Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New World's Fastest Man; Let the Speculation Begin

Usain Bolt of Jamaica set the world record in the 100 meters on Saturday and became the World's Fastest Man. As mentioned in an earlier post, WFM is code for roid head. Knowing now what we know about former WFM's, speculation is already swirling around Bolt.

Bolt, like many WFM before him, has denied taking PED's and has not failed a drug test. Skeptics are out on front on this one because Bolt has only run the 100 five times professionally, yet in that span recorded two of the three fastest times ever. Either he truly is the fastest man and will continue to get better, or he is working with new undetectable PED's.

Even with his lack of experience in the 100, Bolt is an accomplished sprinter. He has focused in the past in the 200 meters and was the first junior sprinter to break 20 seconds. At the 2007 world championships, Bolt finished second to Tyson Gay. Ironically enough, Gay, the 2007 world champion in the 100, finished second to Bolt on Saturday with a time of 9.85.

Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of NY Road Runners and race director for the NYC Marathon said, "I think we can believe these performances more than ever before. I think there's a higher level of fear among agents, coaches and athletes than ever before, and I think that is serving us well."

I disagree with Mrs. Wittenberg. Why do athletes use PED's? Because they work. The amount of money involved in becoming the WFM, endorsement deals, gold medals has become so big that the temptation to dope is overwhelming. Does Marion Jones regret cheating? No, she and Tim Montgomery regret getting caught lying to the feds.

When an athlete sees their former heroes shamed and admit to doping, it will only lead them to choose to dope. This naivete to think the controls and fear we have in place are sufficient has led track and field to become a fringe sport where the majority of people who follow it, assume some, if not most, athletes are doping of some kind.

Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, cited Bolt's conscience and the fact that Bolt does not even take vitamin C as reasons why his client is clean. Gay has voluntarily entered into a program where he is being tested regularly to diffuse some of the skepticism of his performance. Gay admited the sport has a credibility issue when he said, "People will have suspicions probably as long as track and field is going on."

Not taking vitamin C does not preclude you from taking an undetectable steroid and being tested regularly could be seen as a pr stunt if Gay is on an undetectable steroid. The cheaters are usually always ahead of the enforcers, but hopefully there are a few clean athletes who mean what they say and years from now don't have the mea culpa in front of the courthouse, but don't hold your breath.

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