3/8/06

Of Justice and doping, it's in the eyes of the beholder.



I was going to write about my dad's own recollection of the motorcycle accident in St-Martin and the ugly racial connotation that it has taken . However, I figure that it will be more interesting to write about it after Sarkozy, the minister of homeland security, visit the policeman's family. The hot topic in US is the publication of a book that reveals what everyone suspected: Barry Bonds had steroids and Humane Growth Hormone for breakfast since 1998. (in spite of his own will , I am sure. Expect anytime the usual excuse " I told my personal chef that bovine testosterone does not go well with pancakes" ).

If you are not into baseball (I am only a casual fan), B. Bonds shattered almost all known baseball records. In baseball, peak of interests seems to be closely related to statistical milestones as numbers are the lifeline of the sports. The doping news should not come as a surprise to people watching Bonds because the size of his body and his head has grown exponentially in the last 5 years (see pictures, scary isn't it ?).
In the same manner, people in Europe have a sneaky feeling that Lance Armstrong amazing feats on the Tour de France were helped by top of the line enhancing drugs. The difference between them is that Barry Bonds, in spite of his achievements, is regarded as a pompous jerk whereas Lance Armstrong is close to semi-god status in the US (1/3 of US students wear the yellow “livestrong” wristband for the fight against cancer).
Here is my point about doping and its outcome: doping will be persecuted to its fullest only if the investigation does not hurt the sport. The Mariano Puerta (tennis player caught positive for steroids) of this world will be sacrificed because they have not meant much to their sport yet. If you ask people in the US, they see the attacks on Armstrong as a European bias who cannot bear to see an american succeed. Morevover, the attackers (mainly the newspaper L’equipe) should have known that the American cycling union would fight to death for Armstrong because without him, there is no interest in cycling in the US. So even though eveidence of Armstrong's guilt is almost undisputable, a technicality (age of sample and number of control) killed the case against him. Therefore Armstrong is still synonym with overachiever superhero and Bonds is a dope fine. (Don’t get me wrong, I think Armstrong and Bonds are phenomenal athletes with or without doping. We just will never know how phenomenal because of their obsession with pushing their limits beyond legitimate means.)

This brings up an interesting metaphor for the global world. Let’s imagine a nation that is on the verge of being an economic superpower, yet human rights violations and child labor are part of their success. This nation decides to invest in poorly developed nations, creates tons of jobs there, picking up the average quality of life of the locals in such ways that this superpower is synonymous with messiah over there. Would anyone from those countries believe or even ask about the human rights violations? They would probably assume or want to believe that it is fabricated news from other envious superpowers. I, for one, would not know for sure whether I would resent or embrace their help. ( This situation is hypothetical of course. Any resemblance with reality is purely coincidental, of course.)

The bottom line is, 1) fairness is perspective-dependent 2) universal justice is an utopian dream not worth pursuing. A reasonable goal is to attain a global equilibrium by having superpowers fight for sphere of influence and potential markets. The balance scale is currently a bit tilted by things are progressing.

Did I just draw a parallel between doping and world politics ? I think I really need to quit smoking peyote for breakfast. Anyhow, enjoy World Baseball Classic !

2 comments:

  1. A mediocre athlete who recovered from cancer and miraculously won five (or is it six) consecutive tours de France. Something smells fishy. But Americans like this type of success story. I don't like how Armstrong used the "French cannot stand me" card when he was suspected of doping. I could not believe my ears once when an American acquaintance was whining about the French being sore losers and asking me why the Tour de France was taking place in France anyway, that they should just move it here in the States...

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  2. It is very difficult to have a rational discussion about lance Armstrong here. I understand the whole "survivor-ironman" aura but for him to get a free pass on everything ( he seems to be a pretty mean teammate as well) is beyond me. At least they ought to aknowledge that it's suspicious.

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