The Fancy Bear hackers have been at it again, releasing their fifth batch of Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) records. Included in the latest dump of 41 athletes from 13 countries are the TUEs of American distance running stars Shalane Flanagan and Galen Rupp. A shorthand analysis of the release, however, shows nothing of note to report.
But it continues to strike me how Gotcha! the search for guilt in the world of sport is on the one hand — there is a TMZ quality to it — while at the same time society at large turns a blind eye to widespread, even institutional drug use/abuse on the other.
Perhaps sports is the last of the perceived innocents in a world of increasing cynicism, still falling into the “is nothing held sacred anymore?” category.
Len Johnson penned an excellent column today on the Runner’s Tribe website, We Need To Talk About Drugs. Among his observations was: “Sport has never quite managed to get to grips with PEDs from the time the IOC and individual federations first took the issue seriously. The first testing was done at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and the first tests for anabolic steroids at the Montreal 1976 Games. Both measures were playing “catch up” on what was already occurring.”
When you look at the larger world around, it makes you wonder why athletes wouldn’t give in to the drug culture that exists. After all, “Ask your doctor if (insert any one of a hundred brand name drugs here) is right for you.” And consider how much of popular culture, our music, art, books and movies, has been created via thought enhancement.
In literary circles one easily recalls the list of boozy writers: Hemingway, Faulkner, Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, etc. Yes, alcohol is a legal product, but the only question is whether it enhanced their writing, or just made the writer’s life tolerable. In either case, the pattern is clear. And there’s no secret that the kaleidoscopic words of Hunter S. Thompson were informed by heavy drug and alcohol use.
How much music from the 20th century alone, from blues to jazz to rock to hip-hop, was created free from drugs or alcohol? And when did the Beatles fully expand into true pop music greatness? After they began experimenting with pot and LSD.
Today, students and parents alike look to “study drugs” to enhance their children’s concentration and focus, hoping to better their chances at getting into college. And once in college, about 1 in 5 students reports using study drugs to get them through those punishing all-nighters.
It makes you wonder if this widespread tolerance of drug use in the wider society will finally do in the prohibition against it in sport, when enough people just can’t prop up the hypocrisy any longer. Continue reading