Letters to the Editor

Anti-dopers catch a 'big fish'!

Monday, January 14, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Anti-doping zealots worldwide, including their unthinking, uncritical cheerleaders in and out of Jamaica's athletics community, now have two black eyes covered by eggs all over their face.

No, it's not because the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has admitted it has made another 2,400 mistakes, as it did a few years ago when it withdrew that many items from its list of banned substances. Nor is it because it has taken away Jamaica's Olympic sprint relay gold medal because one runner ingested an item which was the third cousin of a distant uncle of a relative who wasn't even listed on the family tree. Nor is it because it suspended a sprinter for taking a stimulant which is okay if taken in training but makes you a drug cheat if taken just before competition, even if it makes you run slower than ever in your Olympic trials. Nor is it because, in the unkindest cut of all, it penalised someone for taking a painkiller after the dentist had just yanked a tooth and your coach forgot to tell them about it.

Now they have caught their 'big fish', but you can bet there won't be any hot headlines about “drug cheat” or “drug scandal” about this one.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has brought down the hammer on the new poster boy for drug cheating — 90-year-old cyclist Carl Grove, who was found to have violated the rules at the 2018 Masters Championships. He was informed that he failed a drug test and had to return his medal and forfeit his record after traces of trenbolone, an anabolic steroid used by American cattle farmers to bulk up livestock, was detected in his urine sample.

As USADA's own investigators conceded, Grove hadn't knowingly doped. Instead, he was inadvertently contaminated, probably by a dinner of cow's liver he ate.

But, as our big man used to say, “Rules are rules,” and as law-and-order folks remind us: “You do the crime, you do the time.”

USADA boss Travis Tygart says it had no choice but to issue him with a public warning, the lowest level penalty it could hand down, admitting that, “Cases like this make you bang your head against the wall. The outcome is not right, and it's a system gone awry,” the Associated Press reported.

Needless to say, the 90-year-old victim is sort of philosophical about it: “Us old guys are kind of like peanuts...What can I gain at 90 years old doing drugs?” He's already looking ahead to new challenges on his bike.

Meanwhile, the modern kids are caught between two three-letter words — “lol” or “smh”.

Errol W A Townshend

Canada

ewat@rogers.com


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