Banned cyclist Lance Armstrong, a bronze medalist in the 2000 Games, is said to have admitted doping to Oprah Winfrey in an interview that will air later this week. Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether the International Olympic Committee should consider dropping cycling until the sport cleans up its act. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
Cycling is not having a good time of it right now. Seems more pro cyclists take performance-enhancing substances than don’t, but now there seems to be a segment that wishes for cycling to be taken out of the Olympics.
That’s just silly. Do we remove track and field? Been a few “positives” in that sport. Cross-country skiing? Didn’t, like, the whole Austrian team get busted one year? And cycling isn’t just road cycling. There’s track cycling too, lots of it. Haven’t been any drug scandals there. Yet. And we won’t even talk about wrestling and weightlifting. They even do TV skits where weightlifters' arms come flying off with fake blood spurting everywhere.
Here’s a thought. How about trying to fix the doping problem and not eliminate the sport? But that would be hard work. Unless you want your Olympics to be synchronized swimming and beach volleyball, just dumping cycling accomplishes nothing.
Cycling gets to stay in the Olympics on one condition: the International Cycling Union leaders who turned a blind eye to doping (best case) or enabled it (more likely) must go. Whether Lance Armstrong testifies against them or not, ex-UCI president Hein Verbruggen (still on UCI management committee) and current president Pat McQuaid have no credibility because they both have spent years allowing the sport to become a doping cesspool.
The International Olympic Committee always finds it convenient to say international federations must be independent, but it has told some (figure skating, boxing, weightlifting) to clean up judging or doping issues -- or else. In this case, part of the “or else” should go into effect immediately: the IOC should suspend cycling from the Olympics until it dumps not only Verbruggen and McQuaid but its entire management committee.
George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel
Drop the hammer.
Why not? Cycling is the dirtiest sport on the planet. The sport should market a bumper-sticker that says “Honk if you love blood-doping.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if Lance Armstrong throws the sport’s governing body under the bus in his interview with Oprah Winfrey. Armstrong isn’t being a courageous whistle-blower. He is simply trying to cover his butt in the hopes of getting back into some form of elite competition, like triathlons.
But there’s no question that Armstrong was simply a Pied Piper among a legion of cheats, and the sport’s governing body has done very little to discourage those unethical shenanigans.
Perhaps it’s best for the International Olympic Committee to clean house before cycling is allowed back into the five-ring party.
Gary R. Blockus, Allentown Morning Call
The International Olympic Committee can do what it wants to cycling, but if it decides to ban the sport, then it’s making perhaps the most politically and financially motivated statement since the reinstatement of the modern games in 1896, while being hypocritical.
Where was such a cry from the IOC after the East German women showed up at the 1976 Olympics looking like men and dominating in the pool less than two months after getting blown away at the world championships? Where was the outcry to ban throwing events in track and field? Where is the outcry to ban sprinting when sprinters and hurdlers, year after year, let alone Olympics after Olympics, are stripped of their standing for using performance-enhancing drugs?
Athletes from every corner of the world, in every sport continue to get caught using PEDs, yet former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) head Dick Pound talks of banning cycling. Cycling doesn’t carry the worldwide financial clout of track and field, nor does it carry the same prestige or number of medals as swimming. Pound’s assertion that the IOC should remove cycling from the Games is like saying the NFL should remove helmets and shoulder pads to prevent players from using their heads as weapons. PEDs aren’t just a cycling problem, they’re a sports problem.