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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an event sponsored by Nuun, a company that specializes in hydration for endurance athletes. Making an appearance was Olympian distance runner Kara Goucher, one of the elite athletes Nuun sponsors.
Just last month, Kara found out she would be upgraded from Bronze to Silver in her 2007 World Championship 10,000 meters after it was discovered that Elvan Abeylegesse, a Turkish runner, failed a doping test on a sample taken in 2007. Though excited, Goucher noted that the “mental/emotional/financial anguish of this has been difficult.”
Can you imagine being given an award ten years after competing in that event? I imagine her silver medal will be shipped via Priority Mail and barely anyone in the sports world will take notice or even hear this news.
Unfortunately, Kara’s story is becoming more and more common in the sports world. Even as dopers are busted, others seem to be slipping through the cracks or getting away with their crimes. And, yes, doping in sport should be considered a crime just like shoplifting, tax evasion, or credit card fraud. Athletes like Kara are being robbed of prize money, sponsorships and other endorsements year after year.
At this same event, I had the opportunity to meet one of the founders of the Clean Sport Collective, Kevin Burnette. From the CSC website…
“Clean Sport Collective is a community of powerful voices comprised of athletes, brands, events, clubs, fans and public to support the pursuit of clean sport and athletics through the absence of performance enhancing drugs.”
Several months ago I was one of thousands of athletes who took the #CleanSport pledge to compete as a clean athlete. Anyone can take this free pledge and sign the charter here: http://cleansport.org/join-us
But not only are athletes coming on board to sign this pledge. Major brands like Nuun and The North Face are also coming on board and taking a stand. These companies (and others) with large sponsorship budgets are making a commitment to support only clean athletes.
And they’re also taking it a step further. They refuse to sponsor any athlete who’s failed a doping test in the past. Rather than just a 2 year slap on the wrist that many dopers (i.e. Justin Gatlin) receive, these companies are essentially giving cheaters a lifetime ban which is what all of the governing bodies (IAAF, IOC, USATF, etc.) need to be doing as well. The trail of tears that dopers like Lance Armstrong have left behind them is simply too damaging to allow them the privilege of competing alongside those who desire to remain true to the abilities God has given them.
Here are five simple reasons that cheating in sports isn’t worth it…
1.) You’re STEALING from others – I touched on this above but dopers are literally robbing other hard-working athletes who’ve obeyed the rules. That’s not to say these dopers aren’t training hard themselves. Dopers might be elite (or not) athletes but they’re trying to gain an illegal edge over other hard-working athletes. Identity thieves work hard to steal from honest, hard-working citizens. Heck, Bernie Madoff worked hard to earn the trust of his wealthy investors. Unfortunately, he lied and did things that were illegal. In the end, hard-working citizens lost millions (even billions) and ole’ Bernie ended up with a lifetime ban.
2.) You’re stealing from YOURSELF – When a person cheats, they prove that they lack confidence in their own God-given abilities. They’re essentially saying, “I don’t measure up to the competition so I need to cheat.” Put more bluntly, they’re saying, “I don’t like or love myself as I am…so I’ll put on a façade.” Cheaters are willing to risk a lifetime of ridicule and disrespect for fifteen minutes of glory. Is it really worth it? Just ask Lance.
3.) You’re HURTING others – Drug addicts rarely think about the fact that they’re hurting loved ones including family and friends. Most of the time they’re just thinking about themselves and how they’re going to get that next fix. How many times have family members bailed someone out of jail without ever being repaid? How about the headlines that dirty the family name? How about the broken trust of friends? And all the kids around the country who look up to these athletes as heroes? The list of heartbreak could go on and on.
4.) You’re hurting your BODY – Cheating athletes many times have a lifetime of physical consequences they face as a result of just a few years of doping. Here are some of the side effects of illegal substances based on research by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)…
Anabolic Androgenic Steroids: greasy skin and acne, infertility, hypertension, liver and kidney dysfunction, aggressive behavior, tumors.
EPO: increased viscosity of blood, hypertension, myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, pulmonary embolism, convulsions.
HGH: Acromegaly (overgrowth of limbs), soft tissues swelling, abnormal growth of organs, arthropathies (joint disorders), diabetes mellitus.
Cannabinoid:impaired balance and coordination, loss of concentration, increase in heart rate, increased appetite, drowsiness, hallucination.
Sound like fun? And that’s just a short list of the substances being used by athletes to gain an “edge.”
5.) You’re wounding your CONSCIENCE – What if athletes like Lance were never caught? What if athletes like Lance never developed physical side effects? No big deal right? Not exactly. You see, these cheaters have to live with themselves for the rest of their lives. They have to face themselves in the mirror morning after morning, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. They know the truth. After all, the word conscience literally means “with knowledge.” Every time they see those shiny medals, they know the truth. Every time a kid asks them for an autograph, they know the truth. Every time they’re invited to speak at a banquet, they know the truth. Even if nobody else knows (which is rare), they know. They have to spend their days living in their own skin and putting on that mask. They have to keep lying and finding new ways to cover their tracks. They have to keep pretending that it doesn’t really matter because “everyone cheats every now & then.”
But for those of us who want to explore the depths of our natural abilities through good nutrition, quality training, and old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears…we’re going to sleep well tonight.
Because we also know the truth.
And the TRUTH will set you free.
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