I would just like to warn readers that this is a bit of a rant. Let’s get things straight. Our men’s quad has just been included in the New Zealand Olympic Team after revelations that a Russian athlete from their men’s quad has been found to be doping. Whilst I am incredibly stoked that justice has prevailed in one sense and our boys are getting the opportunity that is rightfully theirs, I am also extremely angry and disappointed at the entire situation. This one athlete has not only ruined it for his teammates (assuming they are clean, which is probably questionable) but he has cost our men’s quad weeks in training and preparation for the biggest event in their sporting careers. And this is just one case! I think of the people who missed out on their moments of glory, robbed by a drug cheat of their right to celebrate knowing they were the best in world, those moments will never be restored or replicated. I also think of the emotional difficulty those people have been through when they lost or missed out on a place. That emotional turbulence was completely unnecessary and all happened because some low-life didn’t have the guts to make it happen the clean way.
I do not understand how these people go to sleep at night knowing what they are doing to themselves, their teammates, the sport and all other people involved. Think of the coaches, support staff, family, friends and everyone else who has most likely helped these people at one stage in their career and how betrayed they must feel. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt if it was a simple mistake with supplements like protein powder etc but more often than not it’s just lies upon lies.
Rowing is one of the greatest sports in the world in my opinion because it is one of the most fair. People line up against one another in boats that are all relatively even and race as fast as they can over 2000m. The conditions are generally fair, there are no judges, no points system, no opinions; just 6 crews racing from start to finish with the best crew/person coming out on top. People that have made life sacrifices to chase their dreams and put their bodies through absolute hell for hours on end before even making the starting line only to put themselves through more pain. Think of the family sacrifices, the time spent away from loved ones, the weddings missed, the parties missed. All of these points that make rowing a great sport get thrown out the window when issues like drugs creep in and contaminate the entire operation. These problems fester and build like a contagious disease leaving complete destruction in their wake.
I think WADA and other national drug free agencies are doing some great work and getting better at catching people, but we have to do more. There has to be a way that all countries can be tested equally and fairly, or at least more than is currently happening. I understand the funding discrepancies are an issue but why don’t the IOC or other governing bodies put in place regulations on governments to match the funding for drug testing that other countries allocate. Of course this would have pros and cons, but I’m at a loss trying to work out how it is even possible. I mean this shouldn’t even be an issue at all, curse the first person to start taking drugs in sport for they have forever taken away some of the purity and beauty that makes sport so amazing.
I see the pain my crew and team goes through to get where they are and to fight for medals in the end. But I’m concerned that when we line up against 5 other men’s eights ready for battle, chances are that some of those athletes are cheating and bringing guns to a fist fight. In summary, I’m happy for our men’s quad that they will be given another chance. But I am extremely frustrated at the cheater and the entire evil side of sport that shouldn’t even exist.