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Ethics in cycling?

The Clinic is the only place on Cyclingnews where you can discuss doping-related issues. Ask questions, discuss positives or improvements to procedures.

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01 Jun 2018 20:56

I'd have to say the only truly clean (Cat C) riders are domestiques and very possibly not on WT teams. I do think it's possible they are at the Pro Conti level. I'd like to think the majority of riders at the WT level are in cat B level as part of the peloton is cleaner (not clean) than it was in the earlier part of the 2000's when had the Ferrari scandal, then Operation Puerto, and everything around Lance and US Postal break open.

Personally I prefer a team like Astana who just ignores everything than a team like Sky that claims to be clean and you know they are just as bad as Astana is.

As for ethics I think the only ethics involved is: Am I willing to dope to be at the top level. If the answer to that is yes, the next question becomes how much am I willing to do, only enough to be a domestique or am I willing to go further to hope to become a star? This is up to each individual, although you'd think actual talent of a specific person would also come into play in this as well.
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Re: Ethics in cycling?

02 Jun 2018 05:08

samhocking wrote:I'm saying the ethical line for most athletes and teams will simply be decided based on what is legal and what is not according to WADA rules. i.e. the rules decide what is right and wrong for them, not their own personal ethical opinion. If Caffeine was banned tomorrow, many athletes would stop taking caffeine. If you asked them why, they would say because it's illegal. If you asked them what's wrong with taking illegal substances, they would say it was wrong to do that. Something being wrong is therefore now unethical even though before it was ethical for the same substance and athlete.


This makes more sense, although I don't think every athlete is quite as simple in determining what they would consider to be ethical or not as this would suggest. The objective ethical line sits with the legal definitions, while the subjective can either be more strident, e.g. a rider like Wellens who refuses to use TUEs in competition or one like Bassons who documented his struggles over what strictly non-illegal products and methods he felt comfortable using; or less, as in riders like Armstrong who have attempted to justify to themselves and others that their doping is at least fair, if not ethical, because nearly everyone else does it too.
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Re: Ethics in cycling?

02 Jun 2018 16:02

samhocking wrote:At a doping level, ethics are not involved whatsoever in sport. Doping is purely a legal matter of rules for riders, teams, UCI & WADA.
There are simply two categories of rider. Those using 1. Legal performance enhancement and those 2. Illegal performance enhancement. Anything ethical that goes beyond what is legal and into ethics is simply personal ethics outside the rules of anti-doping.

Hey Sam, I meant to reply to this, but trying to squeeze work in between posting is tough! :lol:

On the doping topic I think that there are two levels of ethics involved: choosing to cheat or not, and choosing to follow the laws or not. If a racer finds the laws forced on them/stupid/etc. its easy (er) for them to ignore them. Much like if they feel that everyone else is doping, its easy (er) for them to do the same.

Speaking for myself, when I raced professionally I never read the laws because I was a bread and water racer. I wouldn't have ever considered doping because if I would have drastically improved or even won a big race, I would never feel good about it, in fact I would feel really bad. I used to feel guilty winning a local/regional race because I knew that I wasn't working a 9 to 5 like other guys in the field (but that was gas money to the next national for me). I also feel fortunate that doping really didn't flood USA dirt until I was at the end of being a bike bum.

So I guess we could discuss semantics: ethics, morals, principles, standards, values, conscience...but IMO doping isn't ethical on a legal or sporting level. BUT, I really enjoy watching NFL games knowing full well that most of them enhancing their performance so that opens another can of worms! :eek:
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02 Jun 2018 17:22

From a moral perspective I feel there are 4 categories.

Cat A: Riders who knowingly use banned substances to enhance their performance. With or without UCI clearance.


Cat B: Riders who game the system through TUE abuse. I.E a rider who has cache with the UCI and is given a prescription for corticosteroids he doesn't truly need. This is a grey area as they're not explicitly breaking any rules; however the general consensus amongst cycling fans is that the behavior is immoral and unsporting.

Cat C: Riders who do not break sanctions, but use performance enhancing substances within allowable limits. I.e a rider who takes a few puffs on an inhaler and downs caffeine pills and painkillers before riding an ITT.


Cat D: Riders who ride stone cold pan y agua. I believe these are virtually non-existent at the world tour level.

In the categories the OP listed I feel there is no moral distinction between low-octane and full-retard dopers. Once you use blood-bags, EPO, or the myriad of other illegal substances that comprise a doping program you've crossed the line. A rider who crosses this line may curtail doping due to risk of testing positive. However, this is not an issue of morality, rather an assessment of risk-reward.

As Lance Armstrong put it, "only choads dope half-ass!"
Last edited by Amazinmets87 on 02 Jun 2018 19:13, edited 2 times in total.
Amazinmets87
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Re: Ethics in cycling?

02 Jun 2018 18:01

When it comes to doping and ethics there is just a single line. You either cross it or you don't.

Nobody ever decided to dope just a little, just to get a bit better but not too good.

The consequences of getting busted for say a little Epo, are exactly the same as getting busted for a full epo/test/hgh programme.

So when you're over that line it's not about ethics, it's about balls and resources.

Have you got the balls to push the limits and face the consequences, and have you got the resources to do it properly.
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03 Jun 2018 19:46

Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.
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Re:

03 Jun 2018 23:35

samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.
User avatar The Hegelian
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Re: Re:

04 Jun 2018 14:14

The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.

Psychological egoism is an old theory that even Freud challenged. When life was just about staying alive, maybe it was a good theory, but modern life is more complex. Also, its a 'black and white', 'only one', theory. If I buy pizza for a homeless person I certainly feel good about it, but maybe my motivation was to help this guy out too. Making someone else feel good, makes us feel good. The ego theories all seem to exist in a bubble. I'll leave it at that, because I am maxing out my psych 101 knowledge! :lol:

I believe that its argued that all people are egocentric to some level, maybe professional athletes are at the upper end of that scale so they only see their winning/their reward.
jmdirt
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05 Jun 2018 01:28

Well yes, psychological egoism as a coherent moral theory was demolished in the 17th century by Bishop Butler - I can't really think of any modern moral philosophers who defend it. That's why I wouldn't want to lean on those kind of arguments for doping in the peloton.

My own opinion is that pro-cyclists face the same kind of problem we all face: namely, the economic system forces a choice between material well being and living in accord with one's freely chosen moral values. i.e. the choice to dope is often not really about glory, fame, winning etc, but simply about doing what is necessary to succeed (which means: get paid) in one's chosen profession.
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Re: Re:

05 Jun 2018 05:04

The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.


I'm not proposing anything. For the majority, their morals and ethics are constrained within a legal set of rules. Drive faster than 30mph in a 30mph you get a fine and points if caught. Illegally dope in sports you get a fine and a ban. All I'm saying is, many don't ethically decide what speed they should drive, they look at the sign and it tells them what speed to drive, same with legal performance enhancement. If WADA allow you to use Corticosteroids legally out of competition, some will use it and feel they are ethically correct. Some won't and feel they are ethically correct, bit both still legally race their bikes.
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05 Jun 2018 08:15

It's just rebranding same old: Pan y aqua, low octane, high octane.
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Re: Re:

05 Jun 2018 09:29

samhocking wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.


I'm not proposing anything. For the majority, their morals and ethics are constrained within a legal set of rules. Drive faster than 30mph in a 30mph you get a fine and points if caught. Illegally dope in sports you get a fine and a ban. All I'm saying is, many don't ethically decide what speed they should drive, they look at the sign and it tells them what speed to drive, same with legal performance enhancement. If WADA allow you to use Corticosteroids legally out of competition, some will use it and feel they are ethically correct. Some won't and feel they are ethically correct, bit both still legally race their bikes.


And you want to hold a moral equivalence between the former and the latter? i.e between those who subordinate all moral value strictly to what the rules state, and those who can distinguish between legality and morality?

The slippage between ethically correct and legally correct is not justified in my opinion.

Two drivers drive at 30mph. A drives simply obeying all the rules. B obeys the rules, but also has concern for other drivers, is very cautious passing cyclists, lets people in, waves cordially etc.

B is morally superior. Categorically.
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Re: Re:

05 Jun 2018 11:01

The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.


I'm not proposing anything. For the majority, their morals and ethics are constrained within a legal set of rules. Drive faster than 30mph in a 30mph you get a fine and points if caught. Illegally dope in sports you get a fine and a ban. All I'm saying is, many don't ethically decide what speed they should drive, they look at the sign and it tells them what speed to drive, same with legal performance enhancement. If WADA allow you to use Corticosteroids legally out of competition, some will use it and feel they are ethically correct. Some won't and feel they are ethically correct, bit both still legally race their bikes.


And you want to hold a moral equivalence between the former and the latter? i.e between those who subordinate all moral value strictly to what the rules state, and those who can distinguish between legality and morality?

The slippage between ethically correct and legally correct is not justified in my opinion.

Two drivers drive at 30mph. A drives simply obeying all the rules. B obeys the rules, but also has concern for other drivers, is very cautious passing cyclists, lets people in, waves cordially etc.

B is morally superior. Categorically.


Driver C is aware that NCCC (ACPO) guidelines are that no action will be taken if he drives at 10% + 2mph over the speed limit. He drives at 35mph. He also has concern for other drivers, is very cautious passing cyclists etc.
Last edited by Mayo from Mayo on 05 Jun 2018 11:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Re:

05 Jun 2018 11:06

The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.


I'm not proposing anything. For the majority, their morals and ethics are constrained within a legal set of rules. Drive faster than 30mph in a 30mph you get a fine and points if caught. Illegally dope in sports you get a fine and a ban. All I'm saying is, many don't ethically decide what speed they should drive, they look at the sign and it tells them what speed to drive, same with legal performance enhancement. If WADA allow you to use Corticosteroids legally out of competition, some will use it and feel they are ethically correct. Some won't and feel they are ethically correct, bit both still legally race their bikes.


And you want to hold a moral equivalence between the former and the latter? i.e between those who subordinate all moral value strictly to what the rules state, and those who can distinguish between legality and morality?

The slippage between ethically correct and legally correct is not justified in my opinion.

Two drivers drive at 30mph. A drives simply obeying all the rules. B obeys the rules, but also has concern for other drivers, is very cautious passing cyclists, lets people in, waves cordially etc.

B is morally superior. Categorically.


a) is Driver A 'rat ****' or a pretty close second to morally superior Driver B?
b) once driver Driver B parks ... waves at the neighbors ... he 'could' lay a slap on his wife, right? Just sayin.
c) What kind of leverage, intervention, sanction, hard look would you be looking for ... if you were successful in establishing Sky an an Ethically/Morally bereft pro sports team?
Alpe73
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Re: Re:

05 Jun 2018 12:22

Alpe73 wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:
The Hegelian wrote:
samhocking wrote:Good points. I'm not saying doping can ever be ethical, simply if what you are doing/taking is legal, for many that is ethical-enough to do it, because the rules decide it for you.
There is obviously a grey area, but it's a pretty small window of very few substances and methods around substances allowed out of competition and a few that can be used within threshold or TUE.
Obviously Wellens refusing a TUE despite his team doctor saying he was allowed to take it is going deeply into personal ethics. I would argue Wellens was perhaps more fearful of being seen like Wiggins despite his condition justifying corticosteroids than effects of Corticosteroids on performance. He did say the reason was, he didn't want to be seen like Wiggins even though he was allowed to take it.


You seem to proposing a position in moral philosophy called psychological egoism. Which basically means, everyone is always acting out of self-interest, even when it appears that they are acting altruistically or for the greater good or for some higher principle etc.

i.e. you give money to a homeless person because it gives you pleasure to help. That is, your feeling of gaining pleasure is the driving force behind the moral action.


I'm not proposing anything. For the majority, their morals and ethics are constrained within a legal set of rules. Drive faster than 30mph in a 30mph you get a fine and points if caught. Illegally dope in sports you get a fine and a ban. All I'm saying is, many don't ethically decide what speed they should drive, they look at the sign and it tells them what speed to drive, same with legal performance enhancement. If WADA allow you to use Corticosteroids legally out of competition, some will use it and feel they are ethically correct. Some won't and feel they are ethically correct, bit both still legally race their bikes.


And you want to hold a moral equivalence between the former and the latter? i.e between those who subordinate all moral value strictly to what the rules state, and those who can distinguish between legality and morality?

The slippage between ethically correct and legally correct is not justified in my opinion.

Two drivers drive at 30mph. A drives simply obeying all the rules. B obeys the rules, but also has concern for other drivers, is very cautious passing cyclists, lets people in, waves cordially etc.

B is morally superior. Categorically.


a) is Driver A 'rat ****' or a pretty close second to morally superior Driver B?
b) once driver Driver B parks ... waves at the neighbors ... he 'could' lay a slap on his wife, right? Just sayin.
c) What kind of leverage, intervention, sanction, hard look would you be looking for ... if you were successful in establishing Sky an an Ethically/Morally bereft pro sports team?


You're both missing the point. Doping or not is a legal matter. Driving faster than 30mphn or not is a legal matter. As long as you're not wrecklessy driving, it doesn't matter if you let an old lady out in traffic or are the best driver in the world. All that matters is did you drive above 30mph. Therefore in terms of a penalty, the driver that is abusive to other road users and is never cautious receives the same penalty as the best driver in the world if the speed camera reads over 30mph with whatever adjustment value allowed. WADA is a speed camera. Ethics are not used to decide if doping is illegal or not, what's in your Blood or urine is, your bio passport and wherabouts.

For me, there is no ethics involved if you are illegally doping. It's against the rules. Ethics are only involved when you want to do more than rules require. I would argue it's not even up to riders or teams to decide what should be done above the rules, we have two world governing body of the sport and Anti-doping that should spearhead rules based on ethics though perhaps for the benefit of the sport in a wider context than simply catching illegal dopers
Last edited by samhocking on 05 Jun 2018 12:40, edited 1 time in total.
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05 Jun 2018 12:40

The idea that someones ethics would be determined by what they can or can't do according to the law is, I must admit, a particularly troubling viewpoint to me. It is completely the wrong way around.

It's also, as far as I'm aware, generally wrong. While ethics inform lawmakers, they are separate. A simple example is the nine alignments in Dungeons and Dragons, where characters can be both good and evil while still being lawful.
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Re:

05 Jun 2018 12:43

King Boonen wrote:The idea that someones ethics would be determined by what they can or can't do according to the law is, I must admit, a particularly troubling viewpoint to me. It is completely the wrong way around.

It's also, as far as I'm aware, generally wrong. While ethics inform lawmakers, they are separate. A simple example is the nine alignments in Dungeons and Dragons, where characters can be both good and evil while still being lawful.


I totally agree, but unfortunately doping is always a legal matter in terms of who is doing something wrong or not wrong. It cannot be another way unfortubatly. It doesn't prevent personal ethics being applied however. Clearly WADA can use ethical reasoning to decide if eg TUEs should be allowed or not. I would say it isn't the teams or riders jobs to circumvent or navigate beyond what the rules require though. They are there to ride as fast as possible legally and illegally if that is what they want to do.
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Re: Re:

05 Jun 2018 12:56

samhocking wrote:
King Boonen wrote:The idea that someones ethics would be determined by what they can or can't do according to the law is, I must admit, a particularly troubling viewpoint to me. It is completely the wrong way around.

It's also, as far as I'm aware, generally wrong. While ethics inform lawmakers, they are separate. A simple example is the nine alignments in Dungeons and Dragons, where characters can be both good and evil while still being lawful.


I totally agree, but unfortunately doping is always a legal matter in terms of who is doing something wrong or not wrong. It cannot be another way unfortubatly. It doesn't prevent personal ethics being applied however. Clearly WADA can use ethical reasoning to decide if eg TUEs should be allowed or not. I would say it isn't the teams or riders jobs to circumvent or navigate beyond what the rules require though. They are there to ride as fast as possible legally and illegally if that is what they want to do.

Why are you trying to change the nature of the discussion? The OP is not referring to sanctions or the anti-doping code. They are not trying to argue that ethics should in some way affect decisions about doping cases. They want to have a discussion about where people stand on the ethical issues of doping in cycling.

If I'm wrong then they can correct me but I see no reason to turn this into another argument about the definitions of laws and their limits.
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User avatar King Boonen
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05 Jun 2018 15:33

I believe I am completely in line with nature of OP discussion. The discussion is putting forward different ethical categories which is fine. You can class athletes into ethical categories, but in terms of WADA, doping is never an ethical issue, it is one based in rules on what would be illegal and legal to be in your body or you do or not do. Even the ethics of eg applying for a TUE under false pretences of performance enhancement would be decided using rules of evidence of therapeutic need not ethics directly.
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05 Jun 2018 15:56

Again, the OP never mentioned WADA. In fact, I see the OP has already pointed out to you that they are not wanting to discuss the rules:

Sam, you've rather missed my point. I'm not debating what is and isn't doping. I accept that the laws are the ultimate arbiter of this, and must be so. What I'm asking is, in the context of pro sport, and pro cycling in particular, is there an objective ethics around the decision to dope or not, or between one 'level' or method of doping and another? Is exploiting the TUE system, or taking controlled products for pure performance rather than illness reasons, also objectively unethical, or is it just smart of even common sense in the context of ruthless competition and financial imperative, or ethical simply because it's legal?


It seems clear to me they want to have a discussion about whether people think that riders, teams etc. are guided by different ethical perspectives in deciding whether to dope and how to dope. Again, why are you trying to turn this into a discussion about the laws and application of those laws?
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