An Open Letter to Dopers

imageDear Dopers,

You guys are jerks. Really, I’m not joking. You’re weak, mentally and morally. You’re incredibly selfish and whatever your motives are for doping, it’s not good enough and it never will be. You’re singlehandedly ruining this sport I love with my entire being. Worse, you’re making it incredibly difficult to not become jaded and cynical.

I may be biased, but running is the most beautiful and simplistic sport and that’s why I love it. Running is one foot in front of the other over and over. Running is the epitome of putting the work in, and seeing the tangible results. Competition in running is about who can get to the finish first, who can run faster than she ever has before, and who has put in the work. There is no subjectivity, no doubt about who won the World Championship Marathon, the Boston Marathon, the Olympic 10,000 meters race. It’s right there in black and white: whoever got there first wins. Clocks don’t lie.

But you, Dopers, you are tarnishing this simple beauty, muddying up what should be crystal clear waters. And I hate you for it.

The sport of running is rotting from the inside-out. Fans are disgusted and no performance is safe from scrutiny. I lay the blame at your feet, you individual cheaters, you doping ring in Kentucky, you cheaters in Kenya, Morrocco, and the entire athletic program of Russia (pun intended). You are destroying our sport by replacing the process of often frustratingly slow, but glorious cycles of physical depletion and recovery with quick-fix injections of hormones, testosterone, and “heart medications”.

This is how it's supposed to be ... sometimes.
This is how it’s supposed to be … sometimes.

Dopers, don’t you care? Don’t you feel hollow inside? Do you remember what it was like to dig so deep you lay yourself out on the track from pure exhaustion? Knowing you recruited every single meticulously trained fiber to be at its best to run your goal, whether it’s to win, to crack the top 10, or to PR and when you finish, you smile to yourself and know how lucky you are to be in this sport. Where did you lose that? Did you ever have that?

Dopers, can you imagine what it’s like for those who surf through those cycles of work and rest, day after day, week after week, without “medical enhancement” and still manage to beat you? Do you know what it’s like to be under a cloud of suspicion because of someone else’s bad behavior? It’s so incredibly unfair. It’s an atrocious situation clean athletes are placed in; having to prove they are clean.

Doper’s just get out of the sport, because, perhaps naively, I believe that as soon as more of you are out of our sport, the sport will flourish when every performance isn’t scrutinized. Plus, you don’t belong in this community. The beauty of our sport isn’t just in the purity of numbers, but in the idea that runners of all ages, abilities, genders, and ethnicities are able to come together for a common goal: to run as fast as their bodies will take them. There is no place for someone who wants to bypass hard work.

So please, Dopers, show yourself out. You’re just wasting your time anyway. The real benefits of running excellence aren’t the medals, the records, or the prizes. You’ll never understand that the real reward is the physical exhaustion that comes from pushing your body to its natural limitations, exceeding your own wildest dreams, and becoming better people in the process.

Don’t worry. After you’re gone, I’ll think of you sometimes, like when I remember how lucky I am to improve my body and soul through my hard work.

xo,

Paprika

I'm running as fast as I can so I can continue to put off law school. I was 39th at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February, and now am focused on running some road personal bests. Further in the future, I’m looking forward to running a quick fall marathon. I mainly write about the physical and mental aspects of racing at an elite level, trying to navigate the post collegiate running world, and setting aside other life goals for one; running fast.

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1 comment

  1. I agree that the worst thing about doping is that it injects so much cynicism and distrust into the sport. I mean, who even cares about the Tour de France any more? Ever since it came out as a doper’s paradise, I personally don’t even want to hear about the event. I mean, as someone with only a passing interest in competitive cycling, even I was wowed by the performances. Now I don’t want to waste my precious seconds or brain cells on competitive cycling. How horrible would that be if that happens to running?