilitation method while the other is not?  Protein powder is a manufactured substance, mass produced for the sole purpose of helping people recover from workouts.  Why isn’t HGH available in the same capacity?

The ONLY, and there is only one, ONLY argument that can be used to stymie the use of performance enhancing drugs is with regards to the safety of the human body.  To which I’d counter, regulate it!  Regulate it like alcohol.  Regulate it like tobacco.  Make people aware of any health problems that come with its abuse but then let them have at it.  To come up with an explanation that some substances provide individuals a significant advantage while others do not is as asinine as the NCAA trying to justify the existence of amateur athletics.  There is no point anymore.  Let’s get rid of the hypocrisy all together and just admit it happens and try to regulate it so that some teenager doesn’t cause long-term damage to his kidneys by secretly shooting himself up too often with anabolic steroids.

And this doesn’t even get into the really ground-breaking area of PEDs, the type which Armstrong’s case ventured into.  What if performance enhancing drugs come from the very body with which they will eventually go back in to?  That’s sort of complex.  Here’s the easy way of saying it: how do we feel about guys like Kobe Bryant having their blood withdrawn, spun in a centrifuge, and then shot back into parts of their body?  It’s not a natural process but the ingredients, if you will, are all natural.  Are we as a society really going to try to sit down at a table and figure out which procedures like this are okay and which ones constitute cheating?  I don’t see columnists and sports anchors across the country crying foul over Kobe, but I’ll be god damned if Lance Armstrong dropped a little EPO into his blood!  That’s a god damn shame I tell you!  A shame!  And, oh yeah, what does EPO stand for again?


If there’s one thing that history has taught us during steroid scandals, it’s that the scientists and the athletes are always three steps ahead of the people trying to regulate it.  There are vastly superior resources devoted towards always pushing the bounds of sports science as opposed to regulating it. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and emotions to keep insisting that we need to continue persecuting the alleged “cheaters.”  Instead of having another pointless Salem Witch Trial, why don’t we take a proactive step and actually encourage safe experimentation and consumption of these products?  End the charade once and for all and I promise we’ll all be a lot happier as sports fans.

So seriously, sit down today and try to come up with “the line” at which you consider an athlete cheating today.  Hit me back in the comments even at which point I’ll dissect your argument 1,000 times over for its flaws and hypocrisies.  And if you still think PEDs are the devil, well, you’re probably a fan of the BCS and Skip Bayless.


Video: This Is How To Get DQ’d From The Olympics In Badminton

I honestly have no problem with this if they weren’t taking money to lose. Couldn’t you argue they were actually competing to get the gold by trying to get the favorable seeds through losing intentionally? Scroll ahead in the clip to the :45 mark.


Good Morning Generation

The NBA season is still very, very young.  A lot of people would rightly call any gross assumptions thus far as being extremely premature.  Stat nerds always lean towards mentioning a “larger sample size” and they’re mostly correct.  However, there’s one thing I can’t shake about a certain famous player on the league’s most famous franchise.  The man: Kobe Bean Bryant.  The team: the Los Angeles Lakers.

The issue?  The Kobe dilemma.

I touched on this in a roundup NBA column I wrote the other day, but it’s become increasingly clear that Kobe is intent on winning his way or no way at all.  I mentioned a shocking incident I witnessed the other night between the Rockets and Lakers (more on that later), but then came this Rick Reilly piece yesterday on ESPN.com which made it clear that Bryant is dead set on maintaining the status quo.  The status quo being that he is the Lakers primary scorer and that the offense must be run through him.

Listen to what he says to Reilly.  “Look, I’ve played 15 years. I’ve won world championships. I’ve done all these things. And people still want to talk about this stupid-a** [stuff]? I’m a scorer first … I’ll try to make the good play, the good pass, kick it out when my teammates are open, but I’m a scorer first. I may shoot 27 times. I may shoot 20 times. Nobody complains when I shoot 10 times. You don’t hear ME complaining when I shoot 10 times. It just depends on the game, you know?

There are two sides to this argument.  The first is the completely defensible position that Kobe is hurting his team by taking up too many possessions and utilizing so many of the Lakers’ shots.  Anyone who watches the Lakers right now can see that Andrew Bynum is the Lakers’ best player.  He has length that simply cannot be guarded by his peers in the NBA and we all agree that it’s far more efficient to give a guy 20-30 shots from the five foot range than have a shooting guard take 20-30 shots from fifteen feet.  There’s obviously a higher probability associated with converting a shot the closer it is to the basket.  It seems to be a no-brainer that a team would rather have Bynum leading the offense.

It’s not a no-brainer though (is it a brainer?), and thus comes the other side of the argument which is far more complex than one might imagine.  Unfortunately, because of how tight-lipped Kobe is off the court, we can only speculate as to what’s really going on for this side of the argument which leads to zero conclusions.  From the small amount that Kobe has given us, it’s increasingly clear that he views himself unquestionably as being the Lakers’ best player.  The easy argument is to say that it’s because he’s a stubborn, past-his-prime, aging star that refuses to give up his role.  For most players out there that would probably be true.  But this is Kobe Bryant, one of the ten greatest basketball players who ever lived and the second greatest shooting guard of all-time.  Why do we still doubt when he insists that everything is going to be okay?  Why do we refuse to acknowledge his point that about winning five championships?

The complex aspect is that with Kobe, almost everything he says or does seems to prove true with time, although he bears an unholy amount of criticism before it does.  Do you remember how ostracized he was after forcing the Shaq trade?  Turns out he was right there.  Shaq quit working hard years before he was shipped off to the Heat, choosing to party and binge eat rather than commit himself to win like Kobe.  Bryant saw all that.  He realized they easily could have added two or three more rings, if only the big fella could have had some discipline.  At the time we blasted him for being selfish enough to ruin what could have been the greatest dynasty ever.  But it’s only now that we see that Kobe was right.

Is it possible that the exact same thing is going on here with Bynum?  That the current Lakers center isn’t putting in the work that Bryant knows it will take to win a title?  Is it possible something deeper went on during last year’s horrific playoff collapse that will prohibit Kobe from ever trusting Bynum (as well as Gasol) again?  History proves that we should probably lean towards this conclusion.

I’m really worried for the Lakers though.  There are two things that have happened thus far that I can only describe as shocking.  The first was this admission by head coach Mike Brown: “I think this is a players’ league and I don’t care if you’re Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich or whoever. Your best player has to allow you to coach him.  Right now Kobe Bryant allows me to coach him.  And I don’t have any problem saying that. It makes it easier for me to coach this team.

What kind of a head coach admits that? Red Auerbach is rolling over in his grave after hearing that.

The second incident is the aforementioned conclusion to the Lakers-Rockets game the other night.  For those who already know what happened, I apologize for the redundancy, but it’s worth reexamining.  In the final five minutes of that game the other night, the Lakers were clearly going to beat the Rockets, it was only a matter of getting a couple baskets to close it out.  Obviously you have no problem with Kobe taking those initial shots to shut the game down.  He made them on two straight possessions and the ballgame was clearly over.

Except the game had some special significance.  Andrew Bynum just so happened to be within a point or two of achieving his first 20-20 game of his NBA career.  And for those out there who think nights like that don’t matter to players, you’re an idiot.  It’s also worth noting that if you think Kobe Bryant wasn’t aware of that possible statistical milestone, you’re an even bigger idiot.  So with the game in hand, clearly closed out by Kobe, what did Mr. Bryant decide to do?

He proceeded with one of the most shocking exhibitions of keep away I’ve ever witnessed on a basketball court.  He practically assaulted the Lakers point guard to give him the ball when they’d reach their half court offense and intentionally took the shot on six or so straight possessions.  At one point it became clear that he had his own shot at 40 points, which only encouraged him to freeze out Bynum at an even more alarming rate.  Up by at least ten with very little time left, Kobe actually chucked a three within the first ten seconds of a shot clock.

It was so clear that something else was at work that night, that a message was being sent.  This is Kobe Bryant’s team and anyone that didn’t like it could get the f—- off his court.  It was as if Kobe was flipping Bynum the double bird after each shot attempt, letting him know who his daddy was.  Only a miracle full-court, fast-break heave by Matt Barnes allowed Bynum to convert the 20-20.  The damage was done though.  The message was sent.

The Lakers are going to live and die by Kobe Bryant this year.  That is an undisputable fact.

In the black mamba they must trust.

So why is it so damn hard to believe in him?

Generation Y, where we’d like to be the next offensive coordinator of the Patriots, best launching pad ever.