Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 5:24 AM

Now Tyson Gay et al: Drugs as Rampant in Track as in Cycling

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

2010_8_14-2010_8_14_3_10_24-jpg-21842USA Today reported on Sunday that America’s fastest man, Tyson Gay, and virtually everyone on Jamaica’s Track team (except the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt) have tested positive for banned substances.

But, after Marion Jones, if you’re still shocked to learn that any Track star is a cheat, you’d probably also be shocked to learn that Santa Claus is a fake.

I was crestfallen… After all, despite my preternatural cynicism, which compels me to doubt protestations about steroid use by almost every other athlete, I actually bought her indignant and angry denials hook, line, and sinker.

Jones is only the latest, though admittedly the most famous, professional athlete to be caught in a web of lies about using steroids. Unfortunately, her fall from grace will leave fans of every Olympic sport wondering, quite rightly, if Marion wasn’t clean, then who is…?

(“Jones Admits Using Steroids: Why Marion, Why?” The iPINIONS Journal, October 12, 2007)

What’s more, after Lance Armstrong, if you still believe any denial or explanation any athlete offers after  he/she gets caught taking performance-enhancing drugs, well, you’re just a gullible fool.  Indeed, nothing indicates how guilty Gay is quite like him withdrawing from next month’s showdown with Bolt at the World Championships in Moscow even before his second (“B”) sample is tested.

No doubt he knows the only reason he has the fastest times in the world this year is that he upped his doping game. Which only makes him look all the more pathetic for attempting to shift blame with this oxymoronic explanation:

I don’t have a sabotage story… I basically put my trust in someone and was let down. I know exactly what went on, but I can’t discuss it right now.

(ESPN, July 14, 2013)

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 6.59.51 PMWhat makes Gay’s fall from grace so telling is that he was the sport’s poster boy for clean athletes – even starring in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s My Victory campaign to “preserve clean sport.” He now faces a two-year ban, which would effectively end this 30-year old’s career. Based on the USA Today report, Adidas, his primary sponsor, threw him away like yesterday’s newspaper.

But Gay is not the only top American sprinter to test positive. After all, Justin Gatlin, the 100m 2004 Olympic Champion as well as the 100m and 200m 2005 World Champion, also tested positive in 2006.

Frankly, if any part of these latest revelations stood the slightest chance of disappointing me it’s the involvement of so many of Jamaica’s top sprinters. But I was fully prepared even for this.

For here’s how I shared my informed doubts about the way the tiny island nation of Jamaica was becoming as dominant in sprints as the entire African Continent has been in distances:

I wonder if it’s a testament to their national training methods or the performance-enhancing ‘herbs’ they use to flavor their sports drinks that make these Jamaicans so incredibly fast….

(“2008 Beijing Olympic Games – the Phelpsian Touch … Pure Gold,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 16, 2008)

blake, bolt, shelley, vcbSince then, Veronica Campbell-Brown, the reigning 200m World Champion, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the two-time and reigning 100m Olympic Champion, both tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. And let’s not forget that Yohan Blake, the reigning 100m World Champion and, most significantly, Bolt’s training partner, also tested positive (in 2009) for a banned substance.

images-1Now comes this report about Asafa Powell, who helped Jamaica win gold in the 4x100m relay at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, Sherone Simpson, who won silver at the 2008 Olympics, and “three other unnamed Jamaican sprinters” all testing positive.

This is why it can only be a matter of time before the lightning Bolt himself gets struck for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Incidentally, betraying his consciousness of guilt, Powell followed Gay’s lead by summarily withdrawing from next month’s championships, where he was scheduled to help Bolt defend Jamaica’s gold in the 4×100 relay.

Apropos of which, I hope the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will now claw back all of the medals these Jamaicans won just as it clawed back all those Marion Jones won.  And this claw back should include forcing all members of their relay teams to forfeit their medals too.

Finally, having read the above, you might be shocked to learn that I’m on record asserting that banning steroids is not the answer; on the contrary:

Policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian; it’s utterly futile. After all … athletes have always, and will always, do or take anything that might give them a competitive advantage. And if what they do or take poses no harm to anyone except themselves, who cares?!

This enlightened attitude towards performance-enhancing drugs would have precluded the ‘scandals’ that now threaten the professional careers of Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis and Olympic (100m) Champion Justin Gatlin; to say nothing of sparing them international ridicule as pathetic liars and cheaters.

(“A Plea for Landis, Gatlin, et al: Legalize Drugs…Especially in Sports,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 3, 2006)

It’s just that I don’t think cheaters should ever prosper. But instead of continuing this backwards, cat-and-mouse game of trying to catch them, the fairer and more sustainable thing for organized (amateur and professional) sports to do is to simply lift their ban on all performance-enhancing drugs.

And let’s be honest, sprinters on steroids are far more exciting to watch – as everyone from Ben Johnson to Marion Jones has demonstrated. Which is why the organizers of next month’s World Championships must be cursing their fate to have so many top sprinters withdrawing: either because they have already tested positive or because they fear testing positive….

Related commentaries:
Why Marion, Why
Beijing Olympics
Decriminalize drugs

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