OPINION: Olympic Athletes Who Cheat Ruin It For Everyone, Enough Already!
Fans have been let down time and time again. Athletes so highly revered that are caught taking performance enhancing drugs in turn, have medals taken away and lose respect of many, all in one blow.
What’s the point?
The dream of being the best, untouchable. Olympic cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using banned substances and intimidation on teammates that didn’t want to dope because he wanted to win by any means necessary. That’s the point, to win.
Cheating to win can’t feel good, but athletes do it to stay competitive because they know their competition is doing it. If everyone is taking them, everyone should stop taking them and they will still be competitive. Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s human nature to want to be better, faster and stronger.
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It takes the fun out of watching a race when swimmers or sprinters line up on the board or blocks respectively and I wonder which (or if all) of these athletes is doping. It’s sad to think that world record holder of the women’s 100 meter dash, U.S. sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner probably cheated, but now we’ll never know. Instead of being excited about the Olympics, I’m skeptical. All excitement, anticipation and hope that any of this is reality is ruined. Athletes competing honestly without performance enhancers get painted with the same brush.
Performance enhancing drugs have been used in modern Olympic Games since 1904, this isn’t anything new we are grappling with. Drug testing at the Olympics began in 1968, but it’s not as easy to detect drug use nowadays with advancements in technology, or conspiring, that can make it nearly impossible.
Now that Russia has a potential blanket ban from Olympic competition in Rio, it begs the question how many other countries should be banned. A report confirmed athletes representing Russia for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi were required by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to take performance enhancing drugs. This information was leaked by a Russian whistle-blower.
According to The New York Times Russia’s former antidoping lab director Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov said he covered up the use of drugs as per orders of the Russian government. Urine samples were tested on all of the athletes during the Games, but the incriminating evidence was covered up with the help of the Russian intelligence service.
Canadian lawyer hired by the World Anti-Doping Agency Richard McLaren, wrote nearly 100 pages of a report as proof of Rodchenkov’s claims. IOC President Thomas Bach was shocked.
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) July 19, 2016
Since the report was confirmed only a small sample of Russian athletes have had their specimens reexamined. To figure out how many athletes benefited from doping will take even more time and money, if there is any available for it. Even if they can get that far, the IOC would have to determine which runners-up would receive new medals.
In a doping scandal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson had his gold medal stripped for taking stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, and gold was then awarded to the runner-up U.S. sprinter Carl Lewis who had also tested positive for banned substances before the Olympics but was allowed to compete through a caveat in the rules. The winner and the runner-up, both doping!
The World Anti-Doping Agency will continue to find new ways to test for banned substances and athletes and doctors will work to find ways around it.
Half of all Olympic athletes in London in 2012 were tested for banned substances, some got caught and I’m sure some didn’t. Rio’s drug tests will be arduous I’m sure, and I’m willing to bet that some athletes that top the podium in Rio don’t really deserve to be champions at all.
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