The Dark Side of Track Part 1- The 90% Phenomenon


The news of Usain Bolt’s recent 100m world record has spurred quite a bit of heated debate on the forum over the use of drugs in our sport. In the past I’ve gotten involved in these debates quite a bit…passionately protesting that not EVERYONE was on drugs. With the ongoing BALCO fallout and the steady stream of athletes implicated in its wake, one could easily assume that everyone at the elite level of the sport is on drugs. I still don’t think this is the case, however, I don’t want to turn it in to a debate of how many people are on or not on. Rather, I thought I’d make a semi-rambling, kinda randomized cluster of my most recent thoughts on the matter. I’ll post them individually since my ADD line of thinking could make these things go all over the place. Here we go.

90% of the people being busted in the U.S. are coming from 2-3 training camps. Trevor Graham is the most obvious offender of recent memory, easily claiming the crown for most drug busts of any coach. He easily eclipses the biggest scapegoat / pariah of yesteryear, Charlie Francis, as the coach with the most doped athletes. He’s not alone however, as other prominent camps have produced almost as many busts in the past couple years. This phenomenon (90% of busts from 1% of coaches) brings up a couple questions:

    Are these athletes getting busted because these coaches are the biggest drug peddlers?
    Are these athletes getting busted because there coaches are sloppy about hiding their drug use?
    Are more of these athletes getting busted because they go with a coach who is very good, and in turn makes them very good, which in turn opens them up to more testing and public scrutiny?
    Are there any clean athletes in these camps or should we / could we just assume guilty by association given their past history?
    Do the top athletes flock to these coaches knowing that they can get the best drugs with these coaches or because they think they are actually the best coaches?
    As an extension of the previous question, are these coaches actually good coaches or are their pharmacological practices covering up what would otherwise be fatal flaws in their program design?
Before anyone points it out, I’m well aware that many of the busts of the aforementioned coaches were not true busts in the classic sense of the word and that they were really only outed due to an extraordinary series of events. Regardless of this, I think the points and questions above are still valid. Post thoughts to the forum.
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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


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Mike Young
Mike Young