For each paragraph, choose the most suitable heading from the list which follows. There is one extra heading you do not need to use.
STEROIDS AND ATHLETICS
A. Athletes are becoming dependent on drugs.
B. Even the most successful athletes may use drugs.
C. Athletes appear to accept the situation.
D. The issue is complicated.
E. There remains the problem of where to stop.
F. Rules were broken first in areas other than drugs.
G. A wide variety of drugs is used.
H. The sports authorities may turn a blind eye.
I. Experts suggest that the matter should be left to individual choice.
In 1988, the Tour de France suffered from an all-too-common sporting scandal, one which confirmed to some cynical outsiders that the demands made on professional cyclists force them to become pedalling chemistry sets. After the 17th stage, Pedro Delgado was found to have a drug called Probenecid in his sample. Probenecid helps the kidneys to clear uric acid from the system. It can also mask steroids. Delgado was saved the stigma of disqualification because the drug was not on the banned list of the International Cycling Union. Eight days after the end of the Tour, the drug was banned.
1988 was in fact the year when the steroid superstars finally came out into the open after years of gossip and suspicion. It was the year when Ben Johnson was stripped of his 100-metre title. This was not a Bulgarian weightlifter, but an athlete who commanded the attention of the world. It took another eight months before Johnson finally admitted, in front of a televised Canadian enquiry, that he had taken drugs in the full knowledge that it was against the rules.
The situation is not a simple one of individual athletes, helped by coaches and doctors, taking pills and injections. Rather, it is a very complex matter at the root of which lie nationalism and greed.
Professor Romano Tordelli was for 15 years responsible for Italian middle distance runners. In 1987, he claimed that famous athletes, such as Alberto Cova, former Olympic 10,000-metre champion, had been blood-doped. He went on to say that taking steroids had been under the control of the governing organization. An investigation did show that the Italian Federation had indeed purchased substantial quantities of anabolic steroids. These, it was said, were for experimental purposes. There was no official inquiry.
Why do we have these drug problems in sport? One reason may lie in the long period when the Olympic movement was supposed to exist for amateurs: the time of “shamateurism”. As far as money was concerned, sportsmen broke the rules day after day. It was but a short step to breaking the rules over drugs. Officials who walked about stadia with briefcases full of cash found no difficulty in bending the rules on drug-testing. It was all good for a good cause: good meetings for the sponsors and for television, and good for the sport. Anyway, everyone else was doing it.
A new attitude has arisen. One writer in the Observer newspaper, taking the example of Delgado,observed that none of the other 180 competitors protested at Delgado’s drug-taking. None of them refused to race with him.
The writer concludes: “The demands of the Tour make drugs essential and athletes should make up their own minds on whether or not to use them. Moreover, Dr Andrew Nicholson, writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, suggests that “the amount of unfairness introduced by drug-taking is no greater than that of runners using pacemakers or of a few athletes having access to advanced physiological and sports medicine laboratories while the majority do not.” Dr Nicholson also points out that the effects on health have been exaggerated, and side-effects are mostly negligible. The argument appears to be that if everyone takes drugs then the question of fairness has been settled.
But surely athletic achievement should depend on natural talent? Or is that naive? And where would the drug-taking stop? Should it move down into the schools? Should we create a chemical man? And if we did, would his achievements be human, or would they be those of a “sporting” Dr Frankenstein?