In light of the recent Drug Scandal among Turkish athletes and with the outcry of athletes who like to compete clean I felt compelled to share my thoughts and opinions on doping in our sport. Going back to a few weeks ago when Doug Logan’s asinine statements made Let’s Run Q of D. Read and get mad here. A book should be thrown at the head of anyone dumb enough to say give up the fight against drugs in our sport. Stop making a morality play of the issue: It all comes down to morality. The main thing that should stop someone from making the decision to use drugs or not is whether they can look themselves in the mirror and be honest about the decisions they make pertaining to performance. Is it not immoral to use a substance that would give you an advantage over your competitors? A substance that if you brought it to the warm up area and said “hey anyone want to take some of this” athletes would look at you in disbelief and do everything in their power to forfeit you from starting their race. How about athletes that have so many TUE’s (therapeutic use exemption) on file they carry a list so they don’t forget to claim one when being drug tested. Morality is the issue here and saying we should call it something else is undermining how humans should live their lives on and off the playing field.
Do you think Adam Nelson believes we should give up the fight after he was just awarded (9 years later) the 2004 Gold Medal when Yuriy Bilonog tested positive for oxandrolone? Lisa Dobriskey of Great Britain was scrutinized for speaking out and believeing she wasn’t competing on level playing fields. “It’s harsh because the person who comes fourth always gets a really hard deal,’ said Dobriskey. ‘For me in Beijing it was soul-destroying. Then later you find out the athlete who came third has tested positive, but her ban wasn’t backdated to Beijing. It’s disheartening, really.” The 2 year bans were a great start and attempted to punish athletes but when you can return to competition, what on earth would stop you from cheating again? It’s literally a slap on the wrist. The biggest problem with drugs is most of them aren’t visually identifiable in an athlete. So it’s hard to point your finger and claim. But as an athlete there are inherent things you know about training, racing, and the ability to recover that when you see things some athletes achieve it’s hard to not call BS on. Now this doesn’t mean I’m a pessimist when it comes to performance. I first and foremost believe in greatness and it’s what get’s me out the door every morning. The 2:19 marathon of Deena Kastor,
the 3:34 1500 of David Torrence, the 26:59 of Chris Solinsky, the 14:45 5k of Molly Huddle, the 4:00 of Shannon Rowbury, and the 1:57 800 of Alysia Montano, the 2nd place at Boston of Desi Davila, the 5 straight National Titles of Nick Symmonds, and the 7th in world of Lauren Fleshman. This is the American greatness that was achieved through hard work, not drugs.
Sometimes drug cheating hits very close to home when it involves people we’ve raced. Most recently an article came out about a Japanease marathoner who tested positive for EPO but claimed it was in a medicine she was prescribed. True or not true? We don’t know, but I do know I raced miles 21-23 with her in December’s Honolulu Marathon and finished one spot ahead of her. If she had beaten me, would I be more outraged at this news and fight for the money she took over me? In 2009 I ran my first Lilac Bloomsday race and remembered getting outkicked and after crossing the finish line, the woman turned around and congratulated me. I thought wow she’s kinda old and she still whooped me. Gave me a lot of hope and encouragement for my later competitive years. Until a year later, when that same women Lisa Hunter-Galvan was popped for EPO. Her response:”All the pressures of trying to get onto teams and keep running fast didn’t help. It was a really tough time and I never want to be in that situation again.” I’m really sorry you had a ton of pressure but what the heck do you think everyone else on the starting line is going through? How you handle that pressure is what makes doping a moral issue. Elite athletes are all fighting to win races, make Olympic Teams, grab medals, support themselves through shoe contracts and race earnings. Do drug cheats believe they are the only ones with pressure or are they the only ones with no morals, no soul, and no other choice. Here’s a choice: train your ass off, sleep a ton, eat well, drink some coffee, take a mulit-vitamin, and endure some pain while you’re racing. So to those who believe we should stop making athletes pee in a cup, make themselves available 24/7 and let them make their own judgements why don’t we cancel the judicial system, throw away speed limits, and otherwise let each individual decide what’s right and wrong. To Doug Logan who claims “have those people turn their attention to apprehension of terrorists, pedophiles, tax evaders and secret leakers.” Drug cheats are criminals: they steal money from their competitors, terrorists: they bring threat into the arena of track and field, secret leakers: drugs makes you faster and better, duh!
So not let’s not give up! Let’s keep peeing in cups, speaking out when you believe your competitors seem too good to be true, tell race directors that athletes shouldn’t be allowed in their races, and don’t feel ashamed to speak up and speak your mind. Fans want to believe in greatness and support their favorite athletes but must have 100% confidence that the athlete simply worked hard to get there. Lastly if you wanna show your support for a clean sport just “Say No To EPO”! Check out the new RunFanShop and get your very own shirt!