Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK
Sport, the focus of so many dreams, hopes and ambitions is a part of life where we were encouraged to believe that ability, dedication and commitment would triumph over all adversity. Who hasn’t imagined a winning performance, making that critical score or crossing the finish line to the applause of the crowd: Daydreams of the young and not so young.
We could dismiss the occasional cheat, vilify the greed of a professional team, criticise the incompetence of a governing body but the systematic, structured and organised doping, bribery and cover up associated with recent scandals in athletics is staggering. First it was the Kenyans who betrayed our beliefs. Their distance runners, world leaders and role models, whose easy loping style, lightness of foot, and incredible pace suggested an awesome natural ability, winning almost all the major city marathons. Allegations of doping, while persuasive, seemed to suggest small scale, ad hoc involvement. Until the recent story of doping by Russian athletes, that is. This evolving story is much more dramatic than what we've come to expect as the norm; doping in Russian athletics is widespread, structured and systematic. Every day reveals another layer. And doctors were complicit. ...continue reading