Drugs in sports: A bitter pill to swallow

I DO DRUGS. When my temperature rises to 38.6, I open this tablet called Biogesic. When my nose drips, Neozep slides down my throat and, when I cough, Robitussin is mixed in my system.

I do drugs. You do drugs. Everybody does drugs. Imagine a world without Rose Pharmacy? Hospitals without dextrose? Tempra or Bioflu unavailable? Without drugs, the life expectancy of the earth’s 6.6 billion inhabitants will crumble from the current 67 years old (77 for Americans), to what, 48 years old?

Drugs is good. But, like many things good, drugs can be bad. Take the case of “doping” or performance-enhancing drugs…

Remember Ben Johnson and the 1988 Olympics? His rivalry with Carl Lewis on the 100-meter stage was one of history’s most anticipated. Ben Johnson beat Lewis, won gold, broke the Olympic record, broke the world record with a 9.79 time and… broke the news that he injected steroids.

Remember Mark McGwire? He’s the Major League Baseball star who slugged 70 homeruns in 1998. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Every 9-year-old boy in America wanted to be like “Big Mac.” Well, guess what: Two years ago at a U.S. Congressional hearing, he said, “I’m not here to talk about the past…” His silence meant a guilty plea.

Remember Marion Jones, the winner of five medals at the 2000 Olympics? Tim Montgomery, the former 100-meter record holder? Justin Gatlin, the Athens Olympics champion who, exactly a year ago, was stripped of his world-record because he failed a lab test?

Remember Barry Bonds? Of course you know Barry Bonds. Any day this week, Bonds will break a record that the world thought would never be broken: the 755 career homeruns set by Hank Aaron in 1976. Imagine how long that record stood still: 31 years.

Today, Bonds has 754 homeruns—just one short. But, guess what: Though Americans are excited, they’re unhappy. According to a survey by ABC News and ESPN, 52% were rooting against Bonds breaking the record. Would you believe that! All because, though he’s never publicly admitted it, everybody except his dog knows that steroids swarms inside the 6-foot-1, 228-lb. body of Barry Bonds.

And now, the Tour de France.

Weeks back, I mentioned that when Lance Armstrong (who, himself, has been accused dozens of times as a drug cheat—but never, not once, though he’s the world’s most tested athlete, did he fail a drug test), I said that the Tour de France was renamed Tour de Lance. Now, I offer another meaning.

Tour de Farce.

Here’s why: Last year, days after Floyd Landis was crowned as Armstrong’s successor by winning “Le Tour,” drugs were found swimming in his urine. Back in 2004 during the Athens Olympics, Tyler Hamilton won the cycling gold medal. He pedaled proud. Smiled. But it was short-lived. Weeks later they found him guilty of blood doping.

Today, July 29, is the last day of the TDF. After 21 days, wow, what a roller-coaster ride: drugs has crawled, crept inside, infested and plagued the world’s most famous cycling race. Alexander Vinokourov is out. His Astana team is out. Cristian Moreni is out. His Cofidis team is out. Michael Rasmussen, who wore the yellow jersey and was virtually assured of winning, is out.

Who else is left? I know who’s left: The wrecked and poisoned reputation of the 105-year-old Tour de France. The mutilated and lacerated sport of cycling. The corrupted and contaminated name of the athletes.

But wait, here’s the oddest part. In drugs, there’s cycling, body-building, athletics, baseball, American football—all those sports where it’s a must to build muscle and endure pedaling 275 kms. But, would you believe, there’s also drugs in…. golf. Yes, golf. That game where you stand, gaze at the horizon, smell the flowers, swing at a white ball, pick up your tee, and stroll with a pretty umbrella girl beside.

Unbelievable. Drugs? Golf?

With his muscular physique, I hope the only drug Tiger Woods is accused of drinking is Tylenol.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. Well there goes my hope of having clean sports….

    Hey John! Sorry wasnt able to comment on your blog for the past 2 weeks since I was at school and was fixing up my pc and installing Ubuntu. I’m using Ubuntu now since my Windows has problems with Internet.

    Anyway, I think that if ever drugs were involved in golf, it would be one to make your eyes bionic. Heheh

  2. Hi Travin! Hehehe. Drugs in golf? Sounds crazy but they say it’s true. For these guys who don’t need more muscle or extra power in the legs, I don’t understand why they’d swallow those tablets. Thanks

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