Can We Still Rely on Sport to Set the Example?
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
On the evening of 5th August 2017 the sporting world went into frenzy. Usain Bolt lost his sprinting crown and Justin Gatlin was the victor in what was the joint slowest men's 100m final since 2003.
So just who is Justin Gatlin? Gatlin is 35, from Brooklyn, New York and has been World Champion in the 100m on one previous occasion. He also broke the world record in 2006. But... has tested positive for banned substances twice. Amphetamines in 2001 and Testosterone in 2006. He has served 1 year of a 2 year ban from his positive test in 2001 and 4 years of his 8 year ban from his positive test in 2006. He has had his world record annulled too.
"So, he has served his time, right? He can't possibly be doping anymore, and it was 11 years ago so we should forgive him, everyone makes a mistake, or uses a dodgy massage cream now and again?"
In my opinion he should have been banned for life. All dopers should be banished from sport, you should get one chance to race clean, if you cheat that's it. However, the powers that be think otherwise.
So how can this relate to our sport of swimming? Is it all clean? No. Just looking at the medalists from the 2017 World Championships we had four convicted drug cheats racing. All of which won a medal of some description. In fact, if you tot up their medals and put them under the name of the "International Juicers Team" banner then they would have finished 3rd in the medal table with 3 golds, 4 silvers and 2 bronzes (including relays).
These Athletes were: Yuliya Efimova, Sun Yang, and Cesar Cielo. These are people who have already previously been caught doping and are still accepted at the highest level. That's three national team selections taken away from clean athletes, finals taken away from clean athletes and medals taken away from clean athletes.
It must be time now for World Governing Bodies of sport to take sanctions to a whole new level. Lifetime bans? So many people are calling for it. It is clear that the public have no interest in watching cheats.
However, as the WGB's cannot be bothered to deal with this issue, can we still rely on sport to deliver us the classic good always triumphing over bad, what role models will the younger generation grow up watching? The reputation of elite sport is on thin ice. It is now down to the clean athletes to step up, be loud in their opinions and force governing bodies to act!
Clean athletes have to be extremely well prepared if they are to overcome the dopers. Usain Bolt ran his slowest ever time in a major final, came 3rd and left the door open for a drug cheat to win. Obviously, it is not Bolt's look out to make sure that cheats never prosper, but what if he was slightly better prepared, slightly more with it? Would it have been a different result? Or did we need a cheat to win on a major stage? Will WGB's now take past convictions much more seriously. Lets hope so!