We like our rock stars dirty, but our athletes clean

So the fly in the olive oil of Greece’s hosting of the Olympics is that their two prize athletes are crook in hospital, to ill it seems, to even talk to the law. It’s all looking mighty suspicious to me. The IOC seem to be coming down hard on anyone this year, but for how much longer?

There are two main issues with the drugs in sport debate. The first one is competition; drugs give a competitor an unfair advantage over everyone else. But surely Michael Schumaker has an unfair advantage being behind the wheel of a Ferrari compared to some of the ‘poorer’ teams? And tennis nowadays is as much about the arms race in carbon fibre racquets technology as it is the player. Bjorn Borg famously tried to make a come back with a wooden racquet in 1991 and got thrashed. What do athletes have to enhance but their bodies?

The other main problem is the moral issue. We not very comfortable with sports stars taking drugs, it’s… well cheating, and distinctly un-British. You can’t very well have a zero tolerance drugs policy on the streets and ‘smack and field’ events at the local athletic club. After all, I grew up with Daley Thompson as a hero in our house, and the only stimulants he ever took was a swig Lucozade and mosh of Iron Maiden….. Entertainment stars on the other hand practically have to do a spell in the Priory as part of their training.

So the argument is this, taking drugs leads to enhanced performance and that’s not fair on the competition. Which when you transplant it across from sport to music, is like….. The Dave Clark Five wanting the Beatles thrown out of the Charts because they ‘cheated’ and produced an ‘enhanced’ Sergeant Pepper while off their tits.

I’m sure the drug companies would love to ‘sponsor’ athletic teams. Who knows, maybe it’ll end up like in some bad sci-fi novel where nations are obsolete and teams are made and paid for by large multi-nationals? Which is a bit like how Formula 1 is now really.

Disclaimer: oh yeah, erm, don’t do drugs kids… m’kay.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
August 2004

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