Recently I watched the 30 for 30 ESPN special titled 9.79. This was a documentary of the events of the 1988 summer Olympics when Ben Johnson of Canada broke the world record in the 100 meter race. I thought it was done brilliantly and really showed multiple views from many different athletes. The thing that it did for me was open my eyes to Ben Johnson’s views on the whole situation and why.I have always been a very big supporter for multiple drug tests and a zero tolerance on the athletes that try and achieve any illegal help from any type of drug and I still am to this day. I just have more of an understanding of why the athletes make that choice. Obviously I always knew why, but I didn’t understand why in a different sense. Why soil your name if caught? Why tarnish the sport of track and field? Why put your body at susceptible risk of adverse side effects? I then watched 9.79 and for some reason something clicked. The emotion in Ben’s voice, the emotion in his face, I understood the “why” to all these questions.
Athletes have more pressure than most people could ever imagine. Track and field takes that pressure to another level. As an athlete in track and field the goal is the Olympics, which only happens every 4 years, so the window is miniscule. People never see how hard the training is, what athletes go through, injuries, you name it athletes are going through it. Now can you handle doing everything in your power to achieve your goal that you have wanted your entire life and still can’t get to that point? This is where some athlete’s breakdown and give in to temptation of performance enhancing drugs.I will never condone an athlete using any performance enhancement drug, but when an athlete does it, I can now say the pressure to win got the best of them and I understand why they made that choice. Winning is everything for an athlete, some just handle not winning better than others.
What are your thoughts?