Perspective over Narrative

One thing that I like to provide here at Winners Win other than chat/advice/stories on betting is some perspective. This past week there’s been the World Championships in Beijing, I haven’t watched any of it as I personally find athletics to be boring. But I haven’t escaped the ridiculous narrative that Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin were engaged in some sort of morality battle where the integrity of athletics was on the line.

Justin Gatlin was cast in the role of the villain, apparently the only sportsman ever to be charged with doping. While definitely, 100% clean Usain Bolt was playing the role of the hero.

After Bolt won both the 100m and 200m this past week, his victories have been labelled “inspirational” and “athletics has been saved”.

When stories are being spun on athletics, especially sprint events, around integrity and morality that’s when we need to step in and condense the nonsense.

Gatlin’s far from the only sprinter who’s ever took performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Some of the most famous sprinters ever have been caught or at least strongly suspected of cheating. He wasn’t even the only guy running in the 100m final last week to have been caught doping! Not that I want to condone his past actions, but painting people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the dirty world of sprinting, considering its long history of doping offences is ludicrous, especially when it relies upon the unquestioning belief that one guy is undoubtedly clean.

Show the photo below to your average sports fan, you know what they would probably say:

Ben Johnson winning the 100m final at the 1988 Olympics

“Look at how far Ben Johnson is ahead of the other guys. You could just tell he was doping.”

Even though this is now referred to as the “dirtiest race in history” as plenty of other guys doped including the golden boy of that time: Carl Lewis.

Now show this photo to your average Joe, and guess what they would say:

Usain Bolt winning the 100m final at the 2008 Olympics

Usain Bolt! The greatest of all time. Inspirational!

Even though Usain Bolt got a bad start, and was celebrating well before the line as he had such a large lead… and still he broke the World Record at that time! And people still have such unthinking conviction that he’s clean?!

Consider that Jamaica only has a population of about 2.8 million and has produced many sprinters, many of which have taken banned substances including Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell…but Bolt is definitely clean right?

But your average man in the street will believe whatever the media has him believe, and probably won’t know about the association Bolt has with a man called Angel Heredia. Heredia worked with Victor Conte at BALCO, he was caught as a steroid dealer and user, and later testified against CJ Hunter, Tim Montgomery, Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin (yes, him), providing comprehensive evidence of PED use. In 2008 Angel Heredia legally changed his name to Angel Hernandez. Also in 2008 Angel Heredia/Hernandez gave an interview with The New York Times where he acknowledged that he had helped clients use PEDs and avoid detection. He also referred to himself as a chemist, scientist and nutritionist.

In 2009 he began working with Usain Bolt as his ‘track coach’.

What? Why would the world’s greatest ever sprinter need the services of a shady ‘chemist’ who had been affiliated with BALCO and multiple dirty sprinters? It doesn’t make any sense.

The point I’m making is that when Bolt is marketed as a 100% clean athlete, that deserves to be questioned. I tend to think in terms of percentages here and I don’t think the chance that he’s clean is 100%.  I don’t think those chances are 0% either, but all things considered the chances for me are closer to 0% than 100%.

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