Just some food for thought

JUSTIN GATLIN IS INVISIBLE TO ME, TOO!!

If you clicked on this article simply because of the gossipy nature of the title, you have given credibility to the overall premise: People are drawn to controversy, negativity and hate.

What I am about to share is probably controversial but it isn’t filled with hate, so if that’s what you came for you can stop reading now.

Over the last few days in the world of Track and Field, people have chosen to focus their attention on one name in particular -- Justin Gatlin. So, to carry on with the theme, I will use “Justin” too, although the name could be substituted with the names of countless others who have been sanctioned for having committed a doping offense.

Ok, off we go!

Dear booing spectators,
As a fan you have every right to be disappointed with doping, it is destructive in so many ways but as humans we have an obligation to show other humans compassion. That is a person with feelings you are directing all that negative energy towards. Clearly, this is easier said than done but “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Dear angry blogger/teammate,
Your article would have been much more effective if you had written about having asked Justin directly about the circumstances surrounding his doping instead of searching for and referring to a few of the MANY negative articles that have been written.

Your blog says Justin trusted someone else with massage lotion putting himself at risk. The irony is, you and Justin are pretty similar in this respect. You counted on someone else for your information and doing so puts you at risk. What if they didn't ask all the pertinent questions or share everything they knew just the stuff they wanted too?

It’s easy to be brave behind a keyboard but a professional would walk down the hall, or (at a minimum) send a DM on Instagram addressing the individual directly about your hang up. As we continue to try and professionalize this sport, it is best to communicate directly with your colleague directly and privately before taking other measures.

To focus on one person seems unfair when there are others who have served a ban that are currently competing. As long as the cheaters are not winning then is it not worth talking about? If you are passionate about a subject it should be worth shouting about from the roof top, no matter the circumstance or day of the week.

I am not defending doping. I am defending compassion. Spreading hate is destructive. Asking questions and participating in the conversation is constructive. Let’s not talk about problems unless we are also willing to be part of the solution.

Possible solutions to the current problem raised:

  1. If you have a problem get active! Don’t say what committee X or NGB Y is not doing to solve the problem, join the team. Write directly to the organization you think has the ability to act on your beliefs. The USATF Annual Meeting is in December. Please show up and participate in the conversation. This is a place where an athlete's voice can be heard and when a collective body (that has done it’s research and has concrete support for it’s position) speaks people will listen. If thousands were asking questions and demanding an explanation vs just booing and talking negatively among themselves, believe me, it would cause a response.
  2. We are well within our right to demand more research about the long term effects of the various banned substances so that sanctions can be more appropriately distributed. Let's start having this discussion with those who are capable of doing the research.
  3. As part of any doping sentence large or small similar to probation or community service in addition to time served there should be some requirement to share your story publicly. Doping affects more than the person who has been sanctioned. I’ve had enough of us granting dopers the professional courtesy of talking behind their back. The more transparency we have, the more educated we can be and the better off we all are. Though some will disagree, I think it would be more effective to have a sanctioned athlete marching around doing UNPAID clean sport clinics talking to the those who are susceptible to drug use about their story and encouraging them not to take the same path they did.

I don't have all the answers but I am dedicated to continue asking the hard questions. I am retired. I could have the attitude that this isn't my business anymore but I love this sport and I hate what doping is doing to it. There are many ways Track and Field, Olympic sports in general and the fight against doping can be improved. I chose to take an active role in making it better for those who are coming behind me.