PED’s, Doping, and the Current Landscape

There has been so much in the news lately about doping. The Globe and Mail published Cathal Kelly’s It’s Not About A-Rod Being Clean, it’s About him Coming Clean on November 5th. Last Thursday, following that Adam van Koeverden responded with You’re Wrong, Cathal Kelly: It is About Being Clean And today I was sent this by a friend, You Would Never Know Their Names if they had Never Taken Drugs.

On October 31 it was reported that one of Rita Jeptoo’s samples from her win at the Chicago Marathon tested positive for EPO. People are asking others to hold judgement until her B sample is tested. But according to this release she has been using PED’s since 2011, so no need for that sample!

When I heard the news I had a big think session about this on my Sunday Long Run on November 2nd.

All those questions that I’m sure have run through other’s minds spoke to me during my long run. Is she guilty? Is she the only runner using EPO? Are there others using PEDs?

In the end I realized there would never really be any answers to the questions I had. Was I angry? Was I disappointed? Was I shocked? No to all of the above. In the end I just felt a sense of sadness.

So this is were we are at. And Adam VK summarized it well in his article:

Kelly’s assertion that athletes are primarily  entertainers is what drew first blood for me. We are people, and competitors, and some people find that entertaining. We are not engaged in some choreographed act of packaged amusement. The argument that PED use is justified by an apparent enhancement of that entertainment value is absurd, and is the same perilous “dance-monkey” argument that justifies putting athletes directly in harm’s way for viewers’ enjoyment and prime-time stimulation

Society demands greater performances, which justifies the use of PEDs? Alternatively you could look at it as the only way to succeed is to cheat. Or at least that’s how it seems to be. No one was surprised when A-Rod admitted to cheating. Or Lance. Or Ben Johnson.

That’s right, in 1988 we were having the same conversation. Has anything really changed?

What makes me the most upset are the masking agents.

I know I will never take PED’s. I am very fortunate. Very, very fortunate. I came from a family with great values and a family that put a lot of importance on education (I say that as I’m about to embark on my PhD – but I’ll save that for another day).  I don’t have to run to support myself. I have a Masters in Engineering and can support myself through my engineering job. Sure it makes training more challenging at times, but I am really proud of the fact that I am one of my sponsors, that I am a female engineer, and that I am an athlete.

But these masking agents, they are what really upset me these days. I don’t want to change my eating habits. I don’t want to have to stop making my smoothie with protein powder because of what might have been in the batching machine before. I want to be able to take iron and magnesium supplements because I run so much I need a little help.

Instead I have to second guess myself all the time with what I’m eating. Not because I will ever ‘by accidentally’ ingest a steroid, but because all these people on PED’s are using other substances to mask what they are really doing.

I am really proud of the fact that I run for me. I am on the cusp of going from good to great. I want to be faster only to impress myself. I have this fire inside my belly that propels me the best I can be everyday. It reminds me why I love running. Why I love sport. That I am confident in myself and have a true sense of value to never cheat. And if I am only good in the end because I refused to cheat and be great, that’s good enough for me. I will know in my heart that I am a true champion of sport.