Allow me to explain.
The fact is that drugs continue to dirty our sport. And that is because there is not ONE policy globally in how to treat athletes who have been banned for six months or more. USADA and WADA have done an exemplary job with the exception of a few things: focusing on Lance Armstrong, busting athletes for Marijuana, and the need of testing that can hold up in courts of law or arbitration.
The Euromeetings meet managers put a line in the sand. Athletes with two year drug bans are not welcome in their events. Now, there are meets that will get around it. Most are not members of the Euromeetings group.
The Athletes Managers group, AAM, has agreed that manager members should not represent an athlete with a ban of two years or more. Most follow the rule, however, as in all things, some will do their own thing.
The issue is, where does the line in the sand go? When does it start?
There is also the idea of jurisprudence. US and British law has some differences. Americans tend to, as part of our national culture, see someone who has served time or a ban, for that matter, as someone who should be given a second chance. In Lausanne, Dihiba, the women who served a two year ban for EPO, was able to get a court to support her desire to race at Athletissima as there were not many opportunities for her to compete at that level. A judge gave her a ruling that supported her right to race at that elite level, citing the unique chances for her to race at that level.
Justin Gatlin has let his legs do the talking. He is running well and he, is of course, tested. In the end, the US team will most likely use him in the 4 x 100m relay and that will cause some complications in meetings in Euro meeting membership.
So, the truth is, Justin Gatlin will find some places to race, just like he did last year. This year, there will be a larger focus on the sprinter. In many ways, Gatlin is similar to Dwain Chambers situation in UK.
Many Europeans see Justin Gatlin and LaShawn Merritt as examples of how drug ridden our sport is in the U.S. The truth is in between: while we have more effective drug testing, the suspicions are that athletes with money, specifically lots of it, can find ways to develop designer drugs that will not, at this time be triggered by USADA and WADA testing. But this is around the world, and the issue is there-there are cheaters who are not getting caught. And some federations have drug testing that is, well, a joke.
The fact is that USADA tests USA Track & Field athletes in the tens of thousands of tests. Just go and see how many out of competition tests are done on other sport federations. Some of the athletes feel like pin cushions.
It is a fact of their sports life.
It should not be a shock that drugs play such a place in our sport. Our society welcomes drug use, from coffee to pain killers, to weight reduction medicine. There is a pill for everything, just watch TV in US (in Europe, pharmaceutical advertising is much more controlled.) Our false god of sports, with the golden calf of money, money, money, gives some even more rationalization for cheating.That is why, I believe speaking of a clean, ethical sport is key. Right and Wrong are not casual topics.
On the other hand, as tests are made by humans, how does one deal with false positives, which happen. How does one deal with that, or does one look the other way, as catching a cheat requires " any means necessary." I fear that this is the lesson that we have learnt as WADA and USADA pursue Mr. Armstrong.
My gut tells me that what should happen is that the IOC should just make a ruling, which would mean all members of the IAAF would have to follow. If athletes who have been banned are not allowed to race in Olympics, then they should not be able to race, period. Federations will seldom choose to take the higher road when a medal is in play. The greatest addition that Dr. Rogge, the President of the IOC could do is deal a death blow to drug cheating and the mixed message it currently gives: Six month ban or more, and the part is over, no more competition ever. The message to fans, athletes, coaches, sponsors would be overwhelming. The message would be clear: cheat, and get caught, your life as an athlete is over.
The mixed messages sent out right now, at least in North America, and non-Euro meetings events, is confusing and takes the focus off the sport and those who run, jump and throw clean.
About fifteen years ago, I was sitting in the stands of a track meet. I was taken to task by a real track fan. He told me that he hoped and prayed that Ben Johnson, the disgraced sprinter, came back and ran 9.8 totally clean, being tested every week if they had to!
Why, I asked?
Because, the person said, you can not make a race horse out of a work horse.
But, he was wrong. They can. Or better yet, we believe that drugs can do just about anything.
I love this sport. I have found few athletes, officials or even Boards of Directors of federations that I do not admire for their love and drive to make the sport better.
Let's really open this discussion and make this a learning moment. I request your thoughts and comments, please send to [email protected].
MONACO (MON): The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the headquarters of which are situated in the Principality of Monaco, is delighted to offer best wishes and congratulations to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Miss Charlene Wittstock on their forthcoming marriage. HSH Prince Albert, Alexandre, Louis, Pierre, the Sovereign Prince and Marquis des Baux, a member of the IOC, who is Honorary President of the International Athletic Foundation and the Monegasque Athletics Federation, will marry Miss Charlene Lynette Wittstock, a South African national, who is a former school teacher and Olympic swimmer, in a civil ceremony in Monaco on Friday 1 July, with a religious service following on Saturday 2 July 2011. Informs IAAF and adds that the IAAF offices will be closed during the wedding period which is a public holiday in Monaco.
BLAKE WILL BE READY
KINGSTON (JAM): Coach Glen Mills is predicting 'fireworks' from 21-year-old Yohan Blake, at the upcoming World Championships in Daegu. "Yohan was not healthy at the meet, and come World Championships we will see the best from Yohan as I expect a lot of fireworks from him," said Mills, whose athlete clocked 10.09 seconds. Powell won in 10.08. "I was able to perform well at the National Championships because I worked hard in training and coach Mills is a great coach," he said. Writes Jamaica Gleaner. It is not yet confirmed when he will be back on the circuit in Europe.
GATLIN IN EUROPE
REIMS (FRA): Former US world and olympic winner Justin Gatlin who qualified for World Championships for the 100 m will come to Europe for the circuit already early July. He is scheduled for the 100 m at the Reims Meeting in France on July 5. It is meet of French series Pro Athle Tour and is not Euromeetings member. Another top star of the event is Cuban world record holder Dayron Robles for the 110 m hurdles.
HOORN (NED) : Dutch athletics federation KNAU reports the death of board member Rien Stout. Stout died at the age of 71 after a long battle with sickness. Stout was best known as a speaker for several KNAU championships and events and has spent a life extremely active in sports.
AMSTERDAM (NED): Simon Vroemen reports on his website that the CAS has postponed its verdict over his doping case for at least another three weeks. Vroemen was first released from all charges but later was suspended for two years. His two year doping ban has now been completed but the case is still not settled by the CAS. Vroemen admitted that the charges so far have cost him close to 100,000 euro.
BAD LANGENSALZA (GER): European champion Christian Reif and European indoor champion Sebastian Bayer are the home stars for the special long jump competition in Bad Langensalza on July 2nd. Both athletes will face Mitchell Watt from Australia. In the women's competition Bianca Kappler is the home favourite but she will face Olympic champion Maurren Maggi and European indoor champ Naide Gomes.
LONDON (GBR): General Electric Co. has extended its global Olympic sponsorship beyond London 2012 and through until 2020 in a multi-million dollar deal. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) revealed at a special ceremony in Moscow GE will continue as a top-level sponsor for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2108 Winter Games and 2020 Summer Olympics writes Insidethegames.
JOHANNESBURG (RSA): South African world 800m champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi is comfortable without the favourite tag in his build-up to the IAAF World Championships in Daegu. Mulaudzi's mentor Hezekiel Sepeng said he was happy with his athlete's progress despite his late start to the season.
MADRID (ESP): Spain's sports minister says IOC President Jacques Rogge wants Madrid to bid for the 2020 Olympics. Albert Soler says the International Olympic Committee head told him Madrid's project is "strong" since little investment was necessary. Madrid made unsuccessful bids for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics reports Sports Illustrated.
BERLIN (GER): The Berlin Sports Museum is naming its newest collection to one of the major supporters of the Sports Museum, David E. Martin, who has been donating items to the Berlin Sports Museum with every visit since 2008 and now he has given the major part of his athletics/marathon library to the Berlin Sports Museum. In 1994, upon the suggestion of Horst Milde (founder and long-time race director of the Berlin Marathon), the AIMS Congress gave the museum the title "AIMS Marathon-Museum of Running". Since then, the AIMS Marathon Museum of Running has been constantly receiving running artefacts and it has become a magnet for numerous experts from the marathon world.
PORTHSMOUTH (GBR): The Bupa Great South Run weekend, in which the central attraction is the world's leading ten mile road race, is to feature a new event for the first time this year with the introduction of a 5K event. On Saturday 29th October, on the same day as the Bupa Junior and Mini Great South Runs, the Bupa Great South Run 5k will be staged while the Bupa Great South Run will be staged on the 30th October. The Bupa Great South Run has been closed for general entries for a number of weeks, with the 24,000 capacity having been reached.