What Next for Sport After Cycling's Technology Doping Shame?

By Gary Cutlack on at

This weekend the group that monitors and operates much of the pro cycling world confirmed it had uncovered the first definite case of "technological fraud," with a rider in a cyclocross event found guilty of having an actual motor inside one of her bikes. Quotes from the rider's dad claim innocence, and that a bike exactly like his daughter's -- but with a motor in the crank -- was entirely innocently brought along to the event to be used as a spare.

This likely story will have those that made wild accusations about Chris Froome during his Tour de France wins saying "Aah, we told you so!" as more shameful evidence of the lengths sportspeople go to in order to win is unearthed. Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport has made some pretty wild new claims about pro cycling doping too, suggesting that €200,000 (£150k) wheels containing electromagnets are the current secret power source of choice among cheats, handing the rider a power boost of up to 60 watts.

We've previously had low-friction swimming costumes powering swimmers to new world records, and the bizarre practise of boosting -- deliberate self-harm -- powering paralympic athletes to better performances, proving that any advance, technical or medical, will be used to win.

So maybe we should have three leagues for all sports. A non-cheating league full of people who are tested and monitored -- the Human Classic Division, perhaps -- then a second Blind Eye League where anything goes and drugs are fine and the men all have acne and legs like railway sleepers. There could then be a third Tech League where athletes augmented by exoskeletons compete, with robot limbs launching high jumpers 25 metres into the air, cloaked drones capturing and powering the javelin, plus cyclists all making suspicious whining and chugging sounds as they top Mont Ventoux at 45mph. Google would almost certainly stump up the money to sponsor it all.

If we can't enjoy cheat-free sport, we might as well at least get some fun out of it by seeing how far the freaks can push their bodies. Some heads might actually explode, and as Formula 1 has proven, as long as the show is exciting we don't really mind if someone wins thanks to simply having the best technology behind them.

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