Track and Field Returns to Center Stage, as Do Doping Concerns

The world track and field championships are set to begin in Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics and where the talk entering the meet has hardly been about the races.

Comments: 16

  1. All proven guilty of doping must be expelled from sport.
    Look, nothing could be more plainly apparent: doping is cheating.
    If you cheat, you must be banned for life, and all of your fraudulent records must get expunged. Period.
    Moreover, to rid sport of this deadly scourge, every complicit coach and trainer must likewise be banned for life. No exceptions.
    Pussyfooting around this moral issue is contemptible and intolerable.
    Make no corrupt quibble or cowardly mistake: MONEY is at the base of this, and that toxic taint must not destroy the very sport itself.
    So, I repeat and assert: if you dope, you're done.
    Clean house and be clear: there's virtue and value in fair play!
    So, make it so, and forever deny those who would have it otherwise.

  2. Take the ultimate step. Lifetime bans for all spectators who attend athletic events in which those cheaters participate. No spectators, no money, no motivations to cheat. Watching cheaters is just as corrupt as being the cheater.

  3. There's no more doping going on in track and field than in the "major" sports, like the NFL and it's NCAA farm system. Boys don't become giant men from high school to college to the pros by eating a lot -- although I'm sure they need to do that. They get huge and muscular through HgH (human growth hormones) and many other steroidal meds that can be micro-dosed so as to avoid detection.

    And will the NFL ever actually have drug testing that involved random tests by independent labs, and require biological passports such as professional cycling has instituted? Don't hold your breath.

    The fact is, the uses of performance enhancing drugs has been, and likely always will be, part of professional sports. Certainly, American fans wouldn't have it any other way.

  4. "Do you think other sports would take some of their biggest stars and let you guys know that they did something very wrong? No. "

    I wonder if he had anyone specific in mind when he said this.

  5. Cheats make huge amounts of money. From endorsements and sponsorships in developed countries and from government incentives in the developing world. That's why they cheat. If Governments and National Federations all over the world decided to catch the cheats instead of giving importance to medals won at World Championships and Olympics, doping could be curbed to a great extent. Today the 'establishment' colludes with cheats in order to attain what both feel could be 'glory'. The IAAF may consider banning countries with the maximum number of top-ranked cheats in a year.

  6. Any salient story about track and field in a major American newspaper is a good thing.

    Alas, doping will not go away. It's cheating but I don't know how they will stop it. The cheaters are always one step ahead of the testers.

    On another topic, Bolt is so big for a sprinter, he always makes you wonder if he could do a Bob Hayes. Bolt is bigger, and much faster. Hayes, for all his glory, dropped a lot of balls. You'd have to think an NFL team would like Bolt just to stretch the field 6-8 times a game. A cornerback alone on him would be risky. Doubling him would really open up other receivers as well as the run game. I do not think Bolt would be an every down player, but perhaps worth a place on the roster - if he could catch the ball with a certain percentage of regularity.

    A team with a really strong-armed quarterback - like Joe Flacco - might make Bolt a player. But that is rank speculation until a guy puts on pads.

  7. Allen Johnson has it right: Track and field has long been the most aggressive sport in combating drug cheats, and it has been a case of "no good deed goes unpunished." MLB, NFL, and even soccer have been very late to the game.

    Jenny Simpson is also right: Justin Gatlin served a suspension under the rules at the time, and now the rules say he is allowed back. So that must be respected.

  8. I think drugs should be legalized. It is a huge waste of time and money. Most users get away with it, and most everyone at the top levels has used. The only people that really care are the bookies. Plus everyone else is using... artists, writers, musicians, actors. Plus who knows about doctors, and ... well, everyone else?

  9. Track & field has long kvetched that other sports' attitudes is: "We don't have a doping problem like track does. Our athletes shoot up, do amazing stuff, the fans cheer, we fail to catch them, no problem."

    In contrast, way back the 1988 Olympics, track & field disqualified its biggest star, Ben Johnson, two days after he beat Carl Lewis in a world record time in the 100m dash. Granted, Benoid was so out of his skull on PEDs that his eyeballs were turning yellow, but it took decades for baseball and cycling to do anything similar. A friend who is a sports agent told me in 1993 that "Jose Canseco is the Typhoid Mary of steroids," but it was well into the 21st Century before baseball did much to penalize cheaters. And we still haven't seen football or basketball do much of anything to penalize a superstar for PEDs.

    So track has a point that it's bad reputation relative to other sports has more to do with its trying somewhat harder to catch cheaters.

  10. I read a book about bike racing back in the thirties, and there was doping then. It seems to me that watching sports is rather boring. You should be out participating. If everyone took the they spent watching sports, and used the time to exercise many of our heath problems would be gone. Disclalaimer. Yesterday I spent two hours riding my bicycle, two hours swimming, and then two hours mowing my grass with a push mower that has no motor. I am 67.

  11. What is happening with the assessment of STEM cell treatments as "performance enhancers"? Surely there are some issues there. Kobe goes to Europe regularly to have STEM cell treatments on his knees. How are sports regulators going to deal with this? If blood doping in its many forms (some involving storing your blood and reinjecting it in the body before a competition to increase red blood cell count) and HGH (human growth hormone) are banned surely STEM cell treatments whose impacts is truly still not completely understood needs to be looked at closely. This will add another layer of mess to the whole testing for/process as detecting STEM cell treatments could prove difficult.

  12. Doping has ruined spectator sports. Who knows who isn't taking drugs? All new records are suspect.

    Watching the spectacles enables the sorry mess.

    Just say no!

  13. Those who build mega stadiums must be on dope. The audience doesn't want to be watching specks of dust on a postage stamp. They want to be able to see the show well with their own eyes. Otherwise they may as well stay home and watch it on TV. Mega stadiums are an extremely low-quality venue while in the stadium and even worse considering the parking and traffic problems. A football stadium for example should have no more than 11 rows of seats. If you go to see a band, the place should be small enough to hear an acoustic guitar well without amplification.

  14. "Do you think other sports would take some of their biggest stars and let you guys know that they did something very wrong? "

    I wonder if Mr. Johnson has been paying attention or ever watched another sport. For this is exactly what cycling has done for most of the past two decades (albeit reluctantly at times). And while it may or may not be any cleaner, it's still thriving.

  15. In my humble opinion, the only way to stop doping is to actually arrest the culprits, throw them in jail, and make them pay back the money they 'stole' from the other athletes. After all, in a professional sport, the cheaters are actually defrauding their fellow contestants out of money, no different than a con man swindling an unknowing victim.

  16. The first of Gatlin's violations involved the usage of amphetamines. Gatlin has taken adderall for ADHD since he was a kid. He pled guilty and got a light sentence because there was doubt he had done anything wrong. The second violation was a serious one. He was suspended for 4 years, after whih he returned to racing. Not only did he do his time but he came back at a competitive level despite the long layoff. I have seen Gatlin race a number of times in Eugene. I have never heard anyone in the crowd at Hayward Field -- the most knowledgeable track fans out there -- suggest that Gatlin is anything but the greatest American sprinter who has paid his dues and has had a remarkable career. When Gatlin races Bolt I'll be cheering for the American as I pretty much always do.