The Paradox of Doping in Mountain Climbing
We’re usually comfortable deciding whether or not an athlete is doping. Lance Armstrong was definitely doping by using erythropoietin. Tennis player Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, was definitely not doping when he slept in an egg-shaped barometric chamber. We tell one from the other by a kind of cultural gestalt, sorting out those who dope and those who don’t. Then we take that one step farther and reason: Those who don’t, compete cleanly—those that do, cheat. But what if a substance is both performance-enhancing and a benefit to an athlete’s health? What if that substance is oxygen?