For many years we have been highlighting the fact that there does not appear to be a level playing field when it comes to the practice of several sporting disciplines. Events of the past few weeks have served to support our stance. Of course this is not something of which we are proud. Instead it remains a most painful thing to have to repeatedly deal with this thorny issue.
The 100m world record
There are some who would readily suggest that this latest saga of drug cheats began with the breaking of the 100m world record by Tim Montgomery a few years ago. At the time the American sprinter was being coached by Jamaica’s Trevor Graham, working in the USA. Female sprinter, Marion Jones, was also in the Graham camp at the time making her bid for athletics glory and international fame.
While Montgomery has never tested positive for drugs, he has nonetheless been exposed in what is now popularly referred to as the BALCO scandal. The BALCO boss, Victor Conte, brought before the Grand Jury, seemed to have been ready to tell all and he apparently has some company in this regard. Montgomery appeared to have been involved in a broader game plan that may have been more expansive than at first thought by the leaders of track and field athletics.
The game plan appears to have been a deliberate effort to utilise drugs to lay claim to the 100m world record and the attendant fame and glory to say nothing of the monies to be derived there from. Montgomery did achieve the world record and the prestige that came with it. He fathered a child with training partner in a sense, Marion Jones, and the two rose to the top of the sprinting world accompanied by their coach, Trevor Graham. Indeed times were so good that all three gained recognition and acclaim in the USA when together they copped top honours in their respective fields at the annual USA Track and Field (USATF) Awards Ceremony.
No sooner had the trio been elevated in the US athletics fraternity news broke that there were straws in the wind. It was announced that Jones and Montgomery were considering breaking with Graham. It was stated in some quarters that they were considering a move to the Canadian, Charlie Francis, coach of former top sprinter disgraced for cheating with drugs, Ben Johnson. It seemed, too, that Jones was prepared to justify her decision to make the move by suggesting that the coach was the best at his craft in terms of athletics technique.