Readers Roundtable: Has Doping Ruined Rio?

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Normally we anxiously await the Summer Olympics, looking forward to incredible athletic feats and heart-stopping photo finishes. But this year, doping has cast a pall on the luster of Olympic gold.

Doping, apparently, is everywhere. Just last week, the IAAF, citing a state-run cheating scheme, unanimously ruled to ban the Russian Track & Field team from competing in Rio. As we write, the IAAF is also investigating running powerhouse countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.

While we hail the IAAF finally cracking down on what was perhaps the worst-kept secret in world-class running, it’s just the latest blow in a series of doping related news in running. Just a few months ago, we were celebrating Genzebe Dibaba smashing the world indoor mile record, reading articles in Vogue about her, and speculating how many golds she’d take home from Rio. Now, we hear her coach was busted in a doping scandal too. It makes us wonder if anyone is running clean. It’s disheartening. Has doping formed a cloud so dark that it casts doubt on every great running performance?

What do you think? Has doping spoiled your excitement about Rio?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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4 comments

  1. I am definitely excited for the Olympics but have also mentally prepared myself for the fact that those doubts are going to be there. Can we really celebrate amazing performances when there is the dark cloud that seems to be hovering over the sport we love (and others). Instead of celebrating, we question. I don’t like having that glass half empty kind of attitude, and I try not to with most things but all of the scandals have made it hard as of late.

    While Dibaba’s coach scandal was bad, and definitely was like oh damn here we go again. I wasn’t shocked, and I already had doubts about how “real” her recent records were.

    I have a ton of thoughts on the Russian aspect of this (for another day), but related to this post I feel like that whole ordeal will cast another shadow as the games go on. How many times are we going to hear the announcers mention it? Oh so and so from USA and some other country got the medals, but remember folks Russia wasn’t here! Will the coverage and comments about that take away from the moment of glory for other athletes?

  2. I hate that so much of the sport’s past is now clouded in suspicion (basically, I’m betting about zero record performance in the last 30 years were dope-free). I actually feel hopeful for Rio, because it may just be the cleanest Olympics in decades, which isn’t saying much, but it’s a start.

  3. Although so many great performances are now clouded by suspicion, I have a slightly more positive outlook for Rio: with such scrutiny and a tough crackdown, I hope that as a result we have the cleanest performances ever from here out.

  4. I agree that I’m more disturbed by the past than I am by the current trials. That might be naive, but I just love the Olympics so, so much, and I want to celebrate the now. I want to experience the joy as all the athletes accomplish what they’ve worked so hard for, and I hate to think that some of that pure excitement is clouded by doping. I hope that the technology to test for doping is getting better than the ability to dope itself, and that’s keeping me excited.