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Sanctimonious BS of the Day

And today's award goes to Cycle Sport editor Robert Garbutt. His crimes can be found in the page 4 editorial of the latest issue of a magazine which didn't used to be so silly.

[Regarding the T-Mobile reorganization] It's a fundamental change of policy with the realization that winning at all costs just wasn't worth it.

I don't see T-Mobile's laudable changes as a simplistic reflection of their pangs of conscience. I see it as a practical response to a threat that might devour the sport in which they've invested so heavily. Garbutt's reaction seem rather naive. Anyway, it gets worse...

On the flip...

Our bad news is centered on the Vuelta.... How unfortunate then that [Floyd Landis] decided to visit his former teammates at the race in Madrid. he really so naive to think that his presence would not have negative connotations?

Translation: you're a pariah, Floyd; stay locked in your root cellar. Count Garbutt as another "guilty til proven innocent" advocate. Is the teaching of civics so bad in this country that entire generations could be unaware of the constitution?

Garbutt then rants about Saiz showing up (I'll plead the 5th here) and about Vino missing a drug check on the morning of a stage when the testers showed up late. The latter is ridiculous; should riders be presumed to have doped and by luck the testers showed up late, allowing them to use the excuse and flee a test? Often times, things are as simple as they appear. IMHO Garbutt's suspicion ranks up there with the people who think the FBI blew up the World Trade Center.

And, of course, the kicker:

You can show your support for drug free sport by wearing the "I support drug free sport" wristband, which we're giving away with this issue.

Now, I could have said here, why should I wear your little marketing device under the guise of a puritanical campaign? But I'm not actually all that cynical. I think Garbutt is trying to peddle the anti-drug movement, not merely his magazine. So instead, I'll say... what possible fucking good does it do to pass around wristbands?!? I lived in DC for a while, where I had ample opportunity to tilt at windmills on a regular basis, as part of a symbolic gesture on behalf of one POV or another. It's pretty rare where a major issue is decided by someone who pays attention to symbolic gestures... did the marches stop globalization? Iraq? NAFTA? Bush's inauguration? Abortion? pick your cause, left, center or right, and you can find plenty of instances where the matter went forward on the basis of something other than public opinion.

So rather than getting political, my point is that these kinds of gestures are often pretty ineffectual. But this is worse, because everyone is already for drug free sport! Not only is anyone unlikely to hear Garbutt's message, they absolutely have no need whatsoever to hear it. Fans and sponsors have been registering their disgust with doping for years, the riders don't particularly enjoy doping, blady blah. Whose minds does Garbutt think he can change? Doping happens because of lack of scruples, lack of enforcement, and the sport's perverse incentives... NOT because anyone thinks society approves.

Garbutt is trying to insert himself (and maybe his magazine) into the conversation on doping, but it's a truly misguided effort. The people who need to be having the conversation are the riders, organizers, UCI, etc., and by all appearances they are trying to do so, however clumsily. So CS's wristband effort seems like an inappropriate attention-grabbing gimmick... and maybe not so uncynical after all.