There are obviously good drugs and bad drugs, this much we know. But what's the difference in the people who take them?
With all the talk recently about Lance Armstrong and his performance enhancing drugs program and then more recently the tragic news, that London Marathon runner Claire Squires had unwittingly taken a now banned substance, what makes them different? More importantly what makes the likes of Lance Armstrong's drug use different from the drugs I take twice a day and unexpectedly, what makes us the same?
Well the answer to how we're the same comes where we both take drugs to make us better and to allow us to use cycling to raise awareness of a common medical condition. But that's where the similarities stop.
What makes me angry is that, far from the medication I take making me a better rider, it actually makes me a worse rider. What my medication does is make me a safer rider and quite frankly allow me to have the confidence to ride my bike at all. The Oxcarbazepine I take is, if anything, performance de-hancing and so I just have to train harder than I would if I wasn't on my medication.
What Lance Armstrong would class as his daily drugs, not only made him a better rider, but it also made him a more dangerous rider. After recovering from Cancer, it's incredible to think someone would so willingly put themselves and others in danger. The kind of danger which all too tragically showed it's face when Claire Squires died in last year's London Marathon after unwittingly taking a now banned substance.
The more important question here though is not necessarily if these drugs make us better or worse riders, but does our choice in taking them make other people like me better 'cyclists' than the likes of Lance? Here I'm defining a good cyclist as someone who is respectful, responsible and has a love for the sport.
I whole heartedly agree with Lance Armstrong's life-time ban from sanctioned sport. As a RAAM rider, past and future, I know that many Ironman athletes take on the race. Not only do I not agree with RAAM's lack of dope testing during the race, for safety reasons more than anything else, but if Mr. Armstrong were to take a fancy to riding it, I would be absolutely furious.
The reason I say that is two fold.
Firstly I hate people who cheat. I always have far more respect for someone who tried their heart out to achieve something and failed, than someone who cheated to achieve anything.
Secondly and potentially more importantly, science has shown that dopers have a long term advantage from their drug taking activities even after they've stopped taking performance enhancing drugs. So it's simply not fair to allow athletes who have so comprehensively doped, to compete against individuals who, like myself, probably wouldn't know the first thing about how to do it properly, never mind actually try it.
I believe honesty gets you far further in life.
The reason I feel like I didn't deserve to carry the Olympic Flame yet, is because I don't feel I've achieved my goals in relation to making a point about my epilepsy. It's a conscience thing with myself that pushes me and motivates me to achieve my goals with Team Epilepsy Forward.
At the end of the day, there's one person you can never truly lie to.