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- The pseudo-zealots. I have a problem with zealots in general but I’m not a hypocrite: I am a zealot myself when it comes to certain values I will never negotiate. So, in spite of totally disagreeing with them, I have some level of respect for people who consider having sex before marriage a sin, and will not do it; who believe in the return to Nature and communal property and go live in the wild; who believe killing animals is unacceptable, and will submit to vegetarian diets even knowing it will harm them. But I despise those who preach something and do the opposite. And this is what I most saw in the sports: prominent athletes and ex-athletes turned bureaucrats that rage against those “evil drugs”, treat those who fail drug tests as criminals, yet are users and prescribers themselves. I’ve seen dozens. I thought one of them had developed some type of serious psychiatric personality disorder: he considered the use of steroids outrageous, spoke and wrote copiously about it. I almost believed him: it was many years ago and I wasn’t that good in spotting side effects. One day, in a fit of euphoria, he showed his private drug stock to the most naïve friend we had in common. The guy had drugs the other had never heard about. Eventually he failed a test: I knew it would happen because he was not among the “inner sanctum” anymore. The other loudest opponent of steroids I ever knew failed an international test for using dianabol. I understand cheating because the testing system is oppressive, dictatorial and enforced upon the athletes. But I would expect athletes who need to get tested and use banned substances to at least have the decency to remain silent about the issue.
- The “I didn’t do it” people. I am an adult and I have a kid. I remember when they were doing something they were not supposed to and an adult unexpectedly showed up, a couple of them would immediately claim “I didn’t do it!”. I smiled and asked: “do what?” See, I had no idea what they were doing. But children are sometimes naïve (at other times they are ten times smarter than we are). They give themselves away easily. About one year ago I was resting from my tasks as meet organizer, talking to some friends. This lifter joined us, looked at me and said: “I never used steroids”. Ok, that was fast. It was the first time I saw that girl, our organization is not tested and I have no interest in what people use. Where did that come from? Months later she kept updating us on news about her steroid cycles.
- The outsiders who point fingers and scream bloody murder. I think these people annoy me because it is too time-consuming to actually engage in a debate and crush them. You need to explain everything, starting with what is performance, what motivates athletes, what equipment does and epistemological aspects of each claim. I do have a problem with outsiders who stick their nose where they do not belong. Outsiders who want to have an opinion on where public research money should be invested, having zero knowledge about the research subject or about science and technology policy. Yes, there is and must be interaction between insiders and outsiders in all esoteric endeavors, especially when there is public money involved: science, sports and the arts. But there are channels for that and specificities must be respected. A doctor or a lawyer who claim to have more rights over an opinion on PED use than a well informed athlete (frequently someone who majored in the life sciences himself) are a disgrace to medicine and the law.
- The bureaucrats. These are the worst, by far. Many of them were never athletes and have no first hand experience in the sports. Others (some say they are the worst type, ethically speaking) have been mediocre athletes and became bureaucrats. In the sports governance system established through the modern Olympian model, they are the dictators of the sports “polis”. They make the decisions regardless of the athletes’ opinions or feelings. The many drug testing scandals throughout modern sports history show this class of people to be the ones who actually profit from the system. They decide what to be included or not in the list of banned substances, a process that involves a lot of “negotiation” with pharmaceutical industries, they overrule Constitutional rights and it is members of this class that are known to sell negative doping results, for very high prices. Positive doping results have been known to be a blackmail strategy to enforce decisions on athletes for a long time. In professional sports, this has been the rule, rather than the exception.