Ben Johnson, BALCO, Festina: sport often learns the wrong lessons from doping scandals. It learnt that coming clean about your doping when caught screws you and leaves others just as dirty to win; that if you have the right drugs and advice you will only get caught if someone gives you up; and that all sporting entities learn from a scandal is that a repetition must be avoided at all costs.
What will we learn from the USADA case against Armstrong and associates? I fear we will learn that doping is about individuals and their personalities: about Armstrong, Hamilton, Landis, McQuaid and so on. Rather than questioning the structures of sport we will believe that if only the ‘right’ people are involved (Tygart, Novitsky, Bassons, Schenk, Pooley) everything will come good.
It isn’t that simple, and I hope the role of institutions in tolerating and facilitating will be questioned as heavily as the individual players’ personal flaws or strengths.