The East German's strictly coordinated program of feeding performance enhancing drugs to their athletes known as the State Plan 24.25 secured many victories and dominance of Athletics for decades. Many now suffer the ill-effects of this systematic doping program with associated health problems from such a substantial amount of steroid consumption. Revealing the lengths those involved in the sport will go to ensure victory and the battle that must be waged by athletics governing bodies to remove the shackles of disbelief and suspicion by a weary and sceptical viewing public. |
With the advent of each new era of sporting personalities within track and field the same age-old problem seems to rears its head like a dreaded relative who can always be relied upon to ruin the proceedings at any family gathering.
Canadian former sprinter Ben Johnson was the nemesis to the more demure Carl Lewis of the USA and the main players in what has become known as the 'dirtiest race in history', the title of the widely acclaimed book by Richard Moore, detailing the rivalry between the 2 men leading up to the men's 100 metres final at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. With a genuine dislike for one another, this further added to the anticipation of this eagerly awaited gladiatorial contest. The image of Johnson blasting out of the blocks at break-neck speed, drawing comparisons with a formula 1 racing car, and leaving all others in his wake to record a time of 9.79 seconds lives long in the memory in providing a demonstration, in no uncertain terms, of the mind-boggling and sheer power that can be derived from the use of anabolic steroids. It would be another 10 years before someone was able to equal his time running unaided by drugs. Just 1 athlete competing in the race had not failed a drug test in his entire career, and is perhaps the seminal moment in the sport that has come to define the use of performance enhancing drugs, what is broken about the sport and the insurmountable challenges ahead.
Since that time the roll call of offenders has continued to grow exponentially, with big names such as Marion Jones, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson and Justin Gatlin to name a few. The latter, a repeat offender who is still competing and is one of the fastest men in history, but who may have a point when he argues that his detractors would not care so much about his continued participation in the sport if he was losing.
It's a sad indictment of any sport when we must err on the side of caution and instead watch it spellbound, for the spectacle of what the human body is capable of rather than for its authenticity, performed by the few who are willing to risk all, even their own longevity, to secure their place in sporting history.
Christopher lives in the U.K. and is the author and founder of Critical Eye, a website dedicated to debating societal issues, international affairs as well as other topics.
Casting a Critical Eye on the Topical Issues
Related Articles -
carl lewis, justin gatlin, the dirtiest race in history, olympics, anabolic steroids, ben johnson,