Why aren’t we suspicious of Americans?
Lance Armstrong has both energised and tarnished US Cycling - can it continue to grow? (AP Photo/Franck Prevel, File)
From everything we have heard, USADA’s report will for once and for all silence the ever shrinking minority of Armstrong supporters and again cast a negative light on cycling.
However, the more pressing point that seems to have been forgotten all this time is that Lance Armstrong is yet another American drug cheat.
The last decade has revealed the depth and the scale of drug taking in American sport and yet the general public seem to brush it aside once its all over and done with and just assume that in the next race, or the next game, or at the next meet, American sport is clean.
I don’t presume for one moment that the United States are the only country that has many athletes banned for doping, but they are the only country that avoids the greatest suspicion despite a rather sordid history.
The very same people mentioned above still cast incredible suspicion upon Eastern European or Chinese athletes because of performances of today that, God forbid, break world records, or even worse, best the United States.
Ye Shiwen, the phenomenal 16-year-old swimming prodigy of China, was accused left, right and centre of taking drugs, simply because she is Chinese and the Chinese had (a very important qualifier here) a history of drug taking.
Yet rest assured, if American Elisabeth Biesel had won, and set a world record, we would have only applauded.
The systematic drug cheating that took place in China happened when Yi was just two years old. How awful and how considering the next paragraphs, how hypocritical to brandish abuse on poor young Yi.
When Americans break world records or win races, why don’t we look upon them with suspicion as we do with others? We should.
Let’s have a look at American athletics in the Sydney Olympics and list out the medal winning American athletes, that have since been exposed as drug cheats: Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew, Jerome Young, CJ Hunter, Marion Jones and others were all been banned for drug taking in that Olympics.
Tim Montgomery was caught a later. Kelli White was stripped of her World Championships success. Maurice Greene has been suspected of drug taking. Justin Gatlin, after the next Olympics, was banned.
How many times this year did we hear how good it would be for Sally Pearson to break the 100m hurdles world record to remove a tainted Eastern European name (Yordanka Donkova of Bulgaria) of the record list?
Florence Griffith-Joyner has records that only Marion Jones, a drug cheat has come close to matching. Yet only for a brief period was she cast under some minimal suspicion.
Joyner’s death has allowed her to escape a significant amount of fallout from the sordid discoveries of US track and field in the 80s. The secrets of Flo-Jo will remain the secrets of Flo-Jo.
Her records in the professional world are quietly treated as suspicious. Do we, the general public acknowledge this when the field gets in the blocks for every woman’s 100m and 200m meet? No.
I argue that breaking Flo-Jo’s records are just as important as Pearson needing to break Donkova’s record.
Carl Lewis throughout the 80s and early 90s was a known drug taker but his tests were covered up and he avoided suspension. It’s probably the right time to mention that Lewis has accused Usain Bolt, a widely known non-American, of being a drug cheat while continuing to flout his innocence. Breathtaking.
The US Olympic 4x100m gold medal team won in a world record time, one that was previously set by East Germans in Canberra two decades ago, and yet no-one batted an eyelid.
After all the rampant and sustained drug cheating by US track and field athletes for the past two decades, no one had anything bad to say about that race. Personally, I believe the athletes involved are clean, but surely the reputation of US track and field entitles me to at least feel suspicious in the same way we did with Yi Shiwen?
Why can’t we cast upon with suspicion every world record set by an American athlete in the 80s, 90s and early 00s in the same way that we still do with every East German, Chinese or Iron Curtain record set in the 70s, 80s and early 90s?
How have Americans, despite repeated proven cases of cheating, gotten away scot free from suspicion?
It’s not just athletics though, even moving into the dangerously and hopelessly corrupt world of cycling we can see that most of the blame and suspicion is still strongly oriented towards European teams.
Yet, an American (Floyd Landis) was the first to have his Tour de France title stripped, Tyler Hamilton admits to drug taking, several other key teammates admit to taking drugs and witnessing Armstrong do the same.
Yet we initially see them as a few bad apples, move on, and continue laying the most suspicion on European cyclists. It took a mountain of evidence and five years of hard work to finally categorically reveal that the US Postal Cycling Team had carried out the greatest and most systematic cheating regiment in all of cycling to finally trigger some kind of outrage against Armstrong’s actions.
History will record that an American team were the biggest drug cheats in cycling. Mainly thanks to Armstrong’s dominance of the sport, Americans are responsible for eight tour de France titles being stripped.
Baseball was exposed in the 2000s as some of the more prolific batters have slowly either been caught taking drugs or admitting that they took drugs. Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds are probably the most high profile drug cheats.
MLB had to hide quietly in the corner when Bonds broke the all time home-runs record. Time unfortunately prevents me from listing pitchers that have been caught taking drugs.
Drug taking in American sport has been rampant for nearly three decades. Yet, we continue to forgive and forget American athletes and assume the next generation is clean. But we are wrong. It won’t be instant, it takes time, but we are ultimately proven wrong. It’s happened before, and hopefully it won’t happen again.
We should be suspicious every time the US win or dominant a sport. But are we suspicious this happens? No.
We applaud American success and cast aside success of nations with drug pasts. America has a drug past and present, I can only hope not a drug future. I look forward to 2017.
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