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  • Writer's picturelewisparnell

Just (don't) Do It - Cheating

Just don't do it.

I thought about stopping the blog there, with one play on words from the hook line of the biggest sports equipment and clothing manufacturer in the world, Nike. That would have probably been enough 10 years ago but things have changed recently. The world is a different place. The world today is infinitely more connected and more unforgiving than a decade ago.

Recent athlete doping scandals, seemingly reaching to the hearts of government where agents have been standing over destruction or falsification of doping records, are spoken about in terms of the ‘darkest days’ and it taking a ‘generation of clean athletes to get over it’. Did we ever think a whole country could be banned from the Rio Olympics?

I find myself asking this fundamental question – “is sport and the results I’m seeing, believable? …or should I just go home?”

Cheating by companies has the same effect. The manipulation of data on emissions has cost Volkswagen billions in additional costs and their integrity. Similarly, interest rate fixing has cost the reputations of banks, resulting in increased regulation.

There is of course your own integrity. You get respect for values.

As Alan Shearer said with reference to the Sam Allardyce situation – #disappointed and the world is laughing at us.

Usain Bolt has described his World Championships 2015 100m final victory over Justin Gatlin as the "hardest race" of his career. The Jamaican, 29, lived up to his billing as the saviour of athletics as he held off the challenge of the two-time drug cheat and clear favourite (Gatlin came into the final on a 28-race unbeaten run) to win in 9.79 seconds (by one hundredth of a second). In fact, three other athletes in the race were reported as having been tested positive for banned substances previously but, seemingly, were only interested in the ultimate ‘baddie’ versus the ultimate ‘goodie’.

Bolt tried to take the heat out of the situation by insisting he did not feel the pressure to win for his sport, only to concentrate on his own dreams. But that looked to be blown away when Gatlin recorded 9.77secs, while Bolt almost tripped out of the blocks and had to fight all the way to the line qualify fastest.

"After the semi-finals my coach [Glen Mills] said, 'You are thinking about it too much. There's too much on your mind, all you have to do is remember that you've done this a million times so just go out there and relax'. That's what I did."

It might be that this wasn’t such a battle between good and evil. As British sprinter Adam Gemili told BBC Radio 5 live:

"It was important but I don't think he saved athletics, it was just a battle of two sprinters and technically who's better.”

But this is what they say when a cheat gets beaten:

BBC Sport commentator Steve Cram: "Usain Bolt will walk away from tonight so proud of himself, and that's from someone who has so much to be proud of during his career. This may well have been his finest day. Bolt may have even saved his sport with his victory over Gatlin.”

Eight-time world champion Michael Johnson: "Usain Bolt was challenged here more than he has been at any time during his career. Put on top of that the burden of 'saving the sport' which was placed on his shoulders, it means that the pressure was there. I have to give him so much credit for that performance."

Former world hurdles champion Colin Jackson: “Victory goes to the right person for me."

Former world 100m bronze medallist Darren Campbell: "Talk about a hero - we've witnessed greatness."

Radio 5 live commentator Mike Costello: "He could dominate these championships and that would be very welcome for anybody with a semblance of feeling for this sport."

After failing to win, Justin Gatlin said:

"I stumbled in the last five metres, my arms were a little flailing," he said. "You have to come out and run and over the last five metres. Anyone who goes to the line to go against Usain has to be ready to go to work. In those five metres I let things get away from me. It cost me the race. I leaned a little too far forward and I got a little off balance.”

He concluded the interview:

“It wasn't my day.”

(but no one was listening).

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