Lit­tle will in sports to nab cheats

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Sadly, the drugs cheats are still win­ning in sport.

Three-time Tour de France cy­cling cham­pion Al­berto Con­ta­dor was last week let off a one-year ban for re­turn­ing a pos­i­tive test.

It was re­vealed that the 28-year-old Spa­niard had taken the banned drug clen­buterol, which en­hances mus­cle­build­ing.

The Span­ish cy­cling fed­er­a­tion ex­am­ined the case – why do I have im­ages of Nel­son, with the te­le­scope up to his blind eye? – de­cided that Con­ta­dor was the un­for­tu­nate vic­tim of eat­ing tainted meat, and ex­on­er­ated him.

Is it any won­der peo­ple are so cyn­i­cal about the drugs cheats who are a blight on sport?

The Span­ish cy­cling authorities were un­der im­mense pres­sure. Even Prime Min­is­ter Jose Luis Ro­driguez Za­p­a­tero had waded into the de­bate, say­ing: ‘‘There is no legal rea­son to jus­tify sanc­tion­ing Con­ta­dor.’’

The Spa­niards aren’t the only ones who have let cheats go, just the lat­est.

A New Zealand games of­fi­cial boasted to me once about how he’d man­aged to help a dis­cus thrower evade a drugs test.

He was in no way abashed; rather he was proud.

In 1988, the Amer­i­cans ig­nored sev­eral pos­i­tive tests re­turned by su­per-ath­lete Carl Lewis, en­abling him to com­pete in the Seoul Olympics.

It would be nice to think the world had moved on since those days, but if the Con­ta­dor case is a guide, ap­par­ently not. Con­ta­dor is not yet in the clear.

The In­ter­na­tional Cy­cling Union prob­a­bly, and, the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency cer­tainly, will ap­peal.

How­ever, the Span­ish de­ci­sion is yet an­other ex­am­ple of how lit­tle will there is in some ar­eas of sport to nab the cheats.

I’ve been sur­prised New Zealand cy­cling of­fi­cials have been so keen to em­brace de­clared cheat Floyd Lan­dis, who has com­peted in the Tour of South­land in the past two years.

Lan­dis won the Tour de France in 2006, re­turned a pos­i­tive test and vowed he was clean.

When the proof was too over­whelm­ing to be de­nied – and with his book com­ing out soon af­ter – he ad­mit­ted that OK, he had cheated.

In the spirit of open­ness, he then dobbed in other big-name cy­clists, in­clud­ing Lance Arm­strong.

Un­for­tu­nately, by then Lan­dis’ cred­i­bil­ity was zero. Still, he was warmly wel­comed in South­land.

Arm­strong has fi­nally re­tired, at the age of 39. He had a fab­u­lous ca­reer, in­clud­ing seven Tour de France vic­to­ries.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Amer­i­can, he is con­stantly sur­rounded by ac­cu­sa­tions of drug-cheat­ing. An­other high-level probe is un­der way in the United States.

Arm­strong stresses he never failed a drugs test, but that means lit­tle to me. A drug test can be mean­ing­ful only when the tester knows what to look for.

Amer­i­can Florence Grif­fith-Joyner never failed a drugs test ei­ther. Yet very few ath­let­ics fol­low­ers be­lieve she was a clean ath­lete. She ran fab­u­lous times for the 100 me­tre and 200m in 1988, set­ting records that may last half a cen­tury, then sud­denly re­tired. There were sug­ges­tions she’d been told to re­tire – or else.

Other­wise, why would such a glam­orous and bril­liant ath­lete re­tire at the peak of her pow­ers, just when she was poised to cash in on her record-break­ing sprint­ing?

As with Arm­strong, Grif­fith-Joyner will al­ways have an as­ter­isk be­side her name in the record books.

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