A prominent local racer asks on the local listserve, what's the big deal about amateur doping? Does anybody really care?
I paraphrase, but that's the gist of it. Thing is, I know of some folks around here who have doped, and as much as I'd like to think warmly about them in an uncomplicated way, I can't. I can think well of them, sort of, but there is always an issue of trust, same as I can't often ride with people who are bad bike handlers. I can't share in the unalloyed joy of a fellow racer's win, or look on in admiration without having serious qualifications that reduce "Awesome! F888 Yeah!" to "Nice race, I guess." You dope, then the glory you steal is greatly diminished thereafter, even if you do come by it honestly later on.
So I guess I could answer the prominent local racer by saying, I don't care about dopers, other than:
1) it's pretty low to screw your peers out of their moment of glory. It's called "theft of honor." Military folks have some words to describe people who wear awards they didn't acquire legitimately. They aren't flattering.
2) it's really skeevy to betray the trust and respect your fellow competitors have for you. Seriously, most racers I know really really want to win, but also think well of their peers. We all live in the same area, know a lot of the same people professionally and personally, and generally think well of other racers by default until they prove that our trust is misplaced... way to squander our goodwill, guys. The goodwill of one's fellow man isn't really appreciated normally until 20 years after the fact, at which point one feels the bitter sting of self-recrimination for having cut one's self off from fellowship with one's peers, though sometimes in a fast crit the goodwill is appreciated immediately when one needs to scootch in uncomfortably close to avoid getting curbed, and any resistance by the scootch-ee immediately results in a trip over the bars and into the ambulance.
3) it reveals that your self respect is low enough that you're willing to sell the one thing you enter and leave the world with - your reputation - for $125 and a box of stale Clif bars. Most people have their price, shoot, I'm willing to admit that I'd probably sell out a lot of things for the right price, but selling out to win a training crit or some local race that doesn't count to anybody other than the 67 guys racing in it? That is just absurd. Do you hate yourself or something?
4) I don't much like answering questions from family and friends about participating in a sport where outsiders perceive that everybody who plays is involved in #1-3. I accept it used to go on a lot but the rules have changed due to the alarming way doping has skewed competition in many sports. We've realized the error of tolerating it. People who keep doing it now are not in-with-the-in-crowd. They are out step with society and with those of us who race clean - surely the vast majority of us at the amateur level.
5) It's a matter of personal integrity, but your integrity is one of the pegs on which you, and everybody you know, rates you. If you have high integrity, you will be looked up to and admired, win or not. If you do not have integrity, you cannot steal admiration or respect the way you steal wins. Doesn't work that way; respect is something that must be earned, and cannot be stolen, and any admiration we have will be false. Then if the doper is discovered, all that admiration and respect is retracted, wiped out, replaced with scornful derision.
I know these are hurtful comments for people who do, or who have doped. Sorry guys and gals, it's the way it is. You can go back and earn our respect by playing clean, but it doesn't erase what you've done. Please don't look to the rest of us for moral sanction for what you are doing or have done; we are not the ultimate moral arbiters and cannot absolve you of it. Like the choice to pop the pill or stick in the needle, it's your choice, you have to live with the consequences; and just as we onlookers can't undo the doping conviction, the liver cancer or your lost reputation, we can't sanctify the decision by saying it's okay when we all know it isn't.
I wouldn't ask you to lie to me and tell me I'm thin, fast, and dashing; so don't ask me to lie to you and tell you doping, particularly by amateurs who really race only for the honor, is no big deal.