Also on doping:
@Jonathan and @chad touched on a area of tension in dealing with dopers that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Particularly, I took one of Jonathan’s points to be that he has some discomfort with the “pitchfork” reaction from other athletes and the cycling (or triathlon) community when someone gets punished for doping. I also understood Chad’s response to be that dopers deserve what they get because they knowingly broke the rules, and thus he has no sympathy for them.
I’ll try not to bury the lead and just say, I’m with you Jonathan. The trash talk, the personal insults, the total lack of sportsmanship that’s on display when it comes to dopers who are caught doesn’t sit well with me either. For me, the reason it doesn’t sit well is that it’s got the flavor of mob justice. As I understand it, we have sanctioning bodies and anti-doping authorities that make rules regarding performance enhancing substance use, and those rules also prescribe the penalties/punishments for violating those rules. Athletes who get caught under those rules end up with a punishment based on those same rules. I have a pretty high level of comfort with that approach to enforcement and punishment.
However, over the last few years, it seems that even after an athlete serves whatever punishment he receives under the rules, other athletes and stakeholders in the sport feel like they have carte blanche to treat those folks like garbage. There’s no thoughtful relationship between the verbal abuse being doled out and the original infraction. Put differently, no one seems to care if the punishment fits the crime at that point. I’m also really uncomfortable with the possibility that the reason folks like to trash athletes caught doping is for some personal catharsis.
I could keep going on the reasons that the “pitchfork” approach doesn’t sit right with me, but this is going to spiral way beyond the length of a normal forum post if it hasn’t already.
To Chad though, I hear you, man. These people cheated and got caught and I totally agree that no one needs to sugar coat that or give those people a pass. They should be punished, for lots of reasons like deterrence, just desserts, and to demonstrate to the rule followers that fair play isn’t taken for granted. But, I just don’t think the punishment should be a free for all of abuse from other athletes and stakeholders. And if the problem is that the types of punishments coming out of USADA, WADA, etc. don’t fit the crime, and that’s why the cycling community feels the need to pile on after the suspensions have been doled out, then let’s focus on tuning the punishments prescribed under the rules to better fit the cheating.