Lance Armstrong's interview

Evgeny.Makarov

Well-known member
MHB Math Scholar
On the eve of the 100th Tour de France Lance Armstrong gave an exclusive interview to the French newspaper Le Monde. In it, he said: "It is impossible to win Tour de France without doping. Because the race is a test of endurance, where oxygen is decisive".

This statement reminded me another article I saw a long time ago, which said something like, "If there is the youngest river boat captain in this country, it must be ...". Guess what? The set of captain's ages is well-ordered because the order is total and the set is finite. Therefore, if the set of river boat captains in this country is nonempty, then there exists a captain with the smallest age. Now, there is a possibility that there is more than one captain with exactly the same age. However, if ages are measured in hours and minutes and not just days, this is very unlikely. And if by "younger" we mean a non-strict, i.e., reflexive, relation, then this does not even matter. So, there does indeed exist the youngest captain.

Another article that comes to mind is from the wonderful Russian mathematical magazine "Quantum". It talked about another record in a 100 meters dash. All sport commentators were excited and asked: "Is there a limit to human capabilities?" "Poor commentators", said the magazine. "They did not know the monotone convergence theorem!"

Going back to the Armstrong's interview, I am wondering about the precise meaning of that statement. Surely he did not mean that if nobody uses doping, there would be no winner in Tour de France. Then what exactly did he mean, in your opinion?

Bacterius

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
[JUSTIFY]No, obviously there is always a winner. He is simply asserting that you are putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don't dope yourself, because at least one other person will. In other words, your probability of winning is severely reduced if you do not dope yourself, perhaps to such an extent that competing at all is no longer worth the effort.

Just so it's clear, I neither condone nor condemn doping. I just think this is what he meant.[/JUSTIFY]

Jameson

Staff member
The way Lance worded his statement was a bit strange but I'm pretty sure the meaning of it was something along the lines of all the top riders dope so not doping would take yourself out of the race. Pretty much what Bacterius said. From what I understand, EPO (one of the main performance enhancing drugs used by cyclists) wasn't tested until around 2000 so riders of the 90's all used it extensively. After it became detectable other oxygen-boosting drugs have been consistently used.

Evgeny.Makarov

Well-known member
MHB Math Scholar
I agree with you both. The only other interpretation that comes to mind is something as follows. "If nobody uses doping, then, since the level of many top athletes is so similar and so close to the maximum, the winner would be essentially random. No amount of preparation would give you a substantial increase in the chance to win". If this is so, then the race would arguably be more fun for spectators. However, I think this interpretation is less likely.

hmmm16

Member
I really don't think that is what he is saying, also if that was what he was saying wouldn't you just apply the same logic to the group of players who were doping?