Last night the BBC aired a Panorama documentary called Catch Me If You Can. In a collaboration between Mark Daly of the BBC and David Epstein of Propublica. You can find the web articles at the following links:
Watching the reactions on social media were quite interesting. There was a mixture of those who were incandescent with rage and those who were shouting ‘I knew it!’ or ‘I’m not surprised’.
I didn’t comment last night while watching. I just felt incredibly sad. Yet again doping allegations tarnish the sport. It’s not just about individuals either, it’s about power houses in the sport who have a huge amount of control and say. It’s not just athletes, it’s coaches and doctors and huge global companies with massive amounts of clout. It made really depressing viewing.
What is did bring home is how inept the current systems of doping detection are. Bodies in individual countries are brought allegations and yet refuse to act. The biological passport seems almost pointless because people are learning how to cheat it. Coaches are allegedly doping very young athletes at low levels, potentially harming them for the long term and nothing is said. Individuals are used as guinea pigs to work out how much is enough to make a clean test making current tests as good as worthless. The doping authorities seem to have an impossible job on their hands but when it is apparently a structured attempt to cheat the system by coaches, labs, doctors and companies then what real chance do they have? It’s almost got the whiff of East Germany about it.
There is a Diamond League event on in Rome tonight. Yesterday I was thinking what is the point of watching but then I remembered I’m one of these optimistic people who has a ridiculous amount of faith in people and their ability to be good. I also remembered that for every doper there are about fifty athletes who despise dopers and are very vocal about the fact. Athletes like Jenny Meadows, Kelly Sotherton, Jo Pavey, Paula Radcliffe and many others will always restore my faith in athletics and the fact that it is an incredible sport full of honest, clean, hard working athletes. I will continue to hold on to this and that is what keeps me watching. In the mean time I hope that the truth will out and that dopers and the organisations and individuals that assist them will be thrown out of sport. Here’s hoping.