It is often said that the drug testing technology cannot keep up with those looking to gain an illegal advantage in sport. Is the same true of some sports administrators?
It may not be any fault of their own, as no doubt a sports management degree fails to tell its graduates how to stay apace with the sport they end up working in, but it does feel that many sports are running away from those administering it. That those administrators have let go of the reins and the sport has bolted.
Which brings us nicely to Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. On Friday night he was back at London’s Olympic stadium, where not surprisingly he won yet another race. A race he was paid UKL150,000 tax free at the insistence of the Chancellor of England.
Athletics is struggling under a dope testing regime that is catching far too many of its athletes trying to gain an unfair and illegal advantage. So Bolt’s victory was a welcome relief. So much so that the IAAF – the sport’s international governing body – Tweeted on its official Twitter account “Anyone got any questions? Didn’t think so.”
Not surprisingly many have raised eyebrows at such a comment coming from an International Governing body of a sport. Do the heads of these organisations not choose carefully those they put in charge of their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages? This is not an area that can be given to some enthusiastic under paid fan of the sport, as the content reflects on the sport as a whole.
Just as Athletes are unwise to let a Manager run their Facebook and Twitter pages so too do sport’s governing bodies need to be very careful.
Some have felt that the comment on Friday was almost provocative. One thing it does show is the general feeling in Athletics today.
Usain Bolt has never tested positive for any performance enhancing substances. He has always stated that he welcomes the increase in drugs tests he has had to undergo, and has always advocated harsher punishments for those caught using chemically-induced performance enhancers.
He has even been critical of Tyson Gay whose two year ban for testing positive to a banned substance in 2013 was cut in half on account of him co-operating with authorities. Yet interestingly it is hard to find Bolt so free to criticise Justin Gatlin who despite serving a ban has returned unrepentant, and with an almost greater swagger.
The Tweet from the IAAF is naive in the extreme. Sports fans across the globe want to believe that Usain Bolt is clean, but on account of the fact that so many of the men trying to keep up with him are not, it is human nature that there may be those who openly question his results, and others who simply raise an eyebrow.
The late Florence Griffith-Joyner smashed the 100m and 200m World records at the Olympic Games in 1988. No other female has come close to either record. Flo Jo, as she was known, never tested positive to a drugs test. Yet many still question, rightly or wrongly, whether she was “clean.” Her early passing in 1998 aged just 38 of an epileptic seizure in her sleep did little to help quell the voices of the doubters.
Chris Frome just won the Tour de France, a man respected and held in high esteem by sports fans as well as those in the world of Cycling. Yet there are still those who question his victory, not based on anything that he has done, but based on the actions of others in his sport.
It is not fair to judge on that basis, but it is understandable. Fans want their heroes to be real, and authentic. Too often in the past 30 years we have been let down when we find out that their success has been a sham.
In 2013 the New Yorker magazine portrayed Usain Bolt as “a man dominating a dirty sport as his rivals and team mates fall.” They went on to say “It wouldn’t be a surprise if one day this summer Bolt starts talking about misreading the label on a herbal supplement…or a decade from now he ends up talking to Oprah.”
Many fans of athletics and genuine sports fans hope that neither of these scenarios ever happen. For the sake of the sport they hope that Bolt is the genuine article. It is unthinkable to think of the ramifications if he wasn’t. As well as the egg that would be left on the faces of the IAAF following a Tweet such as the one they posted on Friday.