A matter of substance

Now the Olympics are over and the controversy regarding the use of illegal substances by our athletes is being properly investigated, it would be good to hear a few truths. Of course, the matter has been hijacked by private television which – with its superficial and sensational outlook – has managed to «derail» it as it has done with other serious matters in the past, most recently Cyprus. However, the crux of the issue is quite clear from everything that disgraced sprinter Costas Kenteris is alleged to have told a prosecutor during his seven-hour deposition: The use of substances is prevalent in the world of athletics – whether these substances are legal is currently being examined. Naturally, the problem is not unique to Greece, its root being the International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself and the international sporting federations which long ago legitimized the use of tonics and vitamins, as athletic performance now demands more than the human body is capable of. Unlike his predecessor Samaranch, current IOC President Jacques Rogge has made it a priority to «clean up» the Olympics. Perhaps it would be worth examining a proposal made in a recent Economist article that certain rules governing the use of substances be laid down so that those that are not harmful to athletes’ health can be legitimized and there is less need for strict «policing» and international scandals. Either way, talented athletes need protection and rules…

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