Jewish World Review August 19, 2004 / 2 Elul, 5764

Felice Cohen

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Time to rethink steroids at the Olympics? | Chiseled muscles, colorful matching Adidas warm-up suits and bags of empty syringes. The Summer Olympics are back, and this time with almost as many drug testers as athletes.

In Athens, a three-story laboratory was built exclusively to prevent athletes from taking steroids, part of the International Olympic Committee's anti-doping battle which has been going on for 30 years, ever since an Olympic cyclist died from taking steroids at the Rome Games in 1960.

More than 100 people at the 2004 games are working around the clock drawing thousands of urine and blood samples to test for the hormone that stimulates red blood cell production and the human growth hormone that builds more muscle, with the goal to catch dopers. These doping "controls" were presumably put in place to ensure an equal chance for all athletes. But regardless of taking performance enhancers, how equal is the playing field in the first place?

Donate to JWR

Let's say for a moment we allowed doping for all Olympians. Yes, it sounds farfetched, but who doesn't drink a cup of coffee in the morning to perform better at work? Think of the opportunity in Athens: the world's best athletes, the top pharmaceutical companies and expert physicians, all working together to help the athletes win the gold. And this could even increase the sluggish ticket sales and boost attendance!

Who wouldn't tune in to watch swimmers slicing through the water like dolphins or gymnasts soaring higher on the uneven bars or runners leaving smoke in their wakes? Just imagine the new world records being set!

But of course there are purists who would not partake for their own reasons.

There have been many clean gold medal winners who were committed to winning because they practiced harder, were more determined and better athletes, even when their opponents were doping. To be realistic, even if doping were allowed, we would still not achieve the IOC's goal of equality for everyone. It is impossible.

American athletes arrive at the Games having trained in superior facilities and with unquestionably better gear: aerodynamic swimsuits, ultra high-tech sneakers and titanium bicycles - all designed to optimize human effort - just like steroids. Compare that to the athletes who spent years training in inferior conditions and probably couldn't even afford a pair of sneakers. In either case, whether there is doping or not, "equality" across the board is unrealistic.

Olympians train to be the best in the world and deserve every chance. If the IOC really wants to provide equal opportunities for every Olympian, maybe they should start by giving everyone equal access to the top facilities and the best gear. Obviously this is impossible. The world will never be equal.

Ultimately we know that athletes will do whatever it takes to win --- whether it's practicing harder or taking steroids. And there will always be inequalities that cannot be controlled. So the next time we read about an athlete who was disqualified because he or she used drugs, maybe we should not look at it so much as cheating, but as evening the playing field.

Comment on JWR contributor Felice Cohen's column by clicking here.


07/20/04: An ideal birthday: One year older
07/12/04: Presents of the past
07/02/04: Chained or changed?
06/10/04: Waiting game
06/01/04: Sticks and stones
05/19/04: Psychic seekings: The gift
04/21/04: The latest job fad: China dolls for hire may be
04/16/04: Stories to be told
03/31/04: Shades of gray
03/23/04: Rejoice, ‘preppy’ is back
03/16/04: Taking a bad shot

© 2004, Felice Cohen