Doping & Dosh Demand New Deal: Where The Winner Takes All The Cheat Should Lose All

Editorial: Swimming is not soccer, nor golf, nor tennis, nor baseball, nor basketball. It is in a different financial league. Even so, rewards have now reached a level at which there ought to be a contract between the high-earning athlete and the high-paying sport: the winner takes all; the cheat loses all

All SwimVortex articles are placed in our archive after five days, the library of content available to subscribers.
Log In Register

Editorial: Swimming is not soccer, nor golf, nor tennis, nor baseball, nor basketball. It is in a different financial league. Even so, rewards have now reached a level at which there ought to be a contract between the high-earning athlete and the high-paying sport: the winner takes all; the cheat loses all

Comments

Bad Anon

The handling of the cases of Sun and Park will be watched very closely. Caesar Cielo got away with a slap on the wrist in2011 for his doping controversy. a precedent may have been set. athletes will use all their means to escape consequences of a positive test and Fina is sadly enabling such regretable events to continue

Francene

While I do not approve of Armstrong at all, I think that the witch hunt and uneven penalties he has faced are not right. If he is banned for life, why isn’t Sun and Park and a huge list of other swimmers?

And one thing that has always bothered me… if Armstrong was caught in unconventional ways, how is that right? Do you know how many other athletes would be caught if the same attention was given to catching them?

You can argue that Armstrong profited greatly monetarily from his winnings and should be subject to greater scrutiny if sport is about money to you, but in the same breath you could probably also argue that every single person he was competing against were doping equally… at least all of the top ones. So was there really an unfair gain monetarily.

As far as sport goes, it is the unequal penalties than are most unfair. Almost certainly any elite athlete caught with a masking agent knew they shouldn’t be taking it and were doing it for a reason. Why such minor penalties?

Whether you are winning, or just taking a national team spot from someone, it is just as devastating to those missing out. It can be something someone has trained a lifetime for that gets taken away from them because of cheating. So it should not just be the high profile cases that get such punishment. If Armstrong gets such punishment, all cheaters should.

Craig Lord

Francene, I agree with the unequal treatment position as far as all needing to be treated as equally as possible under the terms of the WADA Code and the prevailing rules and laws. Local/national conditions and even laws get in the way, while authorities with anti-doping responsibilities continually fail to treat athletes evenly when it comes to same-substance offence (and in other ways) even when there is no obvious extenuating circumstance.
However, the solution is no to ease up on Armstrong and others of that ilk. He was a boaster & worse, much more leader han follower and a liar at the same time and he hurt a great many people, including some around him and a numbers of journalists, some colleagues of mine, who were lambasted as liars for years when actually they were telling the truth. His case is different and he deserves to be singled out as an example when it comes to sending a clear message: we don’t behave like this, and those who do must go and forfeit their ill-gotten gains.
In my opinion, there is no comparing his case with those of many others, including Sun and Park – and I say that without meaning to defend those or any other swimmers (and entourages) who fall foul of anti-doping rules. They must also serve their penalty – and penalty should extend to the FINA Bureau – for either the Chinese member of that Bureau broke the WADA Code or the FINA Executive Director did in Park’s case… the only other alternative is that both broke it. They should tell the truth and answer the question we and others have asked of them: when did FINA first know about the Sun Yang positive?
p.s. – to those (not you, Francene but I place this not here for visibility) who sent in comments saying ‘this nation doped’; ‘that nation doped’ etc – I’m not approving that tit for tat stuff because it is not very meaningful and isn’t helpful to the serious issue of tackling doping in sport … it also leads others to stray into comments that go beyond the bounds of media law we must adhere to. There is a difference between national rates of positives – and some stand out … there is also a difference in how those positives come to be, both within countries and when comparing nations. Thanks for understanding.

Viva la Bang

No drug cheats will ever tell the truth, look at the GDR , in the amateur days, money in sports breeds cover ups and corruption.

Viva la Bang

Its common sense, if you are willing to cheat, you are willing to lie!

Jim C

Lance Armstrong’s case is different and he deserves to be singled out to send a message we don’t behave like this. But what is the message of there is no comparing his case to those of many(any?) others?

Why aren’t you willing to say that what swimmers including Park and Sun did was just as bad as what Armstrong did?

Craig Lord

Jim C: because it wasn’t. I do not see bullying, leading, egging others on to take doping and much else in the case of Sun Yang and Park Tae-hwan (the latter a case yet to be decided, the former a case in which, we are led to believe, involves a medical condition, if one choses to believe that). In the pool, I do not see myriad denials and accusations that journalists are lying; I do not see legal threats galore against journalists who were actually telling the truth; nor in the swim cases do I see the creation of a cancer charity and the trust broken between a role model athlete (his profile and influence way beyond those of Sun and Park internationally) and scores of very sick and vulnerable people. The name Lance Armstrong cropped up as a ‘hero’ in the biogs of very many swimmers, among others, down the years – all were duped. His case is different, no question, in my opinion. (none of which is to excuse any doping – as you know, I do no such thing)

Martin

I really cannot understand the attitude that suggests that Arsmtrong should have been dealt with more ‘leniantly’. At best, its whataboutery, and more often than not its a fully conscious defence of doping. – a defence that frankly should have the maker exiled from any say in elite sport.

He behaved like scum, above and beyond the systematic drug abuse and cheating; he deserves to be trated that way. The luck of others (say Riis) in ‘getting away with it’ is neither here nor there, a ridiculous argument.

To argue otherwise is the equivalent of arguing Harold Shipman should have been allowed to walk free, because decades earlier John Bodkins Adams got away with the same type of crimes. Which, I would hope, most agree, is a farcical argument.

I’m Irish. Our greatest swimmer – arguably our only truly notable one – was doped to the gills. Frankly, she was about one syringe away from actually growing gills. And as a consequnce our most ‘successful’ Olympic athlete in history is not a national hero, but an embarrassing afterthought. The only ray of light was that her performances were so suspicious from the getgo that sponsors tended to steer clear (H&S notwithstanding).

No nation is immune, human nature being what it is. Every nation has dopers. But anyone who remembers the GDR years also knows that an entire national culture can be poisoned to make certain areas or countries ‘leaders’ in foul play. It is legitimate, where evidence begins to show, to hound out such leaders. Unless you liked Kornelia Enders turning into a man before your eyes, in which case, seek help.

For my part, I wish other countries followed the lead of France, and latterly Germany, in criminalising sports doping. It’s basically both drug abuse, and also fraud. Both criminal matters in other areas of life. The four years just handed to baseballer Alex Rodruiguez’s doctor and dope supplier may be a salutory lesson. I hope so.

I also believe all registered athletes should be made to swear on oath, at the beginning and end of each season, as a condition of entry to any competition that they swam dope free that year. the extra penalties available re perjury, which finally trapped Armstrong, can and should be used.

Jim C

So the American doper created a cancer charity, and you are saying that makes him worse than the Chinese or the Korean doper because they did not create cancer charities. Perhaps you might want to go into some more detail about why establishing a cancer charity is a bad thing?

Bad Anon

The high profile doping cases of Lance Armstrong revealed a systematic pattern of avoiding being caught and LYING to federal agents; journalists etc. neither athlete actually failed a doping test though the long arm of the law eventually caught up with them and overwhelming evidence to suggest they were actually doped at the peak of their careers are available. What would be an even bigger tragedy would be for athletes like Phelps and Ledecky to admit ti doping many years from now. Marion Jones was stripped of her medals 7 years after the fact. Sun and Park’s cases both having their own merits; the failure of the system being Cielo’s escape of punishment after a positive test for a masking agent; the temptation to cheat and beat the system always remains

Jim C

Martin doesn’t understand the attitude that Armstrong should have been dealt with more leniently–and then he cites the case of Michelle Smith who still has her gold medals, who has not to my knowledge ever admitted to doing anything wrong, has not apologized to people she hurt such as Janet Evans, and was still enough of a celebrity in Ireland to appear on Celebrities Gone Wild–and if she had not failed a later drug test, people who expressed their doubts about her performance would very likely still be treated in the shameful fashion that Janet Evans was in 1996.

Craig Lord

JimC, it is not the creation of a cancer charity that is the problem – he was able to do that because of his ‘hero/personality/healed soul’ status .. and in doing what he did he became an even bigger hero for many – when actually he was a liar, a deceiver, a cheat and not worthy of the status he claimed through doping. Sick indeed the man who used drugs to cheat in sport knowing they were designed for the very sick people he said he did it all for. Sorry, you won’t persuade me, he was bad through and through on a number of levels that simply don’t apply to the swimmers you keep mentioning (swimmers whose doping offences pale by comparison by the way, even though, again, I do not excuse any of it and believe that those who cheat should be banned for life)

Craig Lord

JimC, I think it is quite clear that Martin is not suggesting it a good thing that Smith was dealt with ‘leniently’ given that she kept medals won at a time when many questioned her status. Neither is he suggesting that she should have kept her medals (though she is far from being alone in that). I think many here agree with the view that penalties should be more consistently tough with proven cheats – inc removal of all prizes not just six months back …. but the way to argue that is not to ask ‘why are you all being overly nasty to Lance’… he deserves everything he has got… and his case is not comparable to those of sun and park, for example, in my view. Armstrong’s behaviour then and his attitude since and even words spoken in the past few weeks all add up to shameful … he remains of the view that it wasn’t his fault, somehow, his guilt more collective … he was just following the crowd and had to cheat to stand a chance. I don’t hold with any of the self-excusuing stuff – its pathetic: he should go and build a new life – for he has none left in sport – and that’s a good thing. There is certainly a case for more even-handed treatment of doping offenders/cases but many are not the same/comparable – Armstrong stands out because he made himself and his case stand out on several levels that don’t apply to others.

Jim C

Craig Lord

You are making excuses for Sun and Park. Saying what they did is not as bad as what Armstrong did is making excuses for them.
But OK, maybe you are right. But maybe Armstrong supporters are right when they say he was a victim of a witch hunt, and that what he did was a lot less serious than what was done by people who actually failed drug tests. There was widespread doping among cyclists in the Armstrong years. His use of dope did not make him so different from many other top cyclists of the time. If you want to say all dopers are the same, then you might argue none of this matters–but you are taking the position that Armstrong is worse. I see cheating to beat swimmers who were honest as worse than cheating to beat cyclists who were also dopers. Of course I may be mistaken in my assumption that the swimmers Sun and Park beat were honest.

On the other hand, I don’t believe drug cheats like Sun and Park would have behaved any better than Armstrong if they had been treated the way Armstrong was without ever failing a drug test.

Bad Anon

Armstrong was probably a scapegoat in a much bigger doping scandal so was Marion Jones in the BALCO scandal. Both athletes exposed after Criminal investigations were done. there is no evidence (yet) to suggest either Park or Sun were/are involved in a systematic doping program; their positive tests having explanations of sorts; prescription medicine and a case of an “illegal” injection. when it comes to money Armstrong and Jones were millionaires with greater global appeal more than the most successful swimmers of their time

Jim C

Unlike Sun in China and Park in South Korea were both rather minor figures in the sports scene in America.

Jim C

I mean Armstrong and Jones were both rather minor figures.

aswimfan

Armstrong’s and Marion’s Jones Sydney Olympics medals were stripped from them.

And yet, we have active swimmers like Park, Sun Yang, Mellouli, Hardy, Cielo, Efimova, etc parading around with their Olympics and Worlds medals. And I am not even talking about 90s Chinese or 70s and 80s East Germans.

FINA is still protecting all the top swimmers, just like UCI protected Armstrong and IAAF protected Jones. Both Armstrong and Jones would not have been punished if not for federal investigations anyway.

Craig Lord

JimC: if Armstrong and Jones were minor figures in the US, fair to note that they were not minor elsewhere, really not; they were (and remain for reasons other than their sport) among the most recognised names in sport in Europe, for example. Their ‘successes’ and their downfalls were front-page/back-page news across a great swathe of national publications (not to mention the broadcast headlines), their stories bouncing from the sports pages to the news pages as matters turned sour. Sun Yang, on the other hand, would raise a “who?” if you were to do a street vox pox across a swathe of large European cities beyond the niche swim community.

Craig Lord

Quite so, aswimfan but in law there is difference in all the cases you mention. Prizes are kept because that is what the WADA Code, FINA Rules and the CAS allow for. The rules on prizes, medals and money, should be revisited, as my editorial suggests

Martin

Craig

You are of course quite right, I am not in the slightest defending Smith de Bruin, and only the most blinkered Armstrong loyalist would try to suggest otherwise.

It should be pretty obvious that i’m condemning her as a disgusting cheat and a fraud, and a complete stain on my country. Her continued career in my profession (law) galls me.

My point was simple. NO country is free of doping. None. Including mine. No country is ‘whiter than white’. But that does not mean certian countries do not have ‘special issues’

As for ‘celebrities gone wild’, a brief view of the Irish press around that show would make clear that the public were entirely nonplussed by her selection…and she chose/was forced to scrap several publicity events and interviews when media refused to agree not to quiz her on her doping.

Hope that’s clear enough JimC. You suggest what happened to Armstrong was a witch-hunt. In other words, you’re a supporter of scum on a whataboutery basis. Fine, your choice.

But you know what, if it was a witch-hunt? Good. Because he WAS a big ****ing witch.

Jim C

Craig

You will notice that Martin doesn’t say he even thinks Michelle Smith was dealt with leniently. He shows no concern for people like Janet Evans who were hurt by Smith and her Irish supporters including the head of the Irish Olympic Committee who accused the Americans of Uncle Samism. Calling her a stain on his country shows concern for the reputation of Ireland, but I see no concern for those outside of Ireland who were hurt. He does not say he thinks she should give back her Olympic medals. He says Armstrong is scum, but he does not say that Michelle Smith is scum. As a lawyer I really think he should have thought about what he was doing a little more before bringing Michelle Smith into the conversation.

John Smith

Marion and Lance never tested positive. The problem is testing….. not just punishment.

Craig Lord

Jim C, I can’t speak for Martin but my guess is that he thinks fairly ill of the choices Michelle Smith made and would wish to see her hand back her medals. I would imagine he would also be happy to see Smith apologise to Evans just as we would all be happy if an awful lot of cheaters confessed and said sorry to those they hurt. As far as Lance Armstrong goes, I have heard ‘sorry’ in general but I see an attitude that says ‘I’m not sorry for being a key promotor of cheating because they were all at it, so what could I do?’ … (fairly close to the excuses made by Smith’s husband to be when he tested positive and was suspended from track and field) … and I certainly have not heard of any personal apology that he most surely owes the likes of Paul Kimmage and David Walsh, among other journalists. I think you can assume, Jim, that Martin, among many others here, wish cheats to be dealt with consistently and as harshly as is reasonable. Even so, Armstrong, as I’ve said, made himself a hero and a villain through his own acts, not just in doping himself but in the wider role of deceit and bad behaviour and mistreatment of others that accompanies his story. Some cases deserve singular treatment because of the weight they carry.

I agree that the Sun Yang case is ridiculous and that it beholds those with anti-doping powers (FINA is the enforcer of the WADA Code in this case) should not only have challenged the three months but should now impose a second penalty on Sun and his doctor for having broken the WADA Code and FINA rules a second time by working together at the Asian Games at a time when the doctor was serving a ban. A second offence would place the swimmer out of the world champs this summer … it is what should happen under the WADA Code for those who breach very clear rules. The rules stretch to penalties for those at the top table of FINA that knew of Sun’s case long before Nov 24 and revealed nothing, in contravention of the WADA Code and FINA Rules. Those people should fall on their swords.

None of which detracts from the fact that Armstrong was singled out because he and his case deserved that to be so.

Jim C

Craig

I will agree with you that Armstrong deserved to be singled out, if you will agree with me that every star in every sport who uses drugs and is at least 18 deserves to be singled out in the same way. If you do not agree with that, I want to know why you think we should go easy on any of these cheaters.

Craig Lord

Yes, I agree with you Jim for any athlete of that age (same for entourage and folk in shadows) who knowingly cheated (assisted cheating) and set out to get one over on all others and present themselves as something they are not. Where there is room for debate between any of us is those cases where it is not clear that intent played a part. Singling out can’t be entirely in the ‘same’ way because no cases are the same (not just the drug and penalty and circumstance but the whole story/attitude of athlete/coach etc) … but If you mean singled out in the same way in that they should be singled out/called out as cheats and face the full extent of penalties, I agree.

Leave a comment

Post a comment with your SwimVortex Account. Don't have a SwimVortex Account, Sign Up?

(*) Fields are required!
×