Suspension of Disbelief and Track and Field- Forum

Tim AndersonCorrespondent ISeptember 1, 2008

Suspension of Belief


In Hollywood, the audiences are asked sometimes to hold suspension of disbelief, a term referring to the ability to look at something unreal and believe it to be happening. All Science Fiction among other genres rely on the ability of the viewer to make believe to enjoy.Without it, Star Wars would just be ridiculous.

 The well documented fall of the several of the leading sprinters over the past 2 decades has read to be the end of the Olympics as a spectacle, crowds far to cynical to enjoy the performances for what they were. The trust in that what was being seen was a true and fair contest has been lost.

When Victor Conte was asked to outline his drug taking BALCO laboratory experiments last year, he noted that the IAAF had reduced the number of tests during the time it is widely accepted that athletes are more likely to use them. He equated this to being a fisherman and taking your rod out of the water when the fish were starting to bite.

There has been no word from the IAAF about this and why would they? The 3 strikes and you're out provides room for the athletes to progress the sport. Why 3 missed tests? As Michael Johnson said when referring to letting authorities know where you are for testing, " Its your job!". If they were serious why not 1 or 2?

The reason? IAAF not only need athletes, they need to have athletes breaking records, showing the progress of the sport into the future, satisfying sponsors and spectators alike.

This is the IAAF´s suspension of disbelief. Turn a little blind eye and we can all get what we pay for. Clean athletes breaking new territory.

Beijing introduced the world back into belief. 32 World records fell over the 2 weeks. There have been no calls for the samples to be tested again and we are perfectly happy to accept that this is possible despite the controversies that have raged before. If they are not caught, then they must be clean. This is the audience's suspension of disbelief.

The Jamaican Track and Field Association won more sprint medals at the games than anyone else. They are also known to have a national drug testing agency only in name, being well behind other leading sprint nations in rigorous in-house testing.

The redeeming performances of Usain Bolt were tempered by the passionate prayers of the track faithful, who want hold up his achievements as a sign that record breaking performances are not only possible from those under controlled doping but as well from naturally gifted athletes.

Some commentators even called for Bolt to retire now, a ludicrous proposition based on the fear that another devastating expose of its latest saviour would destroy faith in the sport for the next generation.

Suspension of disbelief allows guarantees the sport an audience and sponsors and the athletes a platform to break new territory and take the sport to new levels. In the end, if we believe what we see, then Track and Field will continue to electrify with performances like Bolt and if that takes a little suspension of disbelief then its a thrill worth sacrificing for.