Why the Olympics Can Save Athletics

Athletics has experienced a very turbulent time over the last few years with some of the sports biggest stars being embroiled in scandal and institutionalised doping has also become an issue.

Mo Farah is one of these such stars, the well renowned Nike Oregon Project run by Alberto Salazar came in for criticism regarding doping especially due to Farah’s good track record since he won two gold medals at the London Olympics.

olympicrings

The Olympic Rings.

Russian athletics has been at the centre of the doping scandal, many athletes had been involved in what could be described as the biggest doping scandal of all time.

This summer in Rio de Janeiro, the Olympics has the chance to have a hugely positive impact on the sport.

The IAAF thus far has acted very poorly in dealing with the doping scandal, even since Lord Coe has taken over a number of poor decisions have been made including Coe himself staying as an ambassador for Nike despite the clothing brand continuing to sponsor disgraced two time cheat Justin Gatlin.

Usain Bolt is a very important piece of the puzzle if the Olympics is to save the sport, Bolt so far has been found to be clean of any performance enhancing drugs.

Should Bolt win his events, the 100 metres and 200 metres two events which bring in a high number of spectators and a large sum of money. Bolt has to defeat the likes of Powell, Gay and of course the arch villain Gatlin.

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Usain Bolt has never been found guilty of doping.

If Bolt was found to have taken any such drugs the sport could go to a very dark place. So far clean athletes have been a part of the athletics finals which has kept the sport afloat so far.

The stars of the games have to perform in order for the sport to save some face in Brazil and possibly take one step along what is becoming the ever longer road to redemption for athletics.

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Little Time, Big Problem

With the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games due to happen later this year, athletics finds itself embroiled in it’s biggest scandal possibly ever. The drugs scandal which has found itself aimed at even some British stars such as Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe.

Mo Farah

Mo Farah following one of his victories at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Russian doping scandal which revealed the extent of the drug problem among Russian athletes is possibly the biggest doping scandal of all time. The notion that the state could be involved in doping was a mind blowing revelation.

This just added to previous scandals including the Justin Gatlin saga which still angers me the way the drugs cheat is allowed to race. Then there were the other high profile sprinters including former Olympic champion Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell.

This toxic problem in the sport is not helped by the fact that the IAAF have not enforced bans or sanctions on the individual athletes or unions involved in doping either directly or indirectly.

The allegations thrown at Alberto Salazar regarding his Nike Oregon Project. The athletes that trained there have all seen their training scrutinised and their career possibly jeopardised.

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Alberto Salazar has been accused of doping many of his athletes.

This string of doping revelations that have been brought about over the past few years have thrown the world of sport into disrepute.

With the 2016 Olympics looming and the recent arrest of former IAAF chief Lamine Diack is hugely worryingly for not only athletics fans but sports fans all over the world.

Should Gatlin be Allowed to Race?

The 100 metres can be one of the most enthralling events in the world of athletics especially with the superstars of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Justin Gatlin all incredible athletes in their own right. Gatlin has clocked the fastest times this year by some way running under 9.8 a number of times.

The question is should the two time doping cheat be allowed to run and compete in the sport’s biggest events such as the Beijing World Championships in August or the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games next summer. The American served his first ban in 2001 after testing positive for amphetamines which he claimed was from medication. The next ban came in 2006 when the sprinter failed a test by USADA as he was taking some sort of testosterone boosting drug.

Justin Gatlin at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Justin Gatlin at the 2012 Olympic Games.

These tests led to bans but Gatlin returned and only three years ago he claimed the bronze medal at the London Olympics. The fact that he has been able to compete at all after his second ban mystifies me. As does the return of Jamaican drug cheat Powell who has been another one of the form runners this season. Then there is former Olympic champion Tyson Gay who received a one year doping ban in 2013 for using a banned steroid.

Asafa Powell only received a 6 month ban for using a banned substance.

Asafa Powell only received a 6 month ban for using a banned substance.

How can it be that these athletes that have cheated can be allowed to race? Especially in the prestigious events such as the Diamond League meets, World Championships or Olympics the pinnacle of athletics.

Justin Gatlin is likely to beat Bolt and Blake to the gold medal in China next month and for the drug taking cheat to win a gold medal in such a big, prestigious event is a horrific damnation of the sport to rise up this cheat as an idol for young aspiring athletes to try to follow.

Justin Gatlin after winning a Diamond League event in Rome.

Justin Gatlin after winning a Diamond League event in Rome.

How sporting brand Nike can still sponsor the American sprinter is sickening. For such a well thought of and popular brand to sponsor the substance abusing liar of an athlete doesn’t sit right with me. How can the other athletes with ‘clean’ records be expected to watch opponents like Gatlin or Powell pick up these plaudits when they have in the past been using banned substances?

I hope that one day athletics governing body the IAAF can show a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on substance abuse and hand lifetime bans to these athletes ruining the competitive spirit and overshadowing the incredible achievements of these truly remarkable athletes.

Fantastic Farah Missed Two Doping Tests

Mo Farah, the runner that let this great nation believe the Olympic 10,000 metre champion is one of the greatest athletes in this nation that fateful Saturday that also saw Rutherford and Ennis-Hill win medals in London.

Those two medals won were incredible, but since then Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar has been caught up in a doping scandal and although originally there was little to suggest the British star had been doping it has now emerged the middle distance champion missed two drugs tests prior to his triumph at the Olympic Games in 2012.

Mo Farah following one of his victories at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Mo Farah following one of his victories at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The first missed test by the 32 year old was in 2010 the year before he joined Salazar at the Oregon Project. The second test came the year he joined Salazar, the doping agency turned up at Farah’s home and he claims to have missed the test by not hearing the doorbell. Mo Farah seems to have some questions to field following the fallout of the Panorama documentary ‘Catch Me If You Can’ which revealed the findings on Salazar.

Salazar’s most serious doping allegation was related to Farah’s training partner, Galen Rupp who finished 2nd behind Farah in the 10,000 metres at the 2012 games.

Galen Rupp after winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Galen Rupp after winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Farah did earlier this month pull out of a 1500m race in Birmingham due to being “emotionally and physically drained.” He followed this up claiming he was unhappy his name had been dragged through the mud before the missed drugs tests came to light.

It seems odd that Farah has been so defensive about the drugs testing scandal even though his name was not brought up in the documentary or results. The British runner may have to field some pretty tough criticism in the weeks to come relating to both his continued association with Salazar and the missed drugs tests.

Anabolic steroids can be injected or be used orally.

Anabolic steroids can be injected or be used orally.

These findings about the absence at testing prior to the biggest sporting event worldwide may well have wider ramifications for Mo Farah and we are yet to hear the last of the goings on behind closed doors at the Nike Oregon Project.