…we wouldn’t have any standards at all.
There is an Australian heuristic that rarely lets you down; when you are in doubt about what the correct position is to take on an issue, look to see whether Peter Fitzsimons has pontificated on it….and take the opposite side.
Last week, Australia’s polymath with a red bandana wrote this stirring attack on a disgraced Chinese swimmer:
Fast forward a week, and Fitzsimons is calling for sober heads, sympathy and the benefit of the doubt for an Australian swimmer who has tested positive for a banned substance:
Outside observers can see the double standards of his position before even investigating the underlying stories about Sun Yang and Shayna Jack.
Further research makes Fitzsimons seem even more tribal. Sun Yang smashed samples that had been taken by people who were unable to present the correct evidence of authority to do so, Shayna Jack tested positive for a banned substance. It’s unclear whether Jack’s testers had the correct paperwork.
The first is not a positive drug test result, the second is.
The risk/reward for athletes doping is not the same for every sport.
If we were to order rank those sports by how much impact doping would have on performance, the sports with the least reward for doping would be those with a higher relative reliance on technique, tactical excellence and teamwork.
Conversely, there would be a better risk/reward payoff to dope in the more purely physical sports where results are decided by marginal physiological differences such as in weightlifting, running, cycling and swimming.
An extra 1% efficiency in blood flow might not help a rugby player lift the World Cup trophy with his team but it could mean the difference between gold and silver for a swimmer at the Olympics.
I’ve recently realised my favourite sports are also coincidentally ones where doping is less likely to have a positive payback, sports where tactics play a large part in addition to physical performance and technique. This wasn’t a conscious choice but it is interesting that this self-sorting occurred.
On the subject of self-sorting, Fitzsimons does something similar when expressing public opinions: