A good chat with Justin Webb on the radio 4 Today program last Saturday. I was slightly surprised by his first question which seemed to imply that winning was not the only reason elite athletes took performance enhancing drugs. Perhaps it was just a function of their obsessive personality? I am not quite sure I got the answer (or the question) entirely right. But it got me thinking. Elite athletes don't just compete in competitions where winning is important. Some equally obsessive personalities who are just as fit compete in ultra endurance events* e.g. multi-day continuous marathons or triathlons, often in extreme conditions. These events are as much a competition against yourself as against the other athletes. There are limited financial benefits and the fame of winning is restricted to a small community. In this case taking drugs might seem to be cheating on yourself. Yet on the other hand there are limited drug tests to worry about. It might be interesting to know whether drug use is more or less prevalent in this community than in traditional Olympic sports.
* note that in my book I give reasons, based on evolutionary biology, why drug use may anyway be less effective in enhancing performance in these kind of events.