The Big Eye, November 17, 2015

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It will come as little surprise to some of you that my reaction to the news that the world of big-money athletics is a swirling cesspit of drug cheats and villainy was a barely-concealed smirk. Possibly not the most adult of responses but the news confirmed my worst suspicion that the vast amount of money sloshing around in top level sports would bring out the worst in people.

When it comes to wanting to know whether person A or person B can jump, run or chuck a spear faster than anyone else I’m not in the least bit interested and I’m blowed if I can figure out why anyone else would be either. I’m not against sports but as someone with absolutely no athletic abilities at all you can see why the entire circus just might induce a yawn or two every time some wiry muscle-bound jock bounces across my telly in his skimpy shorts.

Money is the root of all evil and it’s sad to think that slowly but surely something that should be a joyous expression of vitality and endeavour is now measured in teeny micro seconds and is only achievable with vast wedges of dough and requires athletes to wear a vest with a watch or a cola trademark emblazoned on their bodies like a sandwich board. Like the first cheating car manufacturer who diddled us all with his rigged exhaust emissions we soon discovered that the rest of the industry is on a similar crooked tack and no doubt when we’ve all stopped pointing fingers at the Russians we’ll find they aren’t the only ones injecting and popping and intravenously dripping chemicals to make them run like the wind.

Humankind never ceases to disappoint me and I feel sorry for those who choose to live their lives vicariously through the triumphs and stadium moments of others whilst slumped on the sofa with a bag of nachos and a can of the aforementioned cola. The commentators talk about the athletes and their heartbreak and sacrifice and no doubt for every clean real-time runner there’s another fizzing with a variety of magic pharmaceuticals in his bloodstream desperate to gain the gold and the riches from product endorsement of telecom companies, building societies or vegetarian mince. The fact that there is this gigantic and bureaucratic system of testing to catch what must be a very large number of drug cheats surely suggests it is rife at all levels of professional sport. And if the only chance to fulfil your sporting dream is by cheating, then, if it’s that important, maybe you should take the risk and pop that pill!

It’s only a matter of time before some famous and much-loved Brit gets fingered by those trawling through the Russian laboratory’s files. We happily place them all on pedestals but can’t wait to kick them back into the gutter when we realise that these ‘Little Tin Gods’ are fallible and merely mortal. Now that’s a truly British sport!