Running, Doping & the Media

Hi all,

I'd just like to use this forum as a means to vent my disgust over the recent insinuations made in the media, regarding Paula Radcliffe's brillant performances this year. I was particularly annoyed by the suggestions in the Daily Mail, that as Britons we trust that our athletes such as Paula are clean, when perhaps they are not.

I find it difficult to believe that these 'experts' have not followed Paula's fantastic, linear improvements over the last 10 years. This is no sudden, dramatic improvement of a drug-cheat!

One more little rant on the subject - maybe I'm alone in this, but I'll no longer be cheering on England's Commonwealth heroine, Kelly Holmes. Kelly, if you are going to go on accusing other athletes of cheating, show us the proof! Don't go on like a sulking loser!

Phew! That's that off my mind then. So please authorities, do go catch the cheats, but media and athletes, speak from facts, not fiction!


  • Spot on, Mowgli. At the moment it is far too easy for a defeated loser (and the executive wives' favourite comic, which I detest with an even greater passion after reading your post) to throw out veiled hints of drug misuse by successful athletes.

    Paula Radcliffe will have been tested extensively, in and out of training, and if the tests say she's clean then she's clean. No other athlete against whom she has competed has expresed the slightest surprise that she is performing so well this year.

    And Kelly Holmes has surely learned that making cheap jibes about someone who beats you in a race doesn't win you any friends (or bring the sponsors to your agent's door).

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • One of the most frustrating things about the latest round of insinuations is that this summer has been a great opportunity for athletics to be showcased, with the Commonwealth Games, European Champs, and the Crystal Palace meet this coming Friday. Athletes like Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards, amongst others, have been speaking out about the need for better facilities so that new generations of runners and field athletes can be trained. The emergence of yet another unsubstantiated drug allegation compromises the hopes of the athletics community, and takes attention away from the need to upgrade facilities. Meanwhile, football season has begun; the window of opportunity for public attention is closing fast.

    What a shame!

  • Just because tests haven't shown up anything, doesn't mean that nothing illegal has been taken. Top athletes would know what to do to mask these substances. Look at the Tour de France - no positive tests.
    Sounds a bit too good to be true.

    Having said that - I do believe Paula is clean. I read an article by her German Physio in the Times last week. He was saying her level for taking pain is 9 out of 10, and gave an insight into her schedule. Yikes !

    He also said that he'd refused to treat an Olympic champion, as he had doubts about them.

    Paulas stance against drugs is well known, I'd like to see more athletes doing the same.
  • Dalya, how true! I remeber reading somewhere that there are only two full-sized indoor tracks in England. That is just ridiculous for a nation that expects to be able to compete seriously in international athletics competitions. And I could have wept when I saw the footage of the track at Manchester being lifted so that the stadium could be a football ground.

    And Cougie, I know revelations coming out of the former Eastern bloc and China have made us all a bit cynical, but what happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • It's good to see that I'm not alone in feeling frustrated at the way drug allegations are being made. Of course there are athletes who dope, but that shouldn't mean that a black cloud is cast over athletics, particularly when this then overshadows the many great achievements. As Dalya rightly points out, this is not what we need following the positive (not doping positive!) atmosphere created by the Commonwealths.

    In response to Cougie, yes there are very big drug related problems in sport, and this is very much exemplified by the cycling. However, there is in my opinion a solution to the EPO problem. The Tour de France cyclists have blood tests to check their 'health', and if their haematocrit levels are above 51% they are not allowed to compete. I believe that this policy as it stands is wrong, as it will encourage riders to take EPO to get their red blood cell levels up to this level, rather than the more normal 43-46%. However if the haematocrits of all endurance athletes were made public, at least then we could judge for ourselves whether they are clean, negative dope tests or not.

  • The Daily Mail say things like that about anything... Change papers!!!
  • Good point Mowgli - publishing the haematocrit would be a good start. I guess doping investigations have been harder into cycling than any other sports, simply because its so hard to race almost every day for 3 weeks like they have to do in the Tours. How riders can get through all that without one bad day is close to a miracle.
    No wonder they are tempted.

    And yes - I am very cynical now - they should be innocent until proven otherwise, but I've been let down by my cycling heroes many times now. I find it hard to cheer for these riders as they are almost too good to be true. Anyone who saw Marco Pantani in the Tours attacking on the climbs was in awe of his performance, until he got found out.
  • ... Or Mr. Japarov... Sad really. I think it has more to do with the dosh than anything else.
  • Hi!

    Not denigrating Paula in any way whatsoever, but

    a) I do think there's some truth in the fact that we tend to think British athletes are above taking drugs, whereas that isn't always true.

    b) Surely part of the problem is that just because someone tests clean, it doesn't necessarily mean they are clean - it could just be that the test isn't sophisticated enough to detect the drug.

    I'd repeat that I'm not implying anything about Paula in either of those statements.

  • I'm sure not all British athletes are clean. BUT some athletes (and cyclists - step forwards Mr Boardman) ARE renowned to be clean. So what does that make the others........

    The French cyclist that came out as Anti drugs was driven out of the Pro Ranks. Even Lance Armstrong told him to keep quiet. What kind of message does that send out ?
  • One of the problems for elite athletes is that as soon as they take strong public stances on the doping issues, they become targets for a 'sting'. Dieter Baumann felt he was set up in this way (nandrolone in his toothpaste?) and he recently warned Paula R. that she must be very careful about all that she ingests. She is lucky to have her husband watching out for her!

    I used to be sceptical about such statements, but the Winter Olympics 'Skategate' thing revealed that there can be very dark, highly organised underworld goings-on, even in the rareified world of Olympic sport. I suppose that the potential financial gains become too tempting!

    V-rap, as far as the stadium thing goes, I can only say that as a Canadian living in London, I find it strange that the World Championships were held last year in my home country, where athletics is way down the sports pecking order behind ice hockey, skiing and baseball, yet here in the U.K., which has such a fine tradition in certain disciplines - especially middle distance running - it was impossible to get the Pickett's Lock thing to work, and seems equally problematic to get more than a last minute lick of paint for Crystal Palace.

    One more thing, folks. Might we stop calling the Daily Mail a newspaper? Scandal-sheet might be more appropriate.

  • I get the Daily Mail free at the gym. What a hoot. Funnier than Viz. (although that's not as funny as it used to be.)

    Brilliant idea having a humorous daily going along in the guise of an almost proper paper. Who's behind it ? Is it that Brass Eye bloke ?
  • Good points about the Daily Mail - don't worry, I don't actually buy it!
  • I don't find the Daily Mail one bit funny, but really quite sinister.

    That may have something to do with the fact that I look after the health of a fair number of asylum seekers (I will get off that particular soapbox now before I open my gob) and also get fed up with people bringing me snippets about the latest lunatic fringe of the alternative health industry to ask my opinion (difficult to give without using the sort of language I prefer to keep out of my professional contacts).

    The twittering gym-bunnies (the decorative rather than functional women who congregate in the gym after dropping the kids at school and compete for the attention of the male personal trainers, who call them yummy mummies to their faces and something worse than wrinkly tarts behind their backs) all get their opinions from it, which used to make school gate conversations a minefield.

    Cheers, V-rap.
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