Tuesday 25th August
In the end Usain Bolt managed to beat twice convicted drugs cheat Justin Gatling in the World Championships in Beijing. Well, that was the headline comment on the BBC. An immense wave of relief washed over the whole sporting establishment. At last they had a winner who was clean. For now. And please realize I do not for one moment suspect the Lightning Bolt of cheating. It is just that so many sporting heroes have been found using illegal substances that it is very hard to actually believe that any have not. And that is not again to accuse the athletes themselves. There is so much money now in Sport, and in Athletics too (where years ago they were all Alf Tuppers) and all top athletes have an entourage which includes trainers, managers, publicists and dieticians that there is more and more pressure to keep winning, because so many people rely on the money keeping on rolling in. And there is a fine line between what is considered a legal supplement and that which is presently deemed illegal that it is no surprise that athletes are sometimes caught out by their over-zealous training staff.
Until every athlete is checked both regularly and during and after every championships and the results published will any real confidence return to the sport.
And of course there are different degrees of “cheating”. No-one can forgive Lance Armstrong who won the Tour de France seven times and always denied using drugs, only to be found out later and bring fresh doubt on every endurance cyclist since. I suspect that many athletes simply do not know if they are “cheating” and blindly trust their staff. Unfortunately it is impossible to tell the knowing from the unknowing. But of course the BBC assures us that our British Athlets like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah are clean. But it may sadly be a case of innocent until found guilty.