This morning, I begin with an interesting article that isn’t about track and field – it’s about doping in soccer, and how the individuals within the sport need to acknowledge that it happens. For years, many have said “oh, soccer is a clean sport” – or something to that effect. Comments like these should make people seriously doubt the accuracy of these statements. Falling into that trap will only result in harm; look what happened to the cycling world after the now-infamous Lance Armstrong drug scandal surfaced. But even after Armstrong’s revelations opened the Pandora’s Box, “many footballers and coaches contend that all is well in their perfectly pristine world. Doping? It just doesn’t exist in football, they’d tell you. After all, ‘drugs don’t make you pass better.’” Their willful blindness and ignorance to doping within soccer only makes them look worse than the cyclists. Also, their argument that soccer “is about technique and tactics,” and that doping wouldn’t work is an absolutely ridiculous statement. The comment also reveals how the denial runs about as deep as a glacier.
The article goes through doping evidence through the past 50 years. I won’t discuss everything in detail, so you’ll have to read the article if you want the specifics. Instead, I’ll touch upon enough of the article so that you’ll start to see a picture of how doping did (and still does) play a role in the sport of soccer.
In the 1950s, West Germany beat Hungary 3-2 in the World Cup Final. Hungary was the favorite going into the match, and while they suffered a number of unlucky circumstances before and during, “following the match, syringes and needles were found in the German locker room,” and they were filled with a stimulant called Pervitin.
In the 1960s, team members of Il Grande Inter engaged in doping. Ferruccio Mazzola, a player on the team who was later interviewed, described the prominent doping practices initiated by Helenio Ferrera. In the 70s, team members from Ajax eventually admitted that “[Defender Barry Hulshoff] and his teammates at Ajax occasionaly received pills from Docter Rolink.”
Let’s fast-forward to the World Cup in 1988. In Gary Neville’s autobiography, he discusses what happened at the English soccer camp: “When the 1998 World Cup started, some of the players started taking injections from Glenn’s favourite medic, a Frenchman called Dr Rougier. After some of the lads said they’d felt a real burst of energy, I decided to seize any help on offer. So many of the players decided to go for it before that Argentina match that there was a queue to see the doctor.” Nobody knows what was in those injections, but if they weren’t talking about it, then there’s likely a strong sense of foul play. The article continues to name other doping examples during the 2000s. There’s enough to turn most people with half a brain into a skeptic. The real question is whether FIFA or any football clubs and associations will do anything about it, but it doesn’t seem promising.
Yesterday, IOC president Thomas Bach and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “signed an agreement Monday which will see the two organisations utilise sport to ‘build a better world'” at a General Assembly meeting in New York. Bach said, “The Olympic Movement is willing and ready to make its contribution to the most laudable efforts of the United Nations to maintain and build peace and to bring along social change.” The new partnership will enable the duo to work with various UN-member organizations to provide better access to sports “all among communities, quality physical education in school settings, youth empowerment, education, and skills development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, peace-building and community dialogue, healthy life-styles promotion, and environmental sustainability.” While the UN and the IOC have worked together in the past, the signed agreement makes it official. The UN has long recognized the uniting power sports has on communities, areas, and nations, and this agreement further cements that recognition.
In continuing news, IOC vice-president John Coates publicly criticized Rio when he said that Rio’s preparations were “the worst he has ever seen” – including Athens in 2004, which Coates worked on. As noted earlier, the IOC stepped in by helping with a number of operations Rio struggles to finish (in some cases, start). Moreover, the city struggles with social and government issues which need immediate attention – not to mention that it is hosting a World Cup within the next couple of months.
American Tyson Gay, the second-fastest man in history at the 100-meter dash – and whose sample contained evidence of doping – is expected to hear about his case soon. The article fails to mention exactly when that might be, but considering five Jamaican athletes also tested positive on the same day Gay did – and the fact that all of the athletes had their cases resolved since then – gives some indication that it will be sooner as opposed to later.
Finally, here’s a fun article explaining why cheetahs are no longer the fastest land animal (although if speed was always measured in body lengths per second, then the Australian tiger beetle would be the previous fastest land animal). The mite travels up to 322 body lengths per second, easily defeating the Australian tiger beetle, which travels at a “mere” pace of 171 body lengths per second. The discovery may lead to better designs in technology for robotic or biomimetic devices.