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Friday, July 28, 2006

The Landis Case: Waiting for the B sample; Pereiro reluctantly poised to take jersey; Landis takes pass on Leno

The Landis Case: Waiting for the B sample; Pereiro reluctantly poised to take jersey; Landis takes pass on Leno

It's quite possible that Landis did take testosterone to boost his performance on stage 17. Professional cycling has had so many drug scandals in recent years that nothing can disappoint me anymore.

I have to say though, that perhaps it's simply because medical science hasn't done as much for boosting brain performance as it has on performance of the body that drugs aren't a common part of the workplace. Imagine, if you will, a drug that gave you a mental boost equivalent to that of anabolic steriods. One dose, and you could do 200 hour programming projects in 2 hours (Pengtoh and I once turned a 200 hour project into a 20 hour project by doing pair programming, so another order of magnitude isn't inconceivable). Would you, as a good programmer, take it if it meant widespread recognition, promotion, and millions of dollars? What if the drug cost you a year of your life? Or two years?

Imagine this scenario: everyone in your office is taking drugs. You're barely smart enough to hang on to your job, let alone get a promotion. You know the next bright kid who takes this mental enhancement drug (even at horrendous cost to his health) will be so smart that you won't have a prayer of hanging on to your current job. Would you continue to stay drug free? Would you find another career, even if this was the one you loved?

It's questions like this that convince me that perhaps I couldn't be that judgemental about the professionals who do performance enhancing drugs.

1 comment:

md said...

I suppose if everyone in cycling is taking drugs, it doesn't matter. I suppose it's possible that those guys who finished last were the ones who didn't take anything. In that case, I consider them more admirable than the ones who won.

I would never use performance-enhancing drugs because they are counter-productive to my goal - to have fun in physical activities, first and foremost, rather than to excel. This is not to say that I don't push myself, but if I push myself so hard that I'm forced to lay off for months or even suffer a lifelong debilitating injury, what't the point? Those problems can happen anyway, but why invite them? Anyway, I don't think I can relate to athletic competitors. I don't understand why they do what they do - compete at all costs.

I guess the same goes for a mental-performance enhancing drug. I've heard Ritalin can provide a performance boost by enhancing your focus. Probably coke and amphetamines have similar temporary benefits. No thanks, I'll stick with my brain as is. The potential downsides are too high, and if everyone else in the office is doing coke to excel, then I'll go farm potatoes.

My attitude is not completely consistent, though. I will engage in "risky" activities that I enjoy. I just won't engage in risky activities only for the competitive aspects. Maybe athletic competitors get that kind of thrill from the competition and that's why they do it.