Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard the Mark Block doping news. I typically don’t jump into this type of conversation, but since everyone is talking about it, I thought I’d chime in – from a different perspective.
First let me say that I’m glad USADA and the IAAF are taking a strong stance against doping. As an athlete who has been in the game for almost 11 years, I think it’s long overdue, and let me tell you why.
Last year I was named the 2002 US 200M champion because the gold medalist who won was slapped with a doping sanction. Now pause and let that soak in. Last year – 2010 – I was named the 2002 US 200M champion. That’s EIGHT years after I crossed the line.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’ll take the title all day long, but NOW, that is “all” that it is. I don’t have a medal. I don’t have the prize money. I don’t have podium pictures to show my daughter. I don’t have a videotape of me crossing the finish line first. My point: is the damage is done. The memory is already etched in history.
I guess what I’m getting at is…yes, doping damages the perception of track and field and it dampens the excitement that comes with reaching the highest pinnacles of the sport…but it also impacts lives – our lives – athletes like me who are out here grinding every day, trying to make the most of our God-given talents. WE are the ones who have to answer the questions and RE-set the example for the boys and girls who want to grow up and be the fastest men and women in the world. WE have to show them that shortcuts kill your integrity, disappoint your fans and bring shame to your family. WE have to show them that cheating doesn’t pay.
Chew on this for a second: If I could have won fair and square in 2002, I would have become a US champion ONE year after turning pro. I would have been a back-to-back US champion going into the 2004 Olympics…a champion who helped my team bring home a silver medal. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and only God knows what WOULD have been…unfortunately I can’t rewrite history, even if stuff is taken out of the record books.
In the eight years that it took for the dope folks to issue the doping sanction that gave me the 2002 US title, I made five teams, recovered from two injuries and a recent surgery. Meanwhile the cheaters prospered and reveled in the glory that their greed gave them. Eight years later, they’re on to the next one. ..
I want to be very clear. I’m not taking a shot at USADA, the IAAF, USATF, or any other governing body of the sport. What I AM doing is telling all of the cheaters, cheater-aides and anyone who is thinking about cheating that when you make the decision to cheat, or help someone cheat you create a ripple effect that has lasting repercussions. Cheating is bigger than YOU. And, if you’re a cheater, then I’m sure you don’t care. But, for the record – I do. Just think about it.