By James Joiner
As hundreds of spandex superhero suited cyclists get ready to start the Tour de France this weekend, seven-time ex-victor and scorned Texan Lance Armstrong has decided to take a stand, telling France’s Le Monde newspaper that cycling’s most prestigious and grueling race is “impossible to win without doping.”
Armstrong, who has famously had his Tour victories erased from the annals of cycling history, wants to point out that doping is so widespread in the sport that he “just took part in the system.”
This may or may not be true.
What is true is that we now live in a culture that not only expects doping, but encourages it, even in day-to-day life.
So-called performance enhancing beverages featuring high-tech cocktails of potent (and often spurious) ingredients are the dominant space holder in convenience store coolers. The granddaddy of them all, Red Bull, has such a hold on action sport cultures like skateboarding and BMX they own their own magazine. You can get over-the-counter energy boosts in almost any form — from taurine-infused M&M knockoffs to Aeroshot caffeine mist to the Turbo Snort, a caffeinated nasal spray that provides up to “400 hours of energy” (?!). Let’s not forget the fun that is Four Loko, a caffeinated malt beverage the media vilified until bath salts came along and stole the “crazy over-the-counter substance” title. 5 Hour Energy, once viewed with the same sidelong looks as trucker speed, is now so ubiquitous that they sell it at some college bookstores.
We’re all Armstronging our way through the day.