What’s Viagra Got to Do With It?

Pro cycling has never had powerful, effective leaders. It’s something I cover in depth in the last chapter of Argyle Armada. Now, however, the Lance Armstrong implosion may be precipitating positive change, including the November, 2012 gathering of a summit in London that includes Jonathan Vaughters and John Hoberman, a fascinating professor from the University of Texas, Austin.

In this piece for VeloNews, I spoke with Hoberman about his 25 years of scholarship on doping in sports and society. Because he does not focus solely on pro cycling, Hoberman, 68, brings illuminating perspectives into our understanding of how our culture handles doping in sports.

For example, the fact that performance-enhancing drugs like Viagra have been seamlessly adapted into the fabric of our lives–and without stigma–affects how we judge athletes who cheat.

Hoberman was an expert consultant in the 2005 SCA Promotions lawsuit against Armstrong, and he also discusses how nationalism can compel national and intentional sports governing bodies to turn a blind eye to cheating.

Hoberman does not feel that more punitive measures are the answer to performance enhancing drugs in sports. Rather, he argues that the approach that a team like Garmin is taking–creating a team culture where doping is neither supported nor expected–is a more promising way forward.