Doping in the peloton vs. speeding in traffic

The unwritten rule of doping in the peloton is similar to the unwritten rule of speeding of traffic - that which is undiscovered by the authorities, or to which the authorities look away, is acceptable.

You can normally pass a police officer going 49 in a 45 without fear of consequences because the unwritten rule is that 49 in a 45 is acceptable. Same with hematocrit levels. Everyone knows 49 is "too high", but is understood per the unwritten rule to be never-the-less acceptable.

There are also stretches of highway where there is no place for the police to catch speeders. The unwritten rule is that in those stretches, when the coast is clear, almost any speed is acceptable. The same reasoning applies to undetectable doping methods.

Those are the real rules by which many people actually behave, whether driving on highways or racing in the peloton. If you try your best to abide by those rules but get caught anyway, that's just bad luck (whether you're Tyler, Floyd, Ullrich, Basso, etc., or a poor schmo nailed for speeding by a police helicopter on a remote highway).

Just like never getting a speeding ticket doesn't mean you never speed, never testing positive doesn't mean you never use PEDs. But it does indicate that you're sufficiently careful to not get caught, which should count for something. It does with auto insurance companies who of course don't discriminate between those who never speed and those who speed but never get caught.

The thing is, if you do speed and you get caught, no matter how you get caught, it's fair game, because you were speeding. Same with doping. Ullrich only got caught because someone was sloppy with incriminating blood bags. If Lance gets caught because Floyd broke omerta, oh well, that's fair game too.