My latest column for Wired News is live. I start off by discussing the rumors surround Lance Armstrong, and the story published by L'Equipe earlier this month.
The opinion you form after digesting all this information is more a Rorschach test than anything else. If you're inclined to believe that Armstrong doped, these test results can serve as confirmation. If you're inclined to believe his denials, they're further proof of a vendetta against Armstrong by the French.
But what the situation really points out is the futility of the drug-testing regime in place today. New drugs appear all the time, leaving testers playing a never-ending game of catch-up. Athletes find themselves smeared by innuendo. Rumor and recrimination are the order of the day.
One thing we can be sure of: The technology of athletes who want to cheat will always outpace that of those people charged with catching them. Is there another way?
I ended up arguing, at least guardedly, that maybe we should just give up on trying to win this arms race. I was surprised to find myself coming around to this position--it was one of those pieces that as you write it, you end up in a very different place than you expected.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone who has read it has agreed, or been convinced. I'm not even sure I am, 100%. But I am sure of one thing; it's how I ended the column:
Athletes will always do what they can to find an edge, even if it endangers their health. And people will always thrill to the performance of these elite athletes. Until one of those things changes, the debate, and the uncertainty, will continue.