The high costs of waging drug war in international sports
Randy Harvey is reporting from his 13th Olympic Games. He has covered every Summer Olympics since 1976 and every Winter Olympics since 1988. He joined The Sun as the assistant managing editor for sports in April and has previously worked for the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Daily News and Los Angeles Times.
- WBAL-TV's Noel Tucker blogs from Olympics
U.S. Olympic Committee officials were embarrassed, largely because they seemed to know little more about steroids than I did.
That was the Fort Sumter of international sports, the opening salvo in the drug war.
More than two decades later, it's still being fought. For the first time, I can say with some authority that the drug testers are winning.
Nineteen athletes have been caught in the drug web here, either because of failed tests or a failure to report for tests, and there is little doubt there will be more before the Olympics end on Sunday.
But the athletes who want to cheat will not stay down for long. Dr. Don Catlin, the head of the Los Angeles laboratory where the latest designer steroid was detected, said he's sure that there are others out there.
Why do athletes persist on taking the drugs?
The answer is simple. They believe the rewards for winning are greater than the risks that they will be caught.
The cost for both sides, however, has been high.
The cheaters have all but destroyed the sport of track and field. It should be the purest sport, the only distinction between winning and losing being who runs fastest, jumps longer or higher or throws farther. Now, it's impossible to watch a great performance without wondering. Officials should wait three days before awarding medals. That would give time for the results of the drug tests to come back.
Yes, I'm angry about this. Sad, too.
August 22, 2004 9:01 AM ET
My big, fat Greek wish list
1. I wish I spoke Greek. Or at least read it. I knew I should have joined a fraternity in college.
2. I wish Pete Sampras had agreed to play for the Greek tennis team.
3. I wish I didn't have to work today. Isn't "Never on Sunday" a Greek concept?
4. I wish sportswriters in Athens for the Olympics would quit making big, fat Greek jokes.
5. I wish my hotel room had a shower curtain.