| Tavita |
I QUOTE WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency…
“You are solely responsible for whatever is in your body at all times.”
Fair enough, I reckon. I can still taste the sofatime noodles I’ve just had for supper.
They weren’t the tastiest I’ve ever had but I don’t blame the cook. Nor am I off to the shop down the road who sold me the packet. And I’m not going to sue the guy who designed the pretty yellow packet.
It’s my fault!
I wrapped my fork around them. I dipped them in the chili sauce. I inserted them into my waiting throat. And I swallowed them. All my doing. I accept responsibility.
Unfortunately, however, the year is ending with a very bad lingering taste of another kind of sofatime product. And my responsibility lies in spitting the whole thing out.
I used to love it. It was my whole life for a while. But now it’s one I just can’t bring myself to sample again.
Track and Field Athletics!
Word has come through that East Germany’s still on the market.
This, of course, was the label that topped the sales, year after year, event after event, for thirty years or more in the old days. It was painted blue and came in huge great packets with GDR stamped on the front.
It was claimed to be made by pharmaceutical giants from Inner Dresden.
The stuff was full of Oral-Turinabol, the “blue bean” – an anabolic steroid containing testosterone.
It was certainly the main reason for three decades of astounding success in every athletic event and for the astonishing performances made by a small country at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the 1980 Moscow games.
It certainly made you hop faster, step longer and jump higher and it could also make you wake up in bed in the morning and find you’d suddenly changed your sex.
It was manufactured in the laboratories of Dresden and sold at every T & F meeting on the planet.
I’ve still got my cupboard full of ancient “Athletics Weekly” copies. I even used to write for it from time to time. The pages are getting browner by the year and some of them have got stuck together.
But inside, if you wish to unstuck a page or two, are long, long lists of the mightiest products ever sold on the closed market of Track and Field.
And, last week, a German broadcaster was reported to have re-discovered them.
These days, he claimed, they’re packaged in the bright red colours of Russia.
“99.9% of their athletes are on them,” lots of allegations followed.
“Grrrrrrrrrr…..Deeeeeeeee….Rrrrrrrrrrrr!” the Russian authorities growled.
Of course, All Russia denies it. And, naturally, All Non-Russia confirms it.
But the big question has nothing to do with Inner, Outer or Central Russia or anywhere else on the planet.
And it has nothing to do with running or jumping or heaving stuff around in a stadium.
For me and all who gave a fair bit of their lives to Track and Field, the big question is much simpler:
“Who gives a Fosbury Flop about athletics today?”
By 1989, it had gone totally steroidal and since 1989 it’s gone totally commercial.
Bare-bellied thongster women; advert-plastered blokes; athletes running off for a chat with the coach between failures; flowers waved and thrown at the crowd…
…. rabbits hired to set the pace; meaningless cosmic records, planetary records, world records, meeting records, national records, personal bests, marathons, half marathons, quarter marathons, diamond leagues, ruby leagues, sapphire leagues and tinpot leagues….
Who can believe in a single performance?
Inside or outside the hammer cage, what is left that’s genuine?
Like many a sofatime former fan, I’ve given up bothering.
WADA can investigate, interview, ban, prosecute, strangle, shoot or disembowel whoever it feels like investigating, interviewing, banning, strangling, shooting or disembowelling.
This is a sport that has swallowed its soul….or injected it ….or simply sold it.
This weekend, the New Zealand North Island and South Island Athletics Championships are on.
They won’t be on the box, of course, but my mind will still be watching.
I’ll be remembering a trio of young women athletes from the South Pacific. Thirty five years ago.
They had never left their home before, over three thousand miles from New Zealand.
They had trained for months on the hills and paths of their tiny island. Taro leaves were their steroids. Their parents were their sponsors.
They won their island championship and their island raised the money for them to fly to a New Zealand Championships. They won a gold medal in the team road race.
Their bodies were filled with fresh, raw pride.
And everything tasted good back then.