Consider first the possibilities that a rider faces - whether to dope or not; whether to deny or not if accused; whether to deny or not if caught; whether to become an anti-doper, or to continue on quietly (once again doping, or quietly not doping); whether to accuse others of doping.
Second, consider you you weigh these decisions. I weight the decision to race clean the highest; if a rider is willing to stay clean it has in the past been a costly decision - God bless those who hit the upper reaches of the sport and stayed clean. I consider the decision to confess use when not under coercion, and where it has professional and personal costs to be a less immoral course than denying and/or retaliating against accusers. Getting caught - well, that proves the doping; subsequent denial of it is adding lies atop the initial crime, while confession is at least coming clean after having screwed up. Becoming an anti-doper is clearly a bid for moral redemption, while turning state's evidence, while good in an honest sort of way, is often as self-serving as the initial decision to dope, perhaps moreso. Pile a number of bad decisions atop one another - dope, deny, get caught, deny, turn state's evidence - is a long decision of choices to act in an immoral and self-serving manner, whether or not any good comes of it. The decision, for instance, to become an anti-doper after being caught, is morally distinct from the decision to turn state's evidence. One decision *may* carry with it some professional or personal advantage, while the other decision - testifying to avoid incarceration - generally lacks even the appearance of altruisim. So too the difference between merely turning state's evidence, and turning state's evidence plus becoming an anti-doper. The additional act of undertaking anti-doping initiatives is an affirmative act, a thing that was not compelled to avoid prosecution.
Here are some test cases. The lettering tells you how I weigh things. Think about how you weigh them.
A. Never doped, lost professional opportunities because of it, speaks out against doping.
B. Never doped out of fear of getting caught, discusses openly that he views it as a moral neutral.
C. Doped, never caught, confessed, speaks out against doping, lost professional opportunities, post-cycling, because of it.
D. Doped, never caught, didn't exactly confess, speaks out and works against doping, may have gained professional opportunities because of it.
E. Probably doped, never caught, never really admitted it, never denied it either, just wants to get on with his life.
F. Almost certainly doped, vociferously denied it, never caught, filed libel suits or engaged in other attacks against accusers.
G. Doped, caught, confessed, became an anti-doper, has new professional opportunities because of it.
H. Doped, caught, confessed, became an anti-doper, avoided (maybe) prosecution as a result.
I. Doped, caught, denied it, shut up, went back to racing or retired.
J. Doped, caught, denied it, took others down in their defense, hit up fans for defense donations, admitted having doped but *still* insisting their dope tests were wrong or based in corruption, and making allegations against C, D E and F.
A. Danny Pate
B. Mike Creed
C. Frankie Andreu, Udo Boelts, Bjarne Riis
D. Jonathan Vaughters, Rolf Aldag, Jesper Skibby
E. George Hincapie, Sean Kelly**
F. Lance Armstrong, Stephan Roche
G. David Millar
H. Joe Papp
I. Danilo DiLuca, Ivan Basso
J. Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis
Aside from people who manage to avoid making the terrible choice to compromise themselves, everybody else is just a darker or lighter shade of gray. We should understand those shades, ponder the motivations, and figure out whether our current system is set up to drive people to the dark side, or the light.
As I see it now, it is set up as a gambler's choice - dope and maybe get caught and punished, or stay clean and certainly get punished in a practical sense, of having great difficulty reaching the top tiers of the sport. I've talked to some guys who doped; you need to understand it's not a huge choice presented with an opera playing some moody overture from an Italian tragedy in the background. It's a tough choice - you're a young rider, you're very good, you could be great. Do you want to take the bag and be a supported rider or a key domestique? Or would you rather have to fight for your contract every year and hang onto the fringes of the sport? Would you rather be staying as a guest in people's houses, ekeing out a bare living in-season and doing some ski bum job or something out of season, or would you rather be a decently paid domestic pro? It is a hard choice for them, an immoral situation thrust upon them, that offers only one - very difficult - moral path out of it. The choice shouldn't have to be so tough.
Looking at it in this analytical manner suggests to me that we need to think about how we can incentivize highly moral behavior - anti-doping, self-referral (confession) of doping, and turning attempted dopers in. Can we offer immunity to those who stop freely and subject themselves to verification testing? Would it be possible to incentivize behavior like Xavier Tondo's, who turned in the people who were attempting to sell him PEDs?
I think it could be done. It will take a mindset change at the top levels of cycling management, however, and in the grassroots. We need moral clarity, and we need to think analytically about what matters, about what behavior in particular we are trying to encourage, what we are trying to discourage, and how the current system of incentives and disincentives is set up. I would argue now that it favors the dopers who can most successfully evade enforcement, rather than those who would rather stay, or become clean racers.
As for low level racers who dope, well, you guys are just assholes. There is no justification for it.
**Tested positive in 1984 but it was determined he'd used his mechanic's urine for the test. His mechanic was on PED's to cope with the long hours of work...
TOT 51: Birthday Boys