The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Track & Field News, anti-doping

I've never been comfortable with the attitude towards doping held by the self-titled Bible of the Sport. Rarely have I been able to point to any exact words, but the general attitude seems to be one of disdain for those who worry their pretty little heads about drug use.

Their message board has a separate section for discussing the issue, as not to sully the rest of the discussion with things that, you know, actually have a bearing on track and field. Yesterday as the webcast of the Memorial Ivo Van Damme meet was about to begin, managing editor E. Garry Hill put his foot in it.
As noted awhile back on the Current Events forum; this [Dope Talk] page is closed tomorrow anyway, to give the real fans a chance sit back and enjoy the scent of a few roses instead of the sewage plant.
Implying, of course, that anyone who cares about doping isn't a real fan. He was quickly and forcefully criticized for this, and tried to backpedal but ended up pissing people off more. And these are the T&FN fans; over at Let'sRun they'd haul him off and shoot him in the public square...if they hadn't decided long ago he wasn't worth the effort.

I've only had a few encounters with Hill, some positive and some negative. My attitude went sour a few years ago when I posted something on the T&FN board; I suggested Vladimir Kuts' racing style and multiple heart attacks at an unusually young age could have been explained by drug use. Hill torched me for daring to even suggest it, yet in other situations he has defended the members of the 1968 US Olympic team who admitted steroid use (because they were not banned until 1972). We know the Soviet weightlifters were using pure testosterone as early as 1954 and possibly sooner, so I had the data to back up my speculation. It was the two-faced attitude that really got me, though.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk agrees with me that doping busts are not inherently bad, merely a means to improvement. He quotes Steve Cram as saying "There is enough time to believe that an ambitious British athlete may just find him or herself competing in London six years from now with a reasonable amount of assurance that the opposition is based purely on athletic ability". And isn't this what it's all about?

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