Track Is Dead

Ned Barnett of the News & Observer wrote a nice piece this weekend about how the local track empire of Trevor Graham is in ruins. You could take Barnett’s article and take it a step or two further – the entire sport of track and field – like cycling – is rubble. There was a time after the post-Ben Johnson rules changes when I thought it was largely cleaned up. I knew that some athletes still doped, but not everyone. After the allegations of the past couple of years that include positive tests and/or bans of Tim Montgomery (the one-time 100m world record holder), Justin Gatlin (the current 100m world record holder) and now Marion Jones (by far the biggest name in women’s track and field), it’s clear that everyone is cheating. They have to be. If those at the top are cheating, there’s no reason to believe that the less talented folks are clean. If US athletes can find ways to get the drugs they need, how hard can it be in other countries that have much less regulation in their pharmaceutical industries?
The sport is completely broken. No performance is to be trusted. Maybe the whole sport needs to take a year off while they figure out what can be done. Do they boost their drug testing? Maybe require every single athlete to give a monthly drug test plus one just after each meet? And then store those samples for five years or more in case better tests come available?
Or maybe instead they should just give up their hopeless chase and let the athletes compete with whatever chemicals they can find. Make it like NASCAR – you have a driver and a pit crew. At least that way, it’d be more honest.
Something has to be done, because the sport couldn’t be less interesting or more disgraceful at this point.

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