Beyond the News
The recent doping scandals worldwide opened up several new discussions about the use of substances that help to improve the performance of high level athletes. The former cyclist Lance Armstrong run out of answers about his involvement with doping and, after a decade, confessed that he took drugs during his journey to win 7 Tour de France. Now, the top 100m sprinters Assaf Powell, from Jamaica, and Tyson Gay, from the USA, have joined the list that Armstrong denied to be part of for many years.
In fact, this list is much longer! Several other Jamaican athletes, including Olympic medalists, were tested positive to at least one prohibited drug in the last month. Usain Bolt is not there and he has given various interviews to ratify that he is clean! But, with all this mess a red flag is easily lifted by the public!
Florence Griffith Joyner, who was Olympic Champion in 1988 died at the age of 38 in 1998 while sleeping. There is a huge controversy around whether her death is the result of steroids’ use. Joyner’s case seems to be an untold story. Beside the fact that her body changed abruptly in a short period of time before the 1988 Olympic Games, she is until today the woman to be beaten on 100m and 200m, holding the World record in both competitions.
Furthermore, in the 2000 Olympic Games another American sprinter became famous after winning 5 medals in Sydney Olympic Games: her name? Marion Jones. Later, she admitted the use of forbidden substances in Australia and, just like Armstrong, confessed that she lied during the entire investigation of her case. The question is, how can a clean athlete set the fastest time in history and not been beat by a “competitor” 12 years later who was taking drugs? This is quite strange!
And it also applies for Usain Bolt! He is clean, but all his major opponents are not. The same opponents who look like turtles next to him on the track!
Lance Armstrong was very direct to say: “you cannot win Tour de France without doping”. What seems to be quite true for many reasons! First, the work that these athletes put on to race through mountains and roads across Europe, facing hot and cold weather, long and short sprint races, is just beyond any comprehension. Someone without the right preparation cannot get that far.
And the right preparation might be what we nowadays call as doping. I strongly believe that years ago, for example in 1988 Olympic Games, most athletes went out there clean, but as the pressure for results started to increase, doping became a real deal.
And I would say that by not allowing athletes to use certain substances, the International Olympic Committee (COI) is putting the life of several people in danger. We cannot deny the doping in sports, and in many cases, some athletes will dope on their own, without a medical assistance, what may cause serious damage to their health in a near future.
If doping was discussed seriously towards its legalization and regulation, we could actually move towards a fair Olympic Games where it is not only about the drug or the ability of certain athletes to certain competitions, but mainly about the preparation by bringing all together in a healthy way. Moreover, we would make sure that any drug entering the sport does so without taking illicit ways, while athletes would have medical and professional support to prepare themselves by following safe procedures.
Nevertheless, COI and other sports committees and federations prefer to keep all this mess under the rug and come up with hypocrite speeches during events by saying that everyone is there for the sport and compromise themselves to compete clean blá, blá, blá! On the other hand, sponsors are fulfilling their pockets and pressuring their athletes for results that not long ago were impossible to be reached. Eventually, the ones who are blamed and demoralized are the competitors, who take the risk in order to win!
This does not make Lance Armstrong any better. He lied, he cheated and he was really arrogant while facing the media on this regards. But, by keeping the rules as they are, any international federation is actually helping to create legends that have high chances to become major deceptions. Does the sport deserve it?
I do not think so and this is why I defend the idea of reviewing the current doping structure and create rules that would allow athletes to make use of enhancing drugs, as long as it is done under a doctor supervision. The sport competition has already moved towards the creation of “super-hero” athletes, it is time to show how it really happens!