The Doping Philosophy of Cyclist Christophe Bassons

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Cyclist Christophe Bassons has never used banned performance-enhancing drugs. This isn’t an unusual proclamation from a pro cyclist in a sport where cyclists continually deny using PEDs in spite of the evidence against them. However, Bassons is different in that many people actually believe him.

Some people may find his decision to avoid PEDs as admirable and even “courageous”. However, Bassons refuses to claim any sort of moral superiority because of his choice. He does not condemn cyclists such as Floyd Landis who have admitted using drugs such as testosterone and erythropoietin in their quest to win the Tour de France.

Bassons explains his non-judgmental doping philosophy to CyclingNews.com in a refreshingly candid and intelligent perspective on doping in cycling (“Bassons won’t judge Landis and Armstrong,” February 2).

“I don’t think I was courageous not to take drugs,” the former Festina, Française des Jeux and Jean Delatour rider told Cyclingnews.

“To me, courage is all about overcoming fear, and I was never scared. I was just lucky – I’d had a balanced upbringing, lots of love in my life, and no void which made me want to dope. Refusing to take drugs was easy for me, whereas other people have things missing in their lives which mean that’s not the case. Doping is always a response to a void, a need – whether it’s for money, or success, or love, or something else. That’s why it’s a mistake to fight the war on doping in terms of health – because, if you actually analyse it, doping responds to a need there too, because you can be healthier doing the Tour de France on drugs than without anything.”


“Everyone has their own sense of legitimate and illegitimate, which is different from what is licit and illicit. For example, I might think it’s legitimate to drive my car at 90kph in an 80kph zone, if me being late means that my son will walk out into the school playground and not see his dad. For Richard Virenque, doping was legitimate because, for some reason, he needed the love and admiration of the public. For some riders from Eastern Europe it’s legitimate because they need money for their families – which is hard to condemn. Or a teenager might take steroids and go to the gym to pump iron because he’s uncomfortable with his body. In that case, doping serves his need – it perpetuates it too, but as far as the kid is concerned it solves his particular problem…”

Bassons’ thoughtful response to the doping question tries to explain the context in which doping occurs in cycling and the motivations behind their use in the sport. Such a sociological perspective is refreshing because it refuses to view the issue as one that is black and white with participants that are good and bad.

Tour de France

Photo Credit: hada55 (Flickr)

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