I rarely post on here, and I hadn't ever posted about doping or speculation about certain athletes until just now, but I'd like to make a case for reducing the amount of discussion and accusation around doping. As I touched on in another thread:
A failed drug test does not necessarily imply doping. A passed drug test certainly does not imply a lack of doping.
This is one of the few things about doping (resp. anti doping) that can be said with certainty. For much of the history of athletics, drug testing was crude to the point that it may as well have been non existent. The number of athletes found to have been doping that "never tested positive" is quite literally too long to write down over the course of an evening.
We also know that the biological passport didn't go into effect until 2009. Likewise, EPO testing was crude and whereabouts rules were effectively non existent. Even now, microdosing EPO and using blood transfusions would be quite easy to get away with. With no biological passport, anyone could easily maintain boosted blood values throughout an entire career. Even with the biological passport, one can still simply microdose their entire career and never raise a red flag.
Point being, I can't prove people that most people who never failed drug tests likely doped if they were at the pointy end of an endurance sport. Likewise, no one can prove that someone who has exclusively passed tests has never doped.
If we know something produces performance gains (if you want to disagree with this, I don't really know what to tell you. EPO, blood transfusions, and anabolics do enhance athletic performance), and we know many top athletes use them, we must probabilistically assume that the greatest athletes likely have used such measures to enhance performance. This, however, is my probabilistic assessment; it is not hard truth.
Ultimately, however, what good comes of the accusations and the nonstop arguments? I myself am a skeptic, as are many on this board. Many others like to believe that most top competitors are clean. It is entirely their right to do so.
The one thing we all probably have in common is that we like to witness greatness. Let us keep in mind that even the "doped" greats had incredible genetics, trained very hard, and had phenomenal racing acumen (for the most part). I don't think it should be so hard to let greatness be greatness, and enjoy sport for what it is.
To the skeptics: Why not let people who think most athletes are clean continue to do so? If it brings them joy, why try taking it away with condescension and name calling? It's no better than being a non-religious person and telling a devout believer that they're a moron and should seek truth in the form of science. Nothing good comes of it. You can be nice and skeptical at the same time.
To the optimists: Why try so hard to justify your claims, when to a large extent, they cannot be proven? Just don't engage with people who put you down because of your beliefs, and feel fortunate that you get to enjoy sport without any sort of cloud hanging over brilliant performances.
Apologies for the long winded post, I just think it would be awesome if the threads about training and racing didn't consistently divulge into a debate about doping. Rarely does anyone win the argument, and trying to change peoples fundamental beliefs on a running message board is, in my opinion, less optimal than focusing on everything else we all love about sport.