There has been a big outcry recently in UK athletics because of positive tests for nandrolone on Dougie Walker and Linford Christie.
There seem to be two main pieces of evidence: on the one hand, chemical analysis shows traces of the metabolites of nandrolone, which is not a naturally-occurring chemical, in samples of their urine. On the other hand, they are nice blokes who would never do that sort of thing.
The British athletics establishment has already decided, on the basis of these two facts, that both men are innocent, and they're outraged that the IAAF doesn't think the same. Jon Ridgeon, a senior man in the UK Athletics Board, actually said in a radio interview that "the important thing is for Linford to be exonerated". Not for justice to be done, not for drugs to be kept out of the sport. Shame on them.
One explanation is that the men could have taken "sports supplements" which contained "precusors of nandrolone". Presumably this was in the hope that their bodies would form their own nandrolone (which is, let us remember, a banned substance), or at least give some of the same benefits. Of course, that makes it perfectly alright, doesn't it?
Another argument put forward is that Linford Chritie had "nothing to gain" at his age by taking steroids. Let's run through that again. An ageing athlete can still command considerable appearance money on the athletics circuit, on the basis of his World and Olympic titles. However, if his performance falls to below international standard, he'll lose that. As he ages, training hurts more, and he loses muscle definition. Why would he NOT take steroids?
Or, let us consider someone who is an up-and-coming trainer of international sprinters. He may be tempted to use nandrolone to enhance the performance of his charges, but there is a chance they might test positive. However, he has a spotless reputation (except a previous positive test which he explained away as coming from that well-konwn source of stimulants, ginseng tea). If HE tests positive for the drug, no-one will believe it. The tests will be discredted and a positive test by one of his junoirs may be overturned.
This argument that "they're not the type" really rankles. Shall we divide athletes into "that type" and others, and only test those we believe are capable of using illegal aids? Isn't this the sort of "positive vetting" which made sure that Kim Philby and Guy Burgess were okay chaps who would never spy for the Russians? Maybe O.J. Simpson could have saved a big defence bill for his court case, if only he'd used the simple argument that, as one of America's best-loved sportsmen/actors, he would never butcher his wife and her friend?
Hey! That IS what O.J. said. Poor little athlete, accused of a horrible crime just because there was evidence. I mean, after all, he beat the living hell out of Nicole for YEARS and nobody minded. How was he supposed to know everyone would care so much?? But, of course, at least he has custody of the children.
My belief in a cosmic kharma is sometimes the only thing that keeps me going.
|Subject: Drugs Testing Soapbox|
Posted Aug 23, 1999 by Tom I.
This is a reply to this Posting.
What is the worst thing with professional athletes taking drugs? If you ask me, the worst thing with that is they encourage younger amateurs to do the same.
But on the other hand, the training methods of these guys are pretty extreme, aren't they? They are build, with or without chemicals, into superhumans. Their bodies achieve a lot more than an average body, and they get diseases no one else get. Things break and fall apart in their bodies, things that most of us were not aware of. All this to achieve glory and money. They use strange machines and simulation devices to train themselves. No wonder they have a hard time telling when they are cheating. After all, there are loads of legal drugs they can take! Whatever happened to those old hunting contests, where women could go and see who was the best hunter, and then pick out the husband that was most likely to get her food on the table?
Now this conversation was obviously started to debate drugs and testing in athletics. However, there are many more sports that can benefit from drugs where nobody is tested. For instance, formula one racing. Drugs that enhance reaction time would be valuable to drivers, because they could go faster but not crash as often. But there are no tests here.
This isn't to say I want testing in formula one, but my point is wider than that. After all, wasn't it our idol himself, DNA, that followed drugs in sport to its obvious conclusion - where all sportsmen take drugs and are even genetically engineered to provide more entertainment for the crowds. We have to decide just how much value we place on the purity of sport.
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