Friday, 21 September 2007

Doping- What does it herald for Sport?

We’ve all heard for drug cheats and the list is quite long if I start enumerating them, it will fill this write this article. It is also disturbing that despite most sporting bodies having strict dope testing rules, more and more allegations keep arising. The most famous cheat though was one Ben Johnson-Canadian sprinter –who had won the 1988 Olympics in record-breaking time 9.79 secs, only for the tests to reveal use of steroids. This led to nullification of all the records held by the athlete. Sports had finally found out an alien likely to kill it and reduce it to a fad. My antennae was all up during the Tour de France (changed to Tour de Farce due to the doping allegations), The All-Africa Games disgraced Nigerian athlete and weightlifter, the current home-runs record holder Barry Bonds alleged use of the performance-enhancing drugs to list but a few. Locally the bug bit hard on the weight-lifter D. Obiero. Even more disturbing is the open and often reckless use of the drugs in professional wrestling. The consequences have been dire as revealed recently by the suicide of a famous wrestler taking with him his wife and one child.
Steroids, blood-cleaning drugs, disguising drugs, name it is a bad name to sport. Their motive: winning. In sport, it is common word that second, third and other consequent positions don’t count except for No. One. The coaches, managers, trainers and people around top players, athletes, and performers will ensure anything to take that 1st position. Another related reason to this is the need to engage in as many games as possible and maintain good performances. This is also related to the need to recover fast in the discipline one is participating in as no sports person can afford to miss his/her play-time. Loss of time means lost opportunities; income, fame and other benefits relating to commercial aspects such as endorsements. The pressure is even worse coming from the expectations of your fans such as is the case with players in team games.
We all know how tense the Argentine team during the 1994 World Cup. Having lost the Cup to Germany in the previous World Cup and one of the best players ever to have graced the sport with the sun setting on, Diego Maradona. The players looked up to one last moment of inspiration from this player who had carried them to their 2nd title in 1986 but sadly, the footballer couldn’t redeem himself!
In a moment of exasperation sometime back some official was heard saying that there ought to be two separate Olympic Games, one for non-drugged athletes and those that have been using drugs.
That’s a dangerous point of view but somehow almost headed there. Don’t we all look back to when Games and sports events were won fair and square (OK I think I just lied right there!). We’ve heard people speculate that Kenyan athletes have some advantage from their physique, place of birth and others even saying the ‘morsik’( traditional Kalenjin milk drink) is a factor.
But my dilemma is, can we really have ‘fair and square’ sports?

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