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#31463 - 05 Aug 06 12:42 Drugs in Sports-get over it
riccardo Offline

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Drugs in sport - just get over it

August 5, 2006

Another week, another revelation about sports stars on drugs. Mike Agostini thinks it's time to get over the shock and accept such news is inevitable.

BEFORE drugs, money was the major focus of corruption in sport. To be caught even asking for money was once as bad as being caught using performance-enhancing drugs is today. But making money is now accepted - and expected - in elite sport.

The simplest solution to the drug problem may well be to do what was done with money and simply ignore it. Maybe it'll disappear.

Money and drugs have always been part of sports and games, especially at the highest levels. Even the ancient Greek and Roman Olympics were rife with them, as well as other kinds of corruption, including gambling, event-fixing and cheating.

So what is happening now - with athletes such as Olympic and world champion sprinter Justin Gatlin, Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and Australian rugby union star Wendell Sailor, all of whom have run afoul of authorities because of drug allegations - is nothing new.

Having been involved in athletics for almost 60 years, and having made money and tried drugs, might qualify me to discuss both and even to suggest some of the causes: namely the public and the media who thrive and prosper on scandal and controversy, and those who not only take these drugs but are stupid enough to get caught.

Sport is no longer what it was designed to be: recreation and fun - at least not at the highest levels, to which most might aspire but few achieve. At these levels sports and games have become multibillion-dollar businesses, with all the risks that involves, including corruption.

The rewards are so great that many will be tempted to break the rules, which today are aimed at drug use. During my competitive years, making money was against the rules, yet I and many others broke them with impunity. The history of so-called amateur sport is littered with the remains of some of the greatest athletes of all time who were banned, denigrated and dumped after being caught making money.

As far back as 1913, the American Jim Thorpe was forced to return the gold medals he won in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics the year before because he had once played semi-professional baseball for just a few pennies. (The titles were posthumously restored in 1983.) Then there was the case of the famous Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi, winner of more Olympic gold medals and holder of more middle- and long-distance world running records than anyone, who was banned just before the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics after being caught asking to be paid to run indoors in America. Nurmi, it seems, had grown too big for his boots and some officials wanted him brought down to size.

Then in the 1940s there were two Swedes, Gunder Hagg and Arne Andersson, who looked likely to break the then seemingly impossible four-minute mile (1600 metres) barrier. Both were banned after being caught asking to be paid to perform, also in America.

The case of an American miler named Wes Santee was one of the biggest sporting scandals of the '50s. Along with the Englishman Roger Bannister and Australian John Landy, Santee was one of a trio expected to break four minutes for the mile. He never did. He was banned in the mid '50s not so much for asking to be paid as for demanding too much and being exposed by promoters who didn't mind paying, but not as much as the Kansan had asked.

There have been many others, including two prominent Australian champions (neither of whom was caught), who made much money "illegally" for appearing as well as winning. One of them, when told a Tax Office official who was also a professional athletics official intended to expose him, responded saying he knew the rules of accountancy and taxation and always declared all his "illegal" running income - and claimed deductions for expenses.

But let it be clear that not all athletes made money or even asked to be paid. But many did, including me. Having been brought up a dedicated amateur by an equally adamant amateur soccer father, I was astonished to discover money could be made in the US when I went there to study and run the indoor circuits. After I'd beaten one of my mentors, the late Andy Stanfield, 1952 Helsinki Olympic 200 metres champion and sprint relay gold medallist, he confronted me asking how much I was making.

"Making?" I said, puzzled. "I get my tuition, books, room and board in return for running for the university, and I'm happy with that."

His somewhat threatening response was: "Well, man, you better start asking for money because while you're winning and not asking, I can't make any!" Even then I wasn't as interested in money as he seemed to be, but he had a wife and children to feed.

My introduction to drugs also came through my late, great and good friend Stanfield. "Try some pepper," he urged, shoving some almond-shaped pink pills into my hand. Several other great athletes - American, mainly, as well as West Indian - used these regularly. I didn't try them then but decided to do so two years later when I was scheduled to run five races in three hours at a meeting in California. On asking the coach for these drugs I was sent to the team doctor who prescribed amphetamines for me. I won all my races and relays but didn't feel hungry or want to eat anything afterwards, nor could I get to sleep until early the next morning when I fell into a stupor. When I awoke, the headache was worse than any hangover I'd had. That was the end of my experimenting with drugs for performance enhancement. They worked, but the after-effects weren't worth it.

If I were competing today drugs might be mandatory - as the late Lew Hoad, the great Australian tennis player, and I once agreed they could well be - especially if others are using them and performing above their natural abilities.

We need to treat drugs as money was treated: ignore them. Disband the Spanish Inquisition-like World Anti-Doping Agency, which will catch only some of the drug users. Considering the expense of not only testing but trying to find ways to test for new drugs, it can never be cost-effective because the money available to drug makers and marketers will always be greater. Like money, drugs soon will not be an issue as they are now, in the media particularly.

As for the public, which is the major cause of these problems because of its craving for more excitement and better performances, maybe throwing away the stopwatches and tape-measures will remove some of the pressures.

But the real problem is that ever since God died, as declared by the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, sport has replaced religion as Karl Marx's "opiate of the masses".

So we have turned to these gods whom we have created: sports stars who are only like us - ordinary mortal humans. Yet we imbue in them qualities we often lack, such as honesty, fidelity, truthfulness, tenacity, determination and others that may be worthwhile aspiring towards in daily life, but not in sport.

It is ironic how the motto adopted by some British public schools in the 19th century, " Mens sana in corpore sano", meaning "A sound mind in a healthy body", has been adopted by many of our own sporting bodies, obviously unaware that the original quotation, by Juvenal, was shortened and actually translates as, "You should pray for a sound mind in a healthy body", which means something rather different.

Let us therefore pray that the focus now on drugs will be dropped, and maybe if we also throw away the measures used for comparing performances and focus on the competition between humans, with or without performance-enhancing substances other than their own talents, hard work, expertise and abilities, the world of sports and games could become what it should always have been: fun and enjoyment.

Mike Agostini is a Trinidad-born Australian citizen and was an Olympic sprint finalist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

#31464 - 05 Aug 06 14:40 Re: Drugs in Sports-get over it
Piss Salon Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 27 Jun 06
Posts: 4039
Loc: Jakpus
Mike Agostini is obviously a loon. Most of his pathetic 'argument' attempts to lump accepting money and taking drugs in the same basket. They are different -- one is cheating. And he wants stop watches and tape measures banned???? He obviously never stopped taking drugs. Not only is drug taking cheating but it HARMS your body. Why should a talented kid have to resort to taking such harmful substances in order to push his body past its natural limits? A level playing field for all, say I. Zero tolerance. No exceptions.
place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes

#31465 - 05 Aug 06 19:19 Re: Drugs in Sports-get over it
riccardo Offline

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
He's actually quite an interesting, intelligent guy, former world record holder in the 200 meters and went to the university in my hometown in California. My grandma was a professor there at the time and spoke fondly of him. He has written several books including one called "Death, the ultimate orgasm", look it up on amazon.

By posting it here, does not mean I agree with him, but I think what he means is 'let the drug thing play itself out' and like the money thing the realistic control mechanisms will follow. And perhaps he believes that most people will eventually decide that the long-term health damage is not worth the risk. Anyway there is no way to realistically control drugs, even with zero tolerance, which I am in full agreement with you on.
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.


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