Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Andy is not starving. I am sure that he has a plethora of companies lining up to plaster his uniform with logos. This, however, is not only about how much money Andy earns, but also the return on investment by the companies that endorse him. They have also missed out on their chance to to pound their corporate chests and shout "we build winners!" Alas, the sponsors that are quietly trying to avoid the maelstrom of controversy surrounding their golden boy Contador have a lot to feel cheated about. It begs the question: Can the global corporations stop the cheating?
It's an interesting thought given the track records of the corporate universe and its penchant for moral ambiguity; however, the corporation can always be counted on to protect its own self-interests. In this case, corporations have the obligation to their share holders to take the high road on ethics. In an era of "occupy" movements, the last thing a corporation needs is more bad press. While the business world still clamors to back the winner by throwing cash at the sport elite, the laundry list of "morality" clauses splashing across the contracts is becoming ubiquitous. It is no doubt that this latest set-back will hurt Contador's pocketbook. So when it comes to cheating deterrents, does the drug testing or the financial repercussions reign supreme?
The easy cop-out is to say "well...you need both." True, you can't prevent cheating unless you are trying to catch the offenders. However, the drug testing implemented by various governing bodies has done little to limit the propensity of athletic deceit in sport. In the past, athletes risked little more than fifteen minutes of public humiliation. Today, on the contrary, athletes are forwarded millions of dollars by major sponsors with the expectation of superior athletic performance. We have already seen companies pull their sponsorship on several athletes citing morality clause issues (see Mr. Phelps, Ms. Jones). Thus, it is interesting to see the ability of the corporate sponsor to serve as the sharp end of the stick when it comes to policing athletic doping. A long term ban by regulatory agencies will inhibit an athlete's ability to earn money; however, being caught doping may force the athlete to repay monies earned. This could potentially have stronger overall implications on the athlete than losing the ability to earn.
It is only with a smirk and a roll of the eyes that I champion the thought that corporations could save a sport like cycling. The possibility does exist though that the business world could play a larger role. By being selective of the athlete they support and insuring that he or she is held accountable financially should their actions have a negative backlash against the company, could be enough of a deterrent to make an athlete think twice...
BC Race Review reminds you that there are thousands of age groupers that compete every weekend (dope free)!
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