Time for Zero Tolerance

Tyson Gay returned from a drugs ban last week when he second finished to Justin Gatlin.

Tyson Gay returned from a drugs ban last week when he second finished to Justin Gatlin.

Until such time as all sports federations adopt a zero tolerance policy to drugs cheats and implement it fully then the cynical and sceptical view of many fans towards some sporting events will continue.

Last Thursday, on a World Cup free evening, I enjoyed coverage of the Diamond League from Lausanne. However there was no pleasure whatsoever in watching the men’s 100m final as all podium places were filled by athletes who have served drug bans.

Tyson Gay, returning after his one year ban lost to Justin Gatlin who served a four year drugs ban from 2006.

Another American Mike Rodgers, who was banned for nine months in 2011 for a failed drugs test, finished third.

Thursday’s race was Gay’s first since he tested positive for an anabolic steroid last year. His two-year suspension was reduced by a year after he “co-operated” with the US Anti-Doping Agency and “accepted responsibility” for his decisions.

So a pat on the head then and a “be a good boy and don’t do it again” approach seems to have done the trick and Gay is now free to try and rebuild his career.

However, his reputation and that of Gatlin and any other athlete banned for doping is forever tainted and until such time as a lifetime ban for drugs offences is imposed I expect the practise will continue.

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