Editorial: Drug cheat for money, not victory

By Roger Moroney


No, Lance Armstrong didn't start it.

It's just that he was the only one to get a shot at trying to find some form of redemption in the seedy world of drug-tainted sport through having a chat with Oprah Winfrey.

Drugs cheats in the sporting arena are nothing new. It's just that Armstrong - and a certain Olympic shot-putter from a land no one can accurately place on the map - has brought it to worldwide attention over the past year.

Armstrong's's career has crashed and burned, to the point where he has unfortunately been dubbed the most unpopular sportsperson in the United States.

After he took out his last Tour de France victory he was arguably at the top of the popular list. Funny old thing, sports. Dreadful old thing, drugs.

In this part of the world we have tended to be sheltered from the menace, although that's not to say some individuals have not succumbed to the temptation to find something to make them stronger, faster or more alert.

But that appears to be changing now. Earlier in the week news emerged that the world of AFL (Aussie Rules) had been rocked by revelations that one of the teams, Essendon, had some explaining to do about "supplements" and "substances" which had allegedly been administered by the medical and coaching bosses.

One expat Australian told me a few days ago that he wasn't surprised, that the rookie players went in looking pretty normal but within a year had bulked up big time.

And then news started emerging about the world of rugby league across the Tasman. Same deal. Supplements and substances. Doubts over whether the supplements were actually legal or not.

That latest revelation, involving a sport in which plenty of Kiwis are involved, even rattled Prime Minister John Key. He is going to discuss the doping/cheating saga with his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard this weekend.

It is clear that sport has gone beyond being a sport. It is now a high-profile business where money must be made and where success must breed success. Win at all costs. Keep the sponsors and directors on side. Sad, really.

When I, and many many others, played sport we were average, but we were never cheats. To cheat was just not sporting.

Why take a supplement? Okay, if you've got the flu and they can't find another winger then a couple of cold tabs shouldn't be an issue. But supplements?

Call me old-fashioned, but what's wrong with training and eating properly? Get fit, play the game, and that's that. Skill wins, not a supplement or sneaky pharmaceutical.

Whatever comes of all this should be stronger than any substance. Like a poisoned athlete, the whole management, medical and directorship "team" of any polluted individual or club needs to be cleansed - once and for all.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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