Athletics and many other sports are consistently in the limelight for doping, with many sports governing bodies seeking lifetime bans for athletes who have doped. Whilst doping in sport is frequently in the news, I have never seen the emotional reaction that we all witnessed this weekend (exception maybe being regarding Lance Armstrong).
Having a twice banned athlete compete and successfully beat Usain Bolt, one of the worlds most loved athletes, was tough to watch. I wasn’t happy (devastated would be a better description), the crowd wasn’t happy and I doubt that Seb Coe, who had to put the gold medal around Gatlin’s neck was either.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Opening evening of the World Championships in London, getting to see Bolt in the 100m heats and Mo Farah storm to victory in the 10000m. Truly amazing night however I didn't enjoy the booing of Gatlin. I thought it was un-sportsmanlike of the crowd to boo and shout “drugs cheat” when athletes were on the blocks, but then again it’s not exactly sportsmanlike to have served two banned sentences in sport (accidental or not). However, with the IAAF allowing him to run, Gatlin had a right to be there. It just happened that Gatlin beat the guy we all desperately wanted to win. If Gatlin hadn’t beaten Bolt, I imagine the world's reaction would have been very different.
What the event did make me think is; whilst there are so many performance enhancing drugs in sport, every athlete will be doing everything they can to grasp those hundredths of a second to get that gold medal; be it nutritionally, mentally, technically or down to the technology of their equipment. In swimming, the costumes were banned because they were enhancing performance too much. Would normal supplements (currently not on the WADA banned list) ever become banned? The likes of caffeine, BCAA, consuming carbohydrates during exercise – all standard supplementation techniques used by athletes and recreational sportspeople to enhance their performance one way or another. I don't think they ever will, but having an advantage over your opponents isn't only caused by drug use - which we seem to forget.