OPINION: Today's frequently asked questions have yet to be sent in by alert readers.
FAQ: My son, "Jason" (real name withheld), is showing promise as a cyclist. When would be the best time to start him on a programme of performance-enhancing drugs? Also when should we remove his trainer wheels?
Most parents follow the old Jesuit advice: inject a child till he's 7 and you probably won't be caught. So start now and with the lax testing regime in primary school sport, "Jason" should soon be winning races, entitling you to jump up and down at the finish line shouting, "Way to go, Jase". The psychological scars your behaviour causes can be dealt with after your son has made the family rich and published a best-selling, ghost-written, sports autobiography. As for the trainer wheels: relax. "Jason" will snap them off with his bare hands when he's good and ready.
FAQ: Is there any truth in the rumour that Lance Armstrong's best-selling, ghost-written, sports autobiography is called It's Not About The Bike? If so, is it possible to come up with a more ironically entitled work of literature?
Difficult - not impossible. I'm working on it.
FAQ: I travelled to France seven times to support Lance Armstrong in the Tour. I was the guy dressed in the Stars and Stripes who would run in front of him on the steep bits shouting, "USA USA" until I ran out of breath or was forced off the road by a policeman on a motorbike. Now I'm feeling a bit of a dork.
What would you advise?
I am puzzled by your use of "now", and "feeling a bit of". But to take your mind off it all, why not immerse yourself in a good book, such as Coherence and Co-operation: The Way Ahead by W Peters.
FAQ: Is that the best you can come up with?
I hope not.
FAQ: Do you think the Armstrong revelations will put an end to drug cheating in professional sport?
Almost certainly. Drug testers receive a moderate salary and are imbued with a sense of fair play. These are powerful motivators. But the poor athletes stand to gain nothing except medals, fame, wealth, glory, adulation, public-speaking opportunities and the chance to market a ghost-written, best-selling, sports autobiography such as Golf Is My Only Mistress by Woods T. It's no contest.
FAQ: I am a 23-stone fan of televised sport. There are now five sports channels on Sky, including one that is dedicated to rugby 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Do we live in blessed times or what?
On balance, what.
That wasn't my FAQ. I wanted to point out that the Olympic motto is Faster, Higher, Stronger. And no-one has contributed more to that lofty ideal than the pharmaceutical industry. Surely we haven't forgotten the glory days of the 70s, when the Russians and East Germans cooked up freaks to win medals. But how much credit went to the chemists (rhetorical FAQ)?
It's time to set aside the notion of sport as friendly rivalry between regions or nations. Sport today is a business. So let the businesses compete. It's already happening in motor racing and yachting, where the teams are called such things as Red Bull, Ferrari, Oracle and Emirates. So why not extend that to all sport? Let the giant pharmaceuticals compete to produce pharmaceutical giants.
It's the final of the Olympic shot put. The arena is crammed. Each competitor is led in on a leash, like a cattle beast at the A & P show. Holding the leash is a boffin in a lab coat who has dedicated the last four years of his life to creating his monster. The boffin acknowledges the gasps and applause of the crowd.
When the last competitor is led in, the share price of Armstrong Biologics immediately doubles. He has a chest like a grain silo, arms like beam engines. In his hand the shot put is a pea. The boffin climbs a step ladder and whispers in the giant's ear. The giant grunts and heaves the shot into the stands. Then he crumples and dies. The crowd roars in wonder and the beaming boffin bows, in acknowledgment of his achievement before trotting up to the podium to collect his medal. Who wouldn't pay good money to see that? That's my FAQ.
Oh, sorry. I was immersed in M Romney's excellent Rooting for the Poor.
FAQ: Isn't that one word too long?
- The Press