Cheaters Like Gatlin, Others Make Track A Modern Day Sodom

By Gregory Moore
Updated: August 24, 2006

SAN ANTONIO – I’m a frustrated track and field spectator. I’m not quite an enthusiast of the sport but I do watch. I like the excitement. I like the drama. Heck, I even like watching the gazelles just fly down the track. But I’m frustrated, folks.

I’m frustrated because it seems that there are so many African American track stars who are cheaters and it’s frustrating. It’s so frustrating that it reminds me of a place long ago that was destroyed because of their waywardness.

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it”?

“Far be it from you to do such a thing — to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?” If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” And this goes on and on but finally Abraham asks the following: “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” And the Lord answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” Of course Abraham could not find the saved that he was looking for and we know in that story that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. We know that Lot and his daughters were the only ones saved and that a group of people who did not play by the rules was destroyed.

Well, I’m kind of feeling like the Lord and Abraham right now with track and field. Right now I’m ready to throw track and field into the garbage disposal. I’m willing to prune my sports tree of the track and field branch and not worry about how lopsided it may look.

I am feeling this way because I’m disappointed in how track stars like Marian Jones, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin have let me down with their cheating. I’m feeling disheartened because I am assuming that out of maybe 100 track stars that are African American, half of them are cheaters and take performance enhancing drugs to make a living.

I’m beginning to feel that way because Europe, which has been a Black track star’s playpen, is nothing more than Sodom and Gomorrah for these athletes. So I’m ready to throw this baby out with the bath water.

Okay maybe I’m being a little harsh. I’m willing to give this a second chance. Marian may not be a cheater but she’s got cheating ways. Let’s face it. She married a cheater and dated a cheater but that still shouldn’t be a reason for me to throw her under the bus and believe that she is no better than Ben Johnson.

But who can come forth and say that they are not cheaters? There is so much evidence that points to so many world record holders as being the ones who need to juice up to get an edge. I mean Jones went and got the same lawyer that Floyd Landis has for his dope case and I for one have stopped watching cycling just because of Landis’ lies.

But even then, I’m willing to give this a second chance. If someone can point out to me that there are forty African American track stars out there who do not cheat, I’ll give track and field another chance.

Maybe that’s too big of a number but after seeing how there have been so many athletes blame everyone from the accountant to the masseuse for their positive dope tests, how can anyone expect a causal fan like me wanting to even to continue watching this sport?

How do I know that nobody is sitting around in a locker room, with an arm tied off like they are about to take a heroin hit and they are injecting themselves with EPO or some other designer steroid. After all, didn’t Kelli White testify that she was a steroid junkie during the BALCO scandal and the United States Anti Doping Agency banned her for two years; effectively ruining her career.

Maybe this is such a big deal that forty is a big number. Okay, look I’m willing to cut the number in half. If somebody can find me just twenty African American track and field stars who are not cheaters of any sort or dope heads, I’ll might be willing to consider the idea of continued viewing of track and field events.

I don’t think as a sports fan I’m asking too much from even this segment of the sports population. Let’s face the facts. Where else can you go in the world, get paid to run in a few heats, live a pretty good life and be adored in two parts of the world?

It’s just unfathomable to me that African Americans like Montgomery would take this kind of opportunity and squander it because he is a petty individual and is greedy. Well that greed has now caught up with him and he’s out of the sport. He’s facing serious federal bank charges and deserves to receive whatever punishment is merited for his involvement of doing something illegal.

He’s also heavily affiliated with the BALCO ordeal as well and has accused Jones of using steroids. Makes me wonder if he’s a doper too? If I had my druthers on this situation, I’d say unequivocally that Tim Montgomery used steroids and cheated in the track and field reign. And that’s just another reason why I’m thinking about quitting the viewing of this sport. There are just too many athletes who will cut others in their quest of trying to become the best.

But I am a forgiving person and I don’t want to throw everyone into the abyss of not watching a tremendous sport. So let me cut my request in half once again and ask that if someone can show me at least ten African American track stars who are clean, who compete without using any type of enhancers and who want to be honest in their quest for being the fastest athletes in the world, I’ll continue watching.

Well I’ve thought about again. My mind does flit back and forth on this topic. I just don’t see how I can watch this sport now that Gatlin has taken an eight-year suspension for testing positive. He was the brightest hope this country had it seemed in a sport where there hadn’t been any real dominance since Michael Johnson and a few others.

But Gatlin’s affiliation with the drug coach, Trevor Graham. Graham is as about as dirty as the underwear you find that hasn’t been washed in months. His name is as synonymous as BALCO and THG. Don’t make the correlation? He’s the whistle blower that supplied a syringe of the designer drug to the USADA and that’s how BALCO became the infamous steroid case in this country.

Graham has had several athletes show up with positive drug tests and be suspended. Those athletes include Michelle Collins, Jerome Young, twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, plus Dennis Mitchell have received doping bans. Add Gatlin to that list of banned athletes now.

In an August 2005 story that was done on Graham, there was a coach who felt that Graham should be banned from the sport for having so many athletes banned in the sport.

Veteran track coach Pat Connolly said in the USA Today piece that “Any coach who has had athletes banned needs to be banned, too. Coaches need to take responsibility. They’ll say they can’t know if their athlete is using drugs. I don’t care how dumb they want to play. They know.”

Now people may say that is sour grapes because Graham is successful at what he does but we are talking about elite African American track stars being banned by the USADA and their coach just happens to be one of the top African American track coaches in the sport. It doesn’t take Oliver Stone or somebody of that ilk to see that Graham is up to something wrong.

Not when you have a world sprinter like Gatlin all of a sudden stand up and take an eight-year ban. If that’s not a guilty plea for leniency I don’t know what is. And let’s also consider this point of contention now: Graham has been banned from the training compound in Colorado for the Olympic team.

Also I am now having my doubts about Gatlin’s sincerity that it was an honest mistake. Gatlin was banned once before for two years and got a reprieve but I don’t think anybody is willing to buy into this sob story again.

“We want to know how the drugs got there and see if it leads to other people and other convictions,” said its IAAF spokesman Nick Davies in a story that was printed in the British paper, The Guaridan. “We would accept eight years or even less in that case – but four years would be the minimum.”

And that is why I am so ready cut the ties of watching track and field. I am so ready turn my back on the whole lot of African American track stars because they seem to keep finding guys like Graham and buy into the lies he tells them. They follow through and so many have now lost promising careers.

And so I feel like the Lord as I watch this once grand landscape become a barren wasteland. But I want to really try and give the few African American athletes who may be doing the right thing a chance to win me back into viewing and supporting them. So I’m going to make my final plea.

I’m not going to ask for ten African American athletes. I’m not even going to ask for five. All I ask is that somebody show me just one top notch track star who is African American and has no ties to anyone who has been associated with Trevor Graham or anyone else implicated as a steroid dope pusher or user.

Just find me one clean African American track star and I’ll continue watching and forgive the rest. Can somebody just find me one such person in this sea of cheaters?