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PED Op-Ed

Zach Smith, Copy Editor - February 13, 2013

Former power-hitting outfielder Jose Canseco—at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds during his playing career—was the face of performance enhancing drug use among professional athletes, and the walking embodiment of Major League Baseball’s “Steroid Era.”

But there’s a new breed of PED users afoot, and leading the way is Lance Armstrong, a 5-9, 165-pound, spandex-clad cyclist.

“My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike, but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw,” Armstrong said in his interview last month with Oprah Winfrey. “That desire, that attitude, that arrogance.”

Armstrong’s guilt had already been determined by a United States anti-doping agency investigation released last June. As a result, the disgraced cyclist was exiled from his cancer charity Livestrong and stripped of his record seven consecutive Tour de France titles and Olympic bronze medal.

He had nothing left to lose, and it wasn’t needed for the USADA investigation, but Armstrong’s admission did accomplish at least one thing: it forever changed public perception of PED users, casting a shadow of doubt over the entire sports world.

Gone are the days of typecasting PED users as muscle-bound specimens crushing 400-foot homeruns with ease.

Armstrong’s admission ushers in an age of suspicion in sports, where surreptitious practices like blood doping and synthetic testosterone make every athlete, regardless of the sport, a potential PED user.

The Armstrong revelation proves there are ways to circumvent the system. And when these loopholes are discovered, they’ll be exploited.

After all, Lance Armstrong did it.

The philanthropist, who generated millions of dollars for cancer research, cheated. The inspiration, who overcame stage-three testicular cancer to reach the pinnacle of his profession, lied. The legend, who single-handedly integrated cycling into the fabric of American culture, was a fake.

“I know the truth. The truth isn’t what was out there. The truth isn’t what I said, and now it’s gone -- this story was so perfect for so long,” Armstrong said to Winfrey. “And then the ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people who support me and believed in me, and they got lied to.”

Brace yourself for the impending wave of PED scandals looming over the sports world.
Prepare for the cast of unlikely methods and characters—such as former No. 1 golfer Vijay Singh using deer antler spray—that get caught up this wave. But most of all, get ready for the excuses—those should be good.

“I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat, and the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don’t have,” Armstrong said to Winfrey. “I didn’t view it that way.”



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