Opinion: Should Riders Be Stopped? On Injuries, The Racer Mentality, And Macho Culture

Marc Marquez at the Andalusia round of MotoGP at Jerez, Photo Cormac Ryan-Meenan

Any fool could see that Marc Márquez coming back to race at the second race in Jerez, after breaking his arm in the first race, was a bad idea. The fact that he has had to have a second operation to replace the plate in his arm merely confirms this.

But MotoGP racers are no ordinary fools, of course. Like all elite athletes, they are driven to extraordinary lengths to compete, taking extraordinary risks, pushing their bodies and minds to the limits of their abilities, and all too often, beyond. They do not consider whether something might be a bad idea or not.

For a MotoGP rider, the short term is the next practice session, the medium term is the race on Sunday, the long term is the championship standing at the end of the season. Anything beyond that is not relevant to the job at hand, which is to try to win races and titles.

That blinkered focus means that they are, as a rule, incapable of taking sensible decisions about their health, in either the short or the long term. But it is precisely that same blinkered focus which has brought them to where they are, racing at the very highest levels of the world championship. The ability to exclude anything that doesn't directly involve racing from their minds and devote all of their mental and physical energy to racing is what makes them so successful.

The decisions of MotoGP racers are foolish in the long term, but when viewed from the warped perspective of an elite athlete, they have an internal logic and consistency which makes sense to them. As I said, MotoGP racers are no ordinary fools...

With the benefit of hindsight, the immediate result of Marc Márquez' decision to try to race at the Andalusian Grand Prix, a week after breaking his right arm in the first race at Jerez, was the wrong one. He tried to ride, but was forced to stop when the pain became unbearable. And now, barely a week on after returning home from Jerez, he has been forced to undergo another operation, to replace the plate in his right arm, which has been damaged. That makes his decision to ride look even worse.

The show must go on

If there is an extenuating circumstance to Márquez' decision to ride – and the decisions of all racers and athletes to come back way too early – it is that the races happen whether they are ready or not. Marc Márquez decided he couldn't race at Jerez 9 days ago, and the race went on without him. Marc Márquez scored zero points toward the 2020 championship, while Fabio Quartararo scored another 25, Maverick Viñales scored another 20, Valentino Rossi took home 16 points.

The FIM took no interest in whether the reigning champion was on the grid or not when it came to handing out the points. Full points were awarded, and rightly so. Those are the rules of the game: a race is organized, riders line up, and the first 15 riders to take the flag are awarded points. If you fall off while leading? No points. Can't make the grid? No points. The simplicity is part of the appeal.

However, that leaves riders with a stark choice: they can try to ride, and hope to bag at least a few points in the hope of better times to come, or they can sit out the race and be guaranteed zero points. The race goes on without them, and they have one less race to try to win the championship, giving their rivals for the title a free shot, an advantage in the chase. The pressure – external in part, but mostly internal – to race is tremendous. The possibility of a short-term gain always wins out over the long-term consequences.

Permanent pain

There is another factor which clouds the judgment of these riders. They are almost always carrying an injury of some sort or another. On the first MotoGP weekend at Jerez, there was a grand total of 42 crashes over all three days. Of those crashes, five riders required medical examination, three of whom were declared unfit: Alex Rins, who fractured a humerus and dislocated a shoulder on Saturday; Cal Crutchlow, who fractured a scaphoid and suffered a concussion on Sunday morning; and of course Marc Márquez, who broke his humerus during the race. Tom Lüthi and Somkiat Chantra were examined and passed fit.

That is just five of the 35 different riders who crashed during the weekend. The rest may have "Rider OK" marked next to their name in the falls report officially compiled by Dorna, and nearly all will have gotten up out of the gravel of their own accord and walked away, but does that mean they were unhurt? "Rider OK" merely means they are able to proceed under their own power, and do not need medical assistance or assessment before being allowed to ride again. But crashing still hurts, despite the very best efforts of Alpinestars, AGV, Arai et al. Riders have bumps, scrapes, bruises, often deep contusions and bruised bones after a crash.

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Just as any circumstances that occur in racing, no one knows better what is taking place or took place than the rider(s) involved. At least it seems that way. Racing mimics life where all that is really known is the subjective experience.

Had to look up the word sophistry. Determining whether or not Marquez was a danger to others by getting on a motogp bike for FP3 eleven days ago is like splitting hairs because racing motogp bikes is already freakin' dangerous. The continuing injury list proves this. Although grand prix racing has made great strides in reducing fatalities over the last 70 years, the best way to not let these guys be a danger to others is to not let them race. Because by everyone pushing to the limit, each one is encouraging the others to do the same. So everyone is in on the game of dangerousness - riders, teams, manufacturers, fans, journalists, media. It's all a big show that grabs the attention. If everyone put-putted around safely, there would be a lot less injuries but also no action or drama. It's the intensity of the spectacle that attracts the attention and pulls in viewers. Que the movie "Rollerball" from the 1970s.

In hindsight, it is clear that it would have been prudent for HRC to put Bradl on the bike for Jerez 2. This would have given Marquez' funny bone almost three weeks time to fuse. And what would have been the point differential between the two results between Marquez and Bradl participating in Andalucía? Last year Marquez never finished lower than second place. He even could have skipped Brno and still had a good shot at winning the title this year. He holds that much sway within HRC that they cannot make that call?

The human mind can come up with rules that in hindsight are seen to go completely against common sense. The worst part is when we do not learn from the misunderstandings of the past. During the Spanish Flu 100 years ago it was discovered, after enough death had taken place, that the survival rate of patients treated in open air tents was higher than patients treated in cramped, enclosed hospitals. Fresh air was beneficial to the health of infected patients. Unfortunately, seeking comfort won out during the 20th century and air conditioned buildings and homes have become stale air breeding grounds for infection transmission. And during the covid lockdown people were not allowed to venture into wilderness areas in southwest Colorado due to the theoretical burden put on services from possible emergencies. Best to stay indoors. 

The idea of more rules placed on injured riders when self-interest rules the world in so many ways sounds like another bunch of meaningless busywork. Especially when the one that is doing the determining is outside of a very subjective experience.

It's not the case for MM and the top shelf riders but many others would be motivated by the great  fear of not having a ride or possibly not being able to get a future ride due to the injuries so they'll do what they think they have to do in order to keep going. It's not just about winning it's about surviving in moto gp for many. 

Ah, that's so true - it's a really cut-throat 'business' to be in. Not only is this a field that often requires the sacrifice of your entire childhood in order to acheive the top job, it is also incredibly fickle and just when you think you have made it, one bad season or even a combination of factors outside of your control (contract season not lining up) can see you become a has-been never-was. Adding to that the fact that you can't even practice on your actual sporting equipment outside of the few sanctioned sessions and the pressure to stick at it and keep going even when you are badly injured is clear. If you blink, your opportunity has gone. 

David, did DORNA indicate how many races would have to happen to consider this a championship? Meaning if after Austria all goes to shit with COVID and they can't race anymore, is that still considered a season? Or is there a minimum number of races that need to take place?

yes, as you have eloquently written, that is the case. I still walk funny and it takes 30 minutes of streching and bending in the morning before a cup of coffee; and I only club raced.

Well written mate.

The Marc is BEAUTIFUL. His nearly limitless open horizon and blazing self-stoked fire in the upper abdomen are to be heralded.

We say he came of The Moto2 kiln. A first of his particular kind. So many bikes of such close performance, hungry riders chomping to get into GPs, more torque than 250s and improved tires, we have a gladiator arena. Bar bashing, paint swapping, two wheel drifting in traffic. The Marc had his steel tempered and sharpened of Moto2 milieu.

A point system arrives to manage it. So does a rookie rule exception to bring it. The old overdog is accosted, and answers for a time. The polite era was broken proudly and we love it.

This grinning beast, it gets on none other than the venerable Factory Honda. As Spanish as bullfighting, paella or Camino del Santiago, Repsol Honda hoists their flag upon this unbridled force of nature. A natural disaster partially sublimated and still envelope breaking.

The bike developed for him? The 2019 Honda RCyerf*ckedV. Max power, negligent front end feel, ragged angry loose short coffin with handlebars. With 2020 Michelins that further imbalance and push the front.

The imagery and narrative is dramatic and paints an arc that ends tragically. There is willful negligence in HRC. The risk isn't directly theirs. When they screwed down the cockpit glass on young kamikaze pilots without landing gear or fuel for home, they were losing a war and a way of life with long history. Here? Pride. Personal gain in an organization. Winning trophies. Negligence is rather passive. It usually has unfortunate understandable context. This is planful. Yamaha's motor? Negligent for winning a championship. This Honda? _______ with the strongest phrasing applicable.

I love motorcycle racing as much as anything. Risk is to be taken. Me too. Life is to be lived burning bright! This though? This is some bullsh*t on Honda's part.

oof, not sure on the kamikaze stuff here! I also don't think Honda are negligent in this case and I feel like this is a narrative that doesn't necessarily have a grand arc - just a few small things that have snowballed and will be learned from severely in the future. All the best to you, always enjoy the prose

I often think about all the wounds, bruises and scars that are covered up by bright, fresh colored leather. We get all smiles, but there is so much pain under the surface. Quite alarming, really. 

Every extreme sportsperson, from downhill skier, rugby or football player, cyclist or whatever from schoolboy level all the way to the top faces that same dilemma of pushing through after the inevitable injury or healing to a better level before again entering the arena. They all know the possible short and long term consequences and I am sure Marquez was well informed of the risks involved. I agree with the philosophy taken here that unless there is a danger to others, it is solely up to the rider to make that decision. If he can grit his teeth and make it through the rigorous testing, he is allowed to risk it. He risks it every time he goes out regardless of whether his bike is a pig he fights with every corner or he fights with his pain and the consequences to his health, it is he who makes these decisions on and off the track and that should be the case. The sports history books are full of athletes in Marquez position.

Thanks for a wonderful read! I guess this puts things even more in perspective: in 2018 Lorenzo emerged from the summer as the only one who could be MM. Fast forward 2 years and he's now retired, much in part due to not wanting to take the injuries and risk anymore. 
 

For years now, most of the wise people around have been telling MM can only escape so many crashes. It has now caught up but it still seems he was quite lucky after all. 
 

The likes of CC, AD and VR are true aliens and we should bow to them every time they hop on the motorcycle!

If I can sit on the bike, I can make it. If I can qualify I can make it. If I can make the grid on Sunday I can salvage something. 

Definitley how a racer thinks. 

If.

I think if I were a team principle, owner or the money behind the effort, I'd want to protect my asset that I've signed for what now, 4 more years? Bradl would be on speed dial. 

But, HRC also have not only a stake in this game, they have a responsibility. They are who have created a motorcycle only Marc can ride to a championship. Nobody else has gotten close. I'd think Repsol would be interested in HRC bringing a better solution and the team protecting that brilliant rider, Marc. 

Five races and no points, if we get to five races. 

> I'd think Repsol would be interested in HRC bringing a better solution and the team protecting that brilliant rider, Marc. 

A very interesting point. Honda may want to consider their future development to evolve the bike into a less 'extreme' machine. Are there any stats of crashes/injuries per racing mile, for each manufacturer?

[EDIT: Just spotted that WaveyD1974 has just written this below, but rather more eloquently!]

Awful lot of hand wringing over these athletes using up their bodies at a young age by their own choice for their own benefit. I don't hear any about the billions of people who are destroying their bodies for giant corporations who couldn't give a shit less about them. I say if you're going to sacrifice your health you should do it for glory as these racers do and not for the benefit of soulless executives and their stock options.

The video above, is not arm work.  That is a seated one hand lat pull (laterals).  The other exercise is a seated overhead press (for shoulder).  Neither is "arm work" to me.  Arm work would be the tricep, the bicep and the forearm.  So that would be a curl, pushdown, kickback, extension, etc.  The video shows back and shoulder work. 

It's indeed up to the rider and the team, not the fans.  And none of this is is new.  Many riders have tried to get back on the bike a bit too quick, rode a session, a full day, etc, and said they cannot do it.  This is just a big deal because it's Marc and he is the reigning MotoGP champion. 

Colin Edwards went through this with a busted collarbone.  He attempted to do a Lorenzo like comback, riding immediately after, and the team, and I think his family, iirc, talked him out of it.  Or maybe it was the clinica mobile who wouldn't allow it.  I seem to remember him saying something about him not having the correct passport and that if he was Spanish he would have been allowed to race.  He said he felt fine and could pass the circuit checks.  Perhaps David remembers.  And speaking of Colin, he has said over the last week the high side was due to the TC, Marc's reliance on it, something to that effect.  It's been posted as news on the MC racing sites including GPone. 

Bring on Brno.

Good call.  The first row is most certainly working his lats, and the second dumbell press is working is traps & delts.

There is one other point.  The weight he is using is tiny.  That's probably no more than 25 lbs on the row and a 6 or 9 lbs dumbell on the press.  The muscles themselves aren't working much, but bone density is one key benefit of strength training.  I would be willing to bet the goal is to stress the newly repaired humerus. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, right?

But I'm not there either, so I'm just speculating.

Fist of all, let me say that hindsight is always 20/20.

Caveat, I am not a traumatologist, and although I have plated humeri(?), none recently.

However, as an orthopedic surgeon, I cringed when I saw the videos of what Marquez was doing with his freshly plated arm in rehab. I thanked God that I was not Dr Mir, because I knew that I personally, I would not have been able to sleep at night. The forces during those workouts in the video are massive, especially in bending and torsion. When a fracture is plated, it is basically a race thereafter between fracture healing or hardware failure. One or the other will win in the end. It is the responsibilty of the surgeon, in my humble opinion, who fixed the fracture and therefore knows how stable it is initally, to clearly communicate an appropriate rehabilitation plan to the physical therapist and the patient, who then put that plan into action within those limitations. Could there have been a breakdown in this communication, or perhaps, compliance by the patient?  There is also some guesswork involved, of course. It is impossible for a surgeon to completely understand the forces that an elite rider places on their bodies and how the rider is capable of performing within the limitations after an inury or surgery. I suffered a broken scaphoid after a dirt bike accident and was unable to even drive a car for 3 weeks. Cal Crutchlow competed in a MotoGP race within a week and Toby Price won Dakar with the same injury. The plate obviously lost this race and the blame can likely be shared by many as David's article describes so well.

Also, as an addendum, replating a fracture that has suffered loss of fixation can be tricky. The risks of further complications are higher. Obviously, Dr Mir and his team are world class and Marquez is in extremely capable and experienced hands. It is my hope and prayer that his team is conservative with this recovery and that he goes on to heal uneventfully so that we can see him compete again for the championship next year.

I'm an Emergency Doctor and frequently give advice for returning to sporting activities with much less severe injuries. As well as telling them to "listen to their body" which Marc said he was doing...but maybe he was deluding himself...I also tell them that 2 weeks off now may save them 4-6 weeks off later if they try to compete with their injury and cause more damage than they had in the first place. I also hope that Marc will now take time for his fracture to heal.

Toby Price won the Dakar....but the screw ground a hole in his scaphoid. I have no idea how he managed to even finish the race!

Personally i'd avoid laying so much blame on Honda for the bike they have produced. It seems to read as if they forced this bike on Marc and he suffers it. I cannot know exactly what goes on behind the closed doors but i think Hondas responsibility is to give Marc the tools to beat the rest and looking at the records, that is what they have done.

I'm guessing Marc would love to have the tools to demolish opponents and the bike be as sweet as sugar, but i think if given the choice between the performance to dominate and having a sweet handling bike he'll take the rocket knowing he has the reflexes and talent manage it. Last year was feedback extrodinaire of that.

I have to say, i agree with Puig to some extent. Honda gave Marc what he needed to win the championships and in 2019 destroy his opponents and steal their horses. Marc Marquez would not have had the season he had in 2019 if he was riding a Yamaha. I'm not saying he wouldn't still win it, maybe he would have but i doubt he would blow the doors off the title fight as he did.

The progression from 2018 to 2019 is a good example. 2017-2018 Marc constantly has to deal with Ducatis that can, if they get half a sniff, just power past him on the straight bits. Answer comes in 2019, Honda was very much closer to the Dukes in the traps and the Dukes couldn't even keep him at bay on the Mugello start finish. Everyone says that the handling of the bike had suffered because of this. Some electrickery issues with the new motors engine braking and maybe some front end geometry, can't remember to be honest. Cal suffered, Lorenzo never got going but Marc could handle it and he did, 1 non finish, six 2nds and the rest wins out of 19.

As i say i don't know what goes on behind the closed doors, but i can't see Honda telling Marc to choose between the bike and the door. They've given him, as best they can, what he's asked for and now they're wedded to the beast they created together, but that marrige makes it successful, Marc wins with that bike, not despite it.

Someone else says it the way I see it. Ever since the cat and mouse race of Qatar 2019 I've been saying that the Ducati is no longer the best bike on the grid. I'd go so far as to say that Marquez with his dirt roots even likes a highly reactive bike (Morbidelli's words) such as the RC213V. Simply because it matches his riding style better than any other bike on the grid would and no one else on the Honda can ride it like he does (purely my fanciful opinion, of course). By mastering the beast he won't have any competition from other RC213V riders. We don't know if what Marquez says is what he really believes about the so-called turning woes of the Honda. This guy reminds me of Doohan when he went back to the screamer engine only to sow doubt in the mind's of the other Honda riders. 

There were videos with Marquez and Takeo Yokoyama discussing the development of the 2019 Honda and how the engineers chose to address what Marquez stated was the bike's largest deficit - power. They knew that putting holes in the frame near the headstock would increase airflow but also compromise turning. They also said it would take up to two years to realize if their evolutionary direction was the correct way. I still recommend watching Jerez part 1 from Marquez' onboard camera. I believe that guy is completely at home with that bike out of shape on the brakes into the turns and sliding around on the gas coming out. Not a fan of his neighborhood bully persona but his riding ability makes quite an impression on my consciousness.

Appreciating your articulation, glad to have you and your points on hand. And am on the other end of this consideration obviously.

KTM is drafting in alongside Honda for 4th best bike. Like Suzuki had the best Yamaha on the grid until late 2019. After Q 2018 Yam brass had a responsible party hari kari in public. Then a top to bottom do-over was embarked upon. Fantastic job, right up until they provided marginal outright horsepower gains rather than three solid steps forward.

Cue KTM which may soon have the best Honda on the grid. Honda may lose The Marc to career ending injury. Why? How? The chassis and a front end that ghosts you after turn in.

It is a much worse negligence than the Yam motor, because safety. And they have the biggest war chest. Used for a suicide bomb one guy can so far survive. The design is not an accident. But the bike is one. Hard to watch such a long telegraphed tradgedy.

Am still of the opinion that Marquez crashes on purpose. Holy Spiriting apexes is just the latest evolution of what could be called "Marquez cornering". What others would call turning, Marquez performs a slow crash. This is how he makes up time on his competitors. In every corner possible. Remember the Bridgestone era where the hype about the front was such that Marquez could brake and turn in with the rear in the air? The Michelins are rear biased so he is forced to crash in the corners in order to go fast. The guy makes up so much time on the brakes it is mesmerizing to watch. Again, check out his onboard at Jerez 1 where he slices his way up to the eventual highside at turn three. The way he gained on the riders ahead as he entered the corners on the brakes tells me he is in complete control. Considering the power he displays while an employee at Honda, the perfectionism of the Japanese at solving problems, and the rumored budget of HRC, I have difficulty believing they are not trying their hardest to bring solutions for whatever ails the RC213V. According to the wishes of the Golden Boy, of course. It's my opinion the 80 million euro man is getting what he is asking for. At least in effort.

"What is your obsession with speed, Peter?" asked the woman employed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The obsession with speed is that the faster one travels the less time elapses. Einstein's theory of relativity. The closer one approaches the speed of light (or causality) the closer one approaches timelessness. Timelessness is not belonging to time. Timelessness is no longer being bound to the belief "I am the body." Because the body belongs to time. At least it appears to in this life. Why is it that the speed of light is constant regardless of the position or movement of the frame of reference? Could it be that contrary to what it seems by all senses of the mind, the frame of reference is actually motionless? That even though everything that is perceived through the senses that report to the brain, nothing has ever moved since time immemorial? That is something that the human mind would consider insane. The same mind that judges racing motorcycles as insane. After a stint in the looney bin and being treated with electroconvulsive therapy, Robert M. Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", opined that the crazies might actually be the sane ones in this so-called "reality". Or maybe this is just a lucid dream.

Looking at Marc going through turns 2 and 6 at Jerez through that first weekend. Sorry Honda, it looked like the worst handling bike on the grid. That's how it looked when it was being used to produce top shelf lap times in the hands of a maestro and maybe (recent evidence would suggest) it takes Marc to unlock the bikes potential, but the potential for making laps around Jerez was huge. Maybe huge like 2019, every track, every condition. However, the potential for looking like a near continuous disaster was also present.

Do you remember the first quarter of 2019? There was hope ! The Honda looked to have some underlying nasty DNA under braking and those issues carrying themselves to the apex. New bike, new engine, a rough diamond that needed some corners knocking off, with a laptop. Jerez 1 was race one 2020 and if my memory serves me right (usually kicks me instead) pre-season testing had Honda in some kind of dire straights. We saw what the potential of the package was in Race 1, where will it be by seasons end ? Whenever that comes. The Honda, Marquez package is dangerous...to their competitors. That's why he signed a four year contract.

BUT

The Honda-Marquez package may look amazing and it might produce race wins and championships galore but its possibly not a healthy choice. The only question is, what would a rider prefer, assuming mutually exclusive sets, a winning package or a healthy package? Competitive instincts do not need to be subjectively experienced, abstracted or rationalised to exist...dragons are ignorant to all of it wink

False dichotemy either winning or safe.

We disagree. I hope The Marc makes it to 2022 being ambulatory. I care about the guy. Being able to skate-drift a short bike is one thing. He can, for a time. And yes, asked for a bit more motor as his 2019 development request. The ghost front feel? Horrifying Repeated Crash. Hurled Rapidly Careening. Hardly Rideable Crap. Harbinger of Retired Cripple. Handwashing Responsibility Carelessly. Handing Rider#2 Championship. Harsh Reality Clarified. Hope Rider Continues.

Motorsport is never safe. The choice was winning or healthy. As in winning and suffering a few too many knocks or having less crashes per season on the 'healthy' bike. I guess you could, as it's motosport get hurt so it was never going to be exhaustive. The assumption in the question was exclusivity which naturally doesn't exist on what is best an imaginary scale. Anyway, i agree with everything you say but i just don't think it's all Hondas fault. Worth remembering too, Marc could have changed teams. Any team would be bonkers not to be savagely interested. Instead he signed a 4 year contract.
 

Anyways, seems it's like a word association test. Should riders be stopped ? ...and it's migrated to this haha. On to the next chapter.

Marquez's ability to avoid serious injury during his carreer is out of this world. It's a combination of several factors, including technique, physique and equipment. But the way he bounces off the asphalt and tumbles in the gravel without breaking his body is unreal. That run had to end. Still in the end it was a high energy bike impact that is relatively rare that caused the injury.

Marquez decision to compete in Jerez 2 was rational and the right one IMO. The chance was always very slim. Hindsight is 20/20. His body felt like it could handle the stress. He had to score some points to have a chance of defending the championship. When he realized it wasn't possible to do the qualifying, let alone the full race he retired. Now it doesn't really matter, the championship is lost anyway. Take the time and come back fully healed. Don't run unnecessary risks that could jeopardize his career.

Enjoyable contributions from everyone here. Thanks friends- I feel challenged and enlightened. I am not sure though that I detected a general sentiment amongst the Motomatters community to see riders to be 'stopped', so much as to encourage caution and a more medium term view of risks versus benefits. It is precisely the sort of character that David described that sees these riders do what they do, whether that is to balance on the front wheel while braking from 300km/h or riding within a week or two of a significant fracture. We just admire these people enough to wish them a healthy retirement and/or a return to their competitive best. It's interesting that this sense of concern is often portrayed as desire to compel riders to do one thing over another, or to stop them. There is a middle ground - something like 'I wish you wouldn't but don't let me stop you'. This is how I feel about the Isle of Man TT. I think the risks in that are excessive and too many fabulous young people have lost their lives. (There is a wonderful discussion of the IOM TT in an edition of Front End Chatter podcast which I really recommend - sums up my feelings very well.) But I would never presume to call for the TT to be banned or cancelled, as it would be an indefensible imposition of my values over someone else's autonomy. Similarly my conjecture about Marquez or Rins or Crutchlow or anybody is not for them to be 'stopped' but to consider the long game - cause I want to see them keep racing, at their best.

I've read down this great disussion, thinking about the TT as well.  That (in motorcycling terms) would seem to me to be the logical conclusion of where any attempt to "protect riders from themselves" might lead.  Racing at the TT is the proudest and greatest achievement of my life, so obviously I think riders should be allowed to do it.  But I'm also glad that I don't do it anymore!   But we have to allow young men (and it almost always is men) to challenge the limitations that the physical universe imposes.  If we stop riders riding when injured, then we have to stop the TT and other road races, and lots and lots of other activities - climbing, mountaineering, skiing & snowboarding, etc etc.

The test of "are they a danger to others" is the right place to draw the line

I have no experience of riding stuff on track competitively, but I have been a middle-fond runner of international level, and have been into Athletics, and around Athletes of the highest caliber, most of my life.
There is nothing unique into motorsport's physical effort, nothing unique into the pain threshold riders suffer: it's utterly common in most sports (what isn't, ofc, is the very real risk of death.).
Preparing any lactic-acid-dependent discipline will have the athlete, no matter how good, bend over in pain and puke the emptiness of their stomach out *every single training session*.
Muscle and tendon ripping, stress fracturing, lingering, devastanting inflammation are common, injuries to the future selves a given for any athlete out of the teenage years.
And for them too, races and championships start whether they are present, and fit, or else.

My thesis is that what is lacking in motorsports, too often, is the ethics of competition: there are no established systems of coaching figures (themselves highly trained!) which take a young kid and educate them to paucity, thoughtful moderation when an injury lingers, refrain when asking of one's body.
This is markedly not in antithesis to a combative, competitive spirit: the false dichotomy of "that's the way they are to do what they do" is, precisely, false.

The world record holder (no less. I think his competitive spirit has to be at the least equal to that of an MM.) for the 400mts has been sidelined for two whole years due to a torn ligament in the knee.
He's still nowhere near top shape.
And sure as hell he didn't start hopping on his repaired knee two days after the operation.

The difference is not in the injury type, not in the obsession with one's discipline and craft (anyone good enough will be on the case 24/7.), but in said lack of coaching figures: a Manager isn't one, as their goal has to be to make the most money.
It's a coach someone which can let go of a shot at a title, only for the sake of preserving the athlete in his/her charge.
The one that with a cool head and a modicum of statistics weighs the risks and the rewards, and suggests in no uncertain terms the course of action to the - hot-headed by nature - athlete.

"Stop now, or you will get (more) hurt. I shall not stand by you if you go ahead. My work ethics demands it."

All this debacle looks like a bouncing of responsibilities ("we've only done what he wanted!"), and a play done by ear, at best.
And in all this, the Motor part was surely shining, with the platitudinal machistic undertones, but the Sport part of it has come out somewhat diminished, in my view.

It's really good to have David to read.

 

The machine in MotoGP is not the body. You can change the entire bike for a new one if it gets damaged.

Changing the machine is not an option for a 400m runner. It's literally a once in a lifetime machine with a variable wear rate.

Similar for riders but they often go just as, or near to as fast with the damage and after it too. Not always, that is accepted

And perhaps that's also why Athletics is traditionally at pains with bringing up talent in as comprehensive a fashion as possible, from the early age to maturity (Traditionally. Plenty exceptions to the rule, i'm afraid.).
Indeed, a knee will take ~15 Gs running sub-11 seconds on the 100 meters, once per step, four times in a row without pause, to get the WR.
The 400 meters world record holder couldn't walk, forget putting the (bio)machine through its paces, a one percent away from the top performance.
MM's outing was utterly reckless, undoubtedly painful, incredibly skilled, crucially achievable because of the fact he rides a machine.
If it was a boxing match, he wouldn't have wanted to see the ring, i bet you a dime. ^^
 

The only way one could have known (possibly without a doubt) whether Marquez was fit to ride 12 days ago, would have been for one to pony up the two-hundred dollars at the filing office on the seventh-and-a-half floor of the Mertin-Flemmer building in NYC and enter the dark and slimey tunnel behind the hidden trap door where one crawled until they were sucked into the mind of Marc Marquez for 15 minutes while he was riding the RC213V in neighborhood bully mode before one was spat out somewhere off the NJ Turnpike. Then it would have been pretty clear if Marquez was fit to ride because one would have been Marquez. For those 15 minutes...

I always have the feeling that he is very aware of the history books and his place in it...becoming the youngest this...becoming the first that...overtaking Rossi down the corkscrew...whatever, maybe going back to Jerez is about the same ...delivering the quickest comeback ever. For the setback he had to face when trying - this is more likely a career defining moment, than any moment where he saved a frontendslide to extreme. Having the patience to recognize the right time for the comeback will be more of a challenge for him than doing pushups.

Funny how you forget things as you age. While my initial reactions were, he must be mad, through reading the previous discussion and then this, including David's beautifully crafted argument, I've remembered my thinking in my '20's and '30's, when I climbed. I would have argued with St. Peter himself about my right to do ostensibly stupid things on the rock or ice, because doing otherwise was a life not worth living. So I completely get where these riders are coming from and I too, wouldn't want to meddle with their choices, informed or otherwise. So long as they're not endangering someone who doesn't want to be endangered. 
I wonder what the rest of the paddock thought. I wouldn't mind betting they were mostly just curious to see if he could do it and not in the least bothered that he was giving it a go.

"When God closes a door, he opens a window"

;)

(If it is true that the repair job gave out upon honking a big window open, it would obviously NOT mean that it was JUST about that particular stressor vs all the previous forces placed on it)