Track and Field Might Be Doomed as a Sport

Critics: After more positive drugs tests, why should we trust anyone?

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2013 12:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – News that two of the world's top runners—American Tyson Gay and Jamaica's Asafa Powell—have tested positive for banned substances isn't just bad news for the sport. It might be fatal news for the sport, at least in the US, writes Philip Hersh at the Chicago Tribune. Years of positive doping tests going back to the Ben Johnson era had pretty much made track and field a joke before the latest revelations, and this just cements things. How can spectators trust anyone at this point? The benefit of the doubt is gone, and "for track and field, that can only hasten the death of a sport that already is on life support in the United States."

Christine Brennan at USA Today has a similar theme, warning that "the steppingstones to oblivion are filling in for the sport." We're nearly at the point where it's a waste of time for spectators. "If you can't trust a simple foot race going on before your eyes, why would you even bother to look?" A little less fatalistic is Nicholson Thompson at the New Yorker, who offers a suggestion to help clean things up. It's time to start punishing not just individual runners but their nations. "Countries can send three athletes to the Olympics in each track and field event," he writes. "What if, after a positive test of a medal winner, they only got to send two the next time?" Drug-testing agencies might add muscle, and peer pressure within the sport might begin to shift against doping. Still, he writes, "that might not be enough." (Meanwhile, Adidas already has suspended ties with Tyson, reports Reuters.)

Tyson Gay, left, and Asafa Powell frin a 2009 race.
Tyson Gay, left, and Asafa Powell frin a 2009 race.   (AP Photo/Thannasis Stavrakis, File)
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