Rant of the Week

Is There a Single Honest Athlete in the House?

It has recently been reported that Lance Armstrong is attempting to prevent publication of a book that alleges he may have used steroids.

Now, it's not unimaginable that the book is entirely scurrilous.  But it is written by two serious European sports reporters and it's information comes from named sources.

And it's not as if Lance Armstrong is saying, "I am a clean athlete who wouldn't go near an illegal supplement or steroid". 

In fact, he will go very near.

One of the experts Lance Armstrong regularly consults with is Dr. Michele Ferrari, an Italian who has been charged with involvement in producing erythropoietin (EPO) for illegal use by athletes. 

Ferrari is a protégé of Francesco Conconi who is also suspected of involvement with doping.  Armstrong does not, obviously, deny his association with Ferrari.    Armstrong correctly describes Ferrari as an expert on training and fitness and claims that that is the only reason he consults with him and allows him to perform physiological testing. 

If you were clean, would you admit a close personal association with an expert on doping?  Would you be willing to risk your reputation and all your endorsement contracts for... what?  His friendship and encouragement?  Is there really no other expert in the world who can perform the same services... without the suspicious background?

Recent reports suggest that a large number of top U.S. athletes may have been using illegal substances.  Some of these substances were not detectable until an informant obtained a syringe containing traces of the supplement and supplied it to the authorities.

There was also that allegation in 2002 that the U.S. Postal Team had tried to dispose of several bags of Actovegin during a race. 

In fairness, the U.S. Postal Team tested clear.  In fairness, it is now known that certain masking agents can be used to disguise the use of steroids.

Is there a single honest athlete in the house?  What is the point of these competitions?  You won?  You cheated.  Case closed.

Not fair?  Why aren't athletes speaking out?  Why are there no public demands that the athletic federations work harder to clean up their sports?  Why isn't there an outcry from honest athletes-- you cheaters are destroying the credibility of our games?

If I was a world-class athlete and I was not cheating, I would be enraged.  I would be enraged because I know that if I actually won an event, everybody would assume I was cheating anyway.  If I improved my time dramatically: cheating.  If I managed to set a world record: boy, you really cheated.  Why would any honest athlete choose to remain in athletics? 

I would tell the press that I want tougher testing and tougher regulations because unless the public can be convinced that they are witnessing honest, real performances, they will, sooner or later, stop watching.

Just how big of a scam is this? 

I don't think I personally will accept that any world records established after about 1968 are valid.  I don't accept Barry Bond's record for home runs.  I don't accept that Roger Clemens can still pitch competitively at 40 just because he works out every day. 

I don't accept that the organizations that are responsible for ensuring the integrity of their sports really cares.  Ask yourself if it hurts them, to have world records broken at almost every meet.

Copyright © 2004 Bill Van Dyk  All rights reserved.

All contents copyright © 2004 Bill Van Dyk