In a continued theme of sharing my opinion on controversial topics of endurance sports, I will share my thoughts after attending The US Olympic Marathon Trials at Los Angeles this past weekend.
If you have read my blog recently, you know my feelings on *Ryan Hall. I understand and appreciate the commitment to performance at the highest level of sport. But once you cross into an area where you are trying to find loopholes in the doping regulations, you are becoming a doper yourself. If you can't sustain a level of training without medication designed solely and specifically to help you sustain it, you're cheating. It's doping.
In the 2012 London Olympics, the men's 10,000 meter run was probably one of the most exciting races for an American I have watched in distance running in my entire lifetime. Galen Rupp, like *Ryan's great performances, had me in awe, excited about the future of the sport of distance running in this country.
But then the truth began to come out. And it is no surprise that Galen Rupp, like *Ryan Hall, is in the same category, training under Alberto Salazar and his Nike Oregon Project, (NOP), and has been a part of not just thyroid medication, but is accused and being investigated for a series of anti-doping violations, including testosterone treatments.
So I will now refer to *Galen Rupp with an asterisk as well, (as well as *Alberto Salazar), from this point forward. But even worse, as I watched a great race unfold in LA, I saw a winner of a race celebrated, as though there is no fire where there is smoke.
(Full disclosure: Meb is my friend, and I have known him for 21 years, since we were both 18, training some together in college, and racing each other a lot. I was obviously cheering for him, but he is on the Olympic Team, and that was the main goal, whether winning the race or getting 3rd).
Even worse, in what I can only describe as disgusting and disillusioned, is the response of much of the running community, toward those who are speaking out. One quick look to the YouTube video comments on Kara Goucher's post-race comments, and LetsRun threads on her comments, and you would think she was a doper, based on how they treat her. (It's one of the reasons I don't contribute to message boards like that.) To sum it up, they are burning her on the cross for even making the allegations, despite the fact she is supported in her statements by her own experience, other individuals and a lot of evidence. It's like Lance Armstrong, Part 2. To shoot them down is to treat them like Greg Lemond was treated, or Paul Kimmage, or others who tried to speak out but their careers were ruined because people didn't want to believe something so good could be so wrong. *Galen and *Salazar may be winning races, but they are not above the rules. And they are not above answering to the evidence. They are innocent until proven guilty, but let's not act like strong suspicions shouldn't be considered, when the evidence is mounting.
One can argue the timing looks bad, because she got 4th and it is at a major event. I think the timing is exactly the right time, when the sport is in the public's eye, and she can show she did things the right way and was still successful, while the ones we believe are cheating won.
I respect Kara Goucher. I respect her husband Adam. They were a part of Salazar's NOP crew, and left because they knew what was happening was wrong. Adam decided to walk away from the sport and keep his conscience. I wish I could say the same about others. I have heard some say they both did the things within the NOP, so they are guilty too. The difference is they left because of it. They spoke out against it. They didn't wait until it became news and then suddenly were against it. They've never once tried to defend it, or hide any of it. They didn't get caught and then have to apologize. They've spoken out from the beginning.
I hope this is completed and settled before the Olympics for *Galen and *Alberto, so if they are innocent, some can celebrate them. I won't be able to do so, nor remove the asterisks though, because they are just like *Ryan, trying to loophole the anti-doping regulations. To me that is doping. But if they are guilty of even more, I would rather have the clean athletes representing my country.