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  • major philosophy difference for the sport

    What has bothered me for some time about the Kelli White case and many other cases is not the innocent-until-proven guilty issue or other legalisms- those are red herrings.
    The core issue is this- and it's evident that followers of the sport are divided into two very distinct camps----

    The issue is whether 'chemical training' is a legitimate fair way of preparing for competition. And I'm talking about what have been cavalierly lumped together as 'supplements'.

    Those who seem to be on the "not only yes, but you can't train effectively in this modern age without it" camp also argue that once you acknowledge that it's legitimate, then the ONLY thing that's illegitimate is if a substance is SPECIFICALLY called out on a banned list. These were practically the very words out of Kelli White's mouth in explaining why she didn't declare the stuff that turned up the positive test.
    You thus become a fool if you DON'T exploit any banned list oversights to the maximum.
    This totally ignores the "spirit of the rule" argument, that says that training should be done by external means (pumping iron, interval training) and "natural" diet planning only- what mix of orange juice, rice, fish and so on to eat.

    There has always been a side argument on whether a specific medication to address an immediate need is okay, if no significant athletic gain is achieved- in other words-
    have a headache? take an aspirin
    have a cold? take a nasal congestion clearer-upper
    and so on
    and it seems that in many cases the IAAF agrees that THAT'S okay.

    But those are not repetitive daily dosages FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE than athletic training. Such as the observation that 'the supplement allows the body to recover faster from strenous muscle and joint stresses which the ordinary citizen never experiences'.

    From the raid yesterday of the clinic which Kelli White, Barry Bonds and many other professional athletes frequent, it appears that this clinic was specifically in the business of developing chemical training programmes for their clients, and guaranteeing that it could be done outside the WADA testing regime or the NFL or MLB testing regime (laughable though the latter two may be).
    For all I know this clinic also had a lab developing ever more exotic mixtures which they were confident could always stay one step ahead of the 'banned' lists. I don't know this for a fact, but it sure smells that way. Is this any different than what the East German labs were doing in the 70's and 80's?

    There are a great number of you on this list, who seem to think there is nothing wrong with that- supplements are a reasonable progression in the development of modern athletes. I've also heard the argument in support of this camp, that the IAAF only bans those chemicals which are known to be harmful to the athlete.

    You and I know that harmful chemicals are indeed banned, but "aiding chemicals" are ALSO banned whether they are harmful or not. You cannot deny this.

    Those on the OTHER side of the argument respond that this puts the best chemicals (this camp always calls them chemicals, not supplements- but you and I know they're the same thing) always in the hands of the countries who have the best laboratories and the best pharmaceutical industries, and the economies to support it, and that massive ingestions of these kinds of chemicals has unknown long-term effects. This is debatable when you see the Africans leading the way on EPO. But their strongest argument is that chemical aids are in conflict with the original intent of the sport, which boils down to two athletes taking what God gave them and racing to see who's faster. They argue that once you depart from the 'use what God gave you' stipulation, it's only a matter of time- decades, centuries perhaps, before we see both mechanical and chemical implants and biological gene manipulation, all in the interest of sports success. And that that is NOT in the best interests of our y!

    Which camp are YOU in?

    Anybody who claims that they were caught for stuff like "nandro" because it was in a mismarked supplement that they were taking (specifically as a compliment to their athletic training)- well it's hard for me to have much sympathy for them, because I think they were violating the spirit of the sport to begin with.
    If you had any doubt which camp I'm in, it's now obvious.

  • #2
    Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

    i agree that track and field events should be won and lost with hard work and trying to maximize the ability god gave you. when you say otherwise countries (and individuals) that have the best doctors and economics have the advantage that is absolutely correct. with enough money you can not only get performance enhancers and hire the top people in that field for advice on how to beat the tests, even if you are caught you can get the best lawyers to get you off. unfortunately there will always be cheaters and if they have money like top stars usually do, they have a good chance to get away with it, not just in track and sports but in all facets of life.


    • #3
      Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

      We are currently in no man's land, where there is a constant struggle to stay one step ahead of the dope police. This is a phase that we will eventually grow out of when blood/tissue samples will make cheating virtually impossible. Until then we have the untenable position of trying to catch eels barehanded. Afterwards it will simply not be a problem. Genetic engineering will take over as the main problem and then that will get fixed, then something else will arise to take its place. All we can ever do is TRY to keep the playing field as level as possible so the best (trained) athlete wins. This is not a great solution, but it is the only one.


      • #4
        Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

        It does seem that there are two "camps" of thought about performance enhancement, but, to me, the border between the camps is not easily defined.

        I was fortunate enough to know a fellow who was a world-class miler and Olympian in the 1920's. By his account, most high school competitors at that time simply showed up on meet days, ran or jumped or threw, and the best athlete won. In college, or beyond, some "training" occured but nothing like the sort of conditioning and technique work that became standard by the 1950's.

        By the time I was competing in the 1960's we were lifting weights and using film to analyse technique. Were those advances un-natural or an unfair advantage? We thought it was smart (progressive, even!)... why not take advantage of available technology and knowledge of physiology? Of course such methods put folks from 3rd World countries at a tremendous disadvantage when competing with athletes from the USA or the Soviet Union. The gap in performance between athletes from wealthy nations and underdevelop countries in those days may have been similar to, or even greater than, the gap between clean and juiced up athletes in modern times.

        Forty years ago, when I became aware that some of my peers were using steroids, my initial reaction was that this was merely another method of developing strength and speed. At that time it did not occur to me that steroid use was qualitatively different than the cortisone shots and ultra-sound therapy I was getting to speed recovery from tendinitis (isn't "legitimate" drug use in rehab a type of performance enhancer?)

        It didn't take too long to learn that both steroids and cortisone could be dangerous, but even then it seemed a matter of proper usage and administration rather than a question of morality. As a kid, I never used because dianabols were too expensive and scary (I'd seen the mottled skin and heard all the shriveled balls stories!) - not because I thought it was inherently bad or cheating.

        Now days I am appalled that so many athletes with such amazing physical gifts are willing to put their lives in jeopardy by experimenting with drug cocktails in order to gain glory or money. Even worse, some athletes who start with clean intentions eventually feel obliged to do drugs in order to stay competitive. To me, as a cranky old guy concerned with preserving a quality life as long as possible, I think drug use for performance enhancement ought to be punished by life-time banishment because of health concerns. The moral issues of who gains advantages by using specific training methods are not clear to me, but promoting healthy sport and life-style is.

        And as for genetic tampering... Yikes!


        • #5
          Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

          Very articulate writing! But be careful of facile comparisons with the old East Bloc. They were using MASSIVE amounts of steroids and hormones. One former East Bloc athlete had developed so many male characteristics that she went ahead and got a sex-change operation.


          • #6
            Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

            The whole drug issue is going to be the downfall of Olympic sports (combined, of course, with other monetary and political issues). I am against drug use in order to enhance performance. Drug use for this end is not inherently immoral, however. The only immorality I see in drug use is the potential for harming ones body. To this end, I am against anabolic means of enhancing performance. However, I am absolutely against the drug "authorities" in their pursuit of ruling out just about any over-the-counter medication a person might need in order to overcome various illnesses that are a part of everyday life. The list of drugs has become ridiculous, and the EUROPEAN system of GUILTY TILL PROVEN INNOCENT flies SMACK IN THE FACE of United States foundations of justice. Given that the USATF has been give the status of LEGAL entity by the United States Congress, any and all regulations that the USATF endorses or submits to (e.g., IAAF/IOC/WADA) are defacto subject to US Constitutional review whether those governing bodies like it or not. Personally, I don't think it will be a bad thing to see the Olympic movement grind to a halt as the current system cannot continue with present regulations and form. It is unworkable. I know that I'll be withholding my monies and support from future Games, and particularly from the IAAF. I want the current system to come to a halt. This sport needs to be changed fundamentally to one of where athletes come together, voluntarily for the enjoyment of sport, without the interference of money, greed, or subject to any governing body's set of rules and regulations. Call me a dreamer, call me un-realistic, but I'll stick by my views.


            • #7
              Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

              >I know that I'll be withholding my monies and
              >support from future Games, and particularly from
              >the IAAF.

              Better convene a meeting of the IOC.


              • #8
                Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                >Very articulate writing! But be careful of
                >facile comparisons with the old East Bloc. They
                >were using MASSIVE amounts of steroids and
                >hormones. One former East Bloc athlete had
                >developed so many male characteristics that she
                >went ahead and got a sex-change operation.>>

                So the tabloids would have you believe. Isn't it just as likely that the DDR screening system was so effective that (like we suspect Ma did w/ the Chinese women) they chose "manly" women who had high levels of natural testosterone? Isn't women's athletics, after all, mostly about which women have the most male characterstiscs? (in a speed/strenght sense; this isn't a slam at "ugly" women)


                • #9
                  Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                  I have been a fan of the sport since the late 70's and as time goes by I find that the subject of drug use becomes more and more confusing. When it was a matter of using drugs such as steroids or stimulants things were pretty clear cut and I thought they shouldn't be used. But then people started receiving bans for such things as an out of the range testosterone/epitestosterone ratio without any other evidence of drug use. I have enough biological training to know that biological systems do not always operate within the norm and that a test like that may indicate abuse but it does not confirm it.

                  My latest source of confusion is EPO. Why do you get a 2 year ban for using it when nothing happens to you for using a hyperbaric chamber as Radcliffe and Kannouchi do? They are both artificial means for boosting the oxygen carrying ability of the blood. As far as I can tell the only difference is that one involves a pill and the other doesn't. Seems to me if you're going to ban one you need to ban the other.

                  Does the IAAF have a written policy somewhere that describes their philosophy regarding artificial performance boosters? If they do, do they follow it?

                  I expect to be dead before this issue ever becomes coherent.


                  • #10
                    Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                    Somewhat delusional. Try joining the Y, because thats where these athletes would be living if someone with those beliefs was to decide. Would we suggest that our local retailer stop paying his salespeople commission to facilitate more accurate and responsible product information? or that Corporate America not pay it's exec's 6,7 and 8 figure salaries in an attempt to keep retirees from loosing their life savings and working class their jobs? These seem to be much more urgent considering sports are ultimately entertainment- a somewhat less critical element of quality of life. Just like all sports some athletes tread into to dangerous waters, some out of suspicion of others, some out of greed. The answer: Make only enforceable rules and enforce them across the board with no exceptions while allowing a resposible mesure of checks and balances to allow for and correct human error. Promoters will profit regardless, so why exploit athletes and promote performances that will not allow us to compete competively on an International level? Without adequate incentives the best won't show. A million dollar desire will work its way to fruition anyway and anywhere it can. This is the core of corruption.
                    Bottom line is we must be responsible to everything in our world. We should work to change the system to benefit the sport rather than simply making observations creating an unmerciful and irresponsible game of hang-man. True fans of athletics owe it to the sport and our youth.


                    • #11
                      Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                      Sorry, I have no idea what you are practically suggesting. I know I'm dense, but please explicate.


                      • #12
                        Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                        ooops! reply to Kurt Francis earlier post.


                        • #13
                          Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                          "Isn't women's athletics, after all, mostly about which women have the most male characterstiscs?"

                          Strange ideas floating around out let's have some fun with this logic. Pamela Anderson and Britney Spears have a race. Pamela wins in a photofinish in spite of (and thanks to) her cleavage. Therefore Britney is more of a woman than Pamela because Pam is the better athlete.

                          Here's another one for you: let's assume every other man on this planet can sprint 100 metres in 11 seconds (and the Pope has a great sex life and an open mind) about half the men on Earth are more womanly than Evelyn Ashford and every other woman sprinter who's gone sub-11.



                          • #14
                            Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                            I have been quite surprised that since I started this thread yesterday evening there have few respondees with an opposing view.
                            I expected just the opposite, based on the tone of recent postings on TFN.

                            I figured maybe they were out watching Friday night high school football or something.
                            Or maybe they are just exhausted from the World Championships e-mail traffic.

                            I was just trying to take a stab at stating what appeared to the basis for the two primary opposing positions in a way which took much of the emotional passion out of BOTH sides of the argument, and reduced it to the gist of things.
                            I may or may not have succeeded, that's up to you
                            the reader to decide, and of course your opinion on whether I successfully captured the essence of the positions may be influenced by how strongly you feel one way or the other.

                            I was hoping to attract others to respond with opinions based on positions or factors which I may have missed or misinterpreted.

                            One of the additional factors is professionalism, as has been hinted by a few respondees.
                            It may be that one of the influences in the increase in pursuit of chemical training aids is money. The eastern block seemed to lead the way in the 70's when their athletes were professional for all intents and purposes- it was basically 'dope or go home and get a job as a welder because you won't be a member of any state-sponsored athletics club'. Those who chose to remain in the club in pursuit of international fame for the DDR/USSR,etc were handsomely rewarded (compared to fellow citizens) with economic incentives.
                            When the rest of the world went professional in the early 80's, the same attraction to money may have enticed many to begin to consider ethical compromises, when they never would have considered such a thing before. Thus the emotional demonstration by Jon Drummond in Paris when DQ'd (of course that had nothing to do with doping)- when reduced to a bread-on-the-table issue, and the available money gets more and more limited as the GP circuit in Europe has begun to struggle, there is more and more of a fight for pieces of a smaller and smaller economic pie, and that *desperation* is revealed in displays by people like Christie and Drummond (who may have never even been tempted to raise such a stink when they were amateurs in high school or university), and in 'walking the razor's edge of supplementing/doping by athletes who otherwise wouldn't even go close to the stuff.
                            It's the EXACT same motivation for Africans and EPO.
                            Back in the 50's and 60's when there was no economic motivating factor, there also wasn't any big pursuit of dope by athletes- just isolated cases. If they had a 'day job', and t&f was just a hobby to pursue, there was nothing lost economically if they DIDN'T get a medal.

                            Now I'm NOT saying we should go back to AAU 'shamateur' days- that was horrible.

                            Here's my proposal to try to fix it:
                            One of the best ways to 'level the playing field' and take away the economic incentive to compromise one's ideals and cheat, is to give all elite athletes above a certain level a 'salary', and only MODEST performance bonuses for medals and records.
                            This plan could be administered by the IAAF, who would become the 'employer' for elite athletes.
                            It also means that the IAAF would have to take over 'ownership' of the GP circuit. They would then 'contract back' meet management services for a negotiable fee) to the current meet promoters. IAAF could also contract back meet marketing & advertising to those same current meet promoters, or do it themselves, or a combination of the two. Of course this would probably be fought by
                            GP circuit promoters, who stand to lose a lot if the current economic model were tossed in the trash bin- on the other hand European GP meets are going belly up by the dozens these days, so who knows- maybe they'd be willing to sit down and discuss change.
                            But to athletes, any gain to be achieved by doping- only those modest performance bonuses- would be FAR outweighed by the risk of loss of your basic salary. It only works if the top performance bonuses are a mere fraction of the basic salary that all elite athletes were to get.
                            Another piece of an economic model that might help would be if elite athletes were put into a 'profit sharing plan'- they get a piece of the pie for any profits that a GP meet returns.
                            If ten world record holders enter a meet and ticket sales spike up, all elite athletes share in the gate profits, not just the record holders (who already got their modest performance bonuses).
                            Again, meet promoters will likely have a hissy fit over any profit sharing plan proposal- another reason that the IAAF would have to take over the circuit to make it work.

                            My plan also does not address the economic incentives provided by athletic apparel companies. I'm open to ideas on how to cut them out of the 'bad temptation $$$' picture.


                            • #15
                              Re: major philosophy difference for the sport

                              >Here's my proposal to try to fix
                              One of the best ways to 'level the playing
                              field' and take away the economic incentive to
                              compromise one's ideals and cheat, is to give
                              all elite athletes above a certain level a
                              'salary', and only MODEST performance bonuses
                              for medals and records.<

                              I don't think this is at all practical. Can you think of a single legitimate individual (non-team) sport that operates on this economic model? I can't.