Thursday, July 26, 2007


I watched the 16th stage of the Tour de France yesterday and even though I'm not fanatically supporting any of the riders it was really exciting. I still get why it's one of the worlds big sporting events.

Of course, all the news is about doping. At least this year they caught the leader before the end of the race, although we have to wonder about the other riders. The number of riders who are caught out after winning seems really high to me, which makes me wonder why they still do it. My guess is that so many people dope and are not caught that it's still worth it. Of course, being unable to present a winner with a straight face is devaluing the value of winning. But the costs are spread over everybody with a stake in the race, but the benefits go to successful dopers. My econ bloggers should be blogging about this; maybe I should send an e-mail or two.

If it were up to me I'd just allow the doping. Cyclists are already pretty freakish, I'd be pretty curious to see what they looked like after 15 years of hardcore drug abuse, gene therapy or whatever.

Caffeine is a temporary cognitive enhancement but banning it for exams seems weird. Nobody would care if War and Peace were written on caffeine; we're mainly interested in being able to take pleasure in the finished product.

I don't know how strict they are in tennis, but I'll bet there's more doping than we think.


Trevor said...


I had heard of runners taking pure oxygen just before a sprint being able to do the 100m in 8 seconds.

but then they die.

So... if a drug would win someone gold, but they would die before they reach the podium... would we allow it?

Then it would come down to, if you want to win... it will cost your life. I reckon many incredible athletes would say `No thanks' and quit.

stuart said...

this is a good libertarian purity test.

My inclination would be to allow it and I'd be surprised if many athletes chose the oxygen death option, though many would surely choose very damaging paths.

Maybe some promoters would start up alternative competitions banning various drugs (but not all), maybe a different equilibrium would arise.