Sun | Jul 25, 2021

Doping by para-athletes

Published:Monday | August 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM

So I've been watching the Commonwealth Games and I must say I'm pleasantly surprised.

The temptation has always been to look down on the Commonwealth Games because, let's face it, an international tournament without the United States athletes (and others, but mostly the US) just doesn't capture the imagination. Plus, even among the participating nations, the big-name athletes don't always go. They prefer to stick with the Diamond League and make some money. As much as we don't like to admit it, running, jumping, throwing, etc, against the US athletes presents more of a challenge than competing against people from islands we've never heard of.

What surprised and pleased me even more was that the para-athletes are competing in the same Games. I love that because often they get their own Games but they aren't really televised, at least not to the level the able-bodied athletes are accustomed to seeing.

I will admit, I got a little teary-eyed at the presentation ceremony for Scottish runner Libby Clegg, who won a gold medal for the home crowd in the women's 100 metres. And then I saw news that truly bothered me. Reading, I found out that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is thinking about reducing the number of competition slots allowed in Rio 2016 to countries whose para-athletes repeatedly fail drugs tests. The article said the IPC is considering the move to tackle a "high number" of failed tests, particularly in powerlifting.

Mi vex! Probably more disappointed than vex, but mi vex. I hate to hear about cheating in general, but, somehow, from para-athletes it just feels worse. The chance to represent your country is not one many people get. Just to enjoy your favourite sporting endeavours is one thing; to do it on an international stage, wearing your country's colours, is something even greater. So how do you taint it by taking 'the juice'?

plain cheating

Now, I can understand taking a serum like Dr Curt Connors (the Lizard in Spider-Man) if you're trying to grow a limb back. I get that, I really do. It's not about trying to gain an advantage ('cause let's face it, you wouldn't qualify as a para-athletes anymore). But this is just plain cheating!

But you know, I shouldn't be all that surprised. para-athletes or not, we're all humans. And humans are always trying to outdo each other, trying to get the upper hand in some way. Worse, when it comes to medals and international prestige. It, I'm ashamed to say, is a bit of a wake-up call for me. I think I always naively believed para-athletes were more into 'getting joy from competing'. Should have known that at the day's end, for some, it's all about winning and by whatever cost.

Guess I'm the kind of person who would be scammed by a blind dude saying he needs money for an eye operation. Oh well, you live and you learn. Later.

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