Rest assured I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next week or so in front of the TV watching the remaining days of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin.
Regardless of how many more world records Usain Bolt breaks, how many Kenyan’s and Ethiopian’s dominate the longer distance events, or how many times Sally McLellan screams “oh my god” in her post-race interview, one thing is for sure ...
The Athletics World Championships won’t be marred with the same controversy that the recent FINA World Swimming Championships experienced ...
All athletes will be on a level playing field.
Look, I’m not naive enough to state that drugs in sport don’t exist. But, authorities are becoming tougher and more skilled. “Cheats” will find it harder to get away.
But, this isn’t a post about drugs in sport.
It is about FINA approving the use of the polyurethane bodysuits.
Although they have since been banned, their use in Rome ruined the history of swimming. And destroys the whole concept of sport and competition.
The suits are effectively “buoyancy vests”; designed to keep the swimmer on top of the water, giving them the advantage to use their “kick” to propel themself forward as opposed to using it to also stay afloat.
Those who use the suits are being assisted. The farcical number of world records broken in Rome confirms this.
This is unfair.
I am happy to go on the record and state that every swimmer using a suit was cheating. However, they are not to blame.
If the International Tennis Federation (world tennis governing body) said that when I play against Roger Federer I was allowed to serve from inside the service line and have the ball bounce twice at my end of the court, of course I would accept their ruling.
I want to win don’t I? I’m not breaking any rules—I have been allowed to do this.
But, the question is—is it in the best interests of the sport?
Should I beat Federer with these rules, am I a better player then he is?
“That’s just ludicrous” I hear you say.
And, you’re right.
The essence of sport is about equal competition. Not only with contemporaries but also between eras.
Sure, advancements in technology, sports science, training methods and the overall level of professionalism of athletes today will mean that they can run and swim faster, jump higher and longer, throw further and hit harder than what athletes could say 50 years ago.
However, whether it be uniform, playing equipment or otherwise, where there is something that so dramatically changes the playing field, it becomes detrimental to the sport.
In the name of sport, in the name of equal competition and, with respect to the history and tradition of the sport, I hope that the records swum in the suits are disallowed.