Apparently, I’m supposed to be shocked by doping. This weekend, the Sunday Times published files from the International Association of Athletics Federations, suggesting that hundreds of athletes had been awarded medals at top events, despite receiving suspicious blood test results. It seems that if you’re groomed from childhood in an ultra-competitive, winner-takes-all fight for glory, you’ll stop at nothing to get an edge over your fellows. I, for one, am gobsmacked.
Who are we kidding when we try to crack down? Athletes, of course, push their bodies to the limit all the time. Blood doping, specifically, is banned because unlike elite gymnastics, muscle-sports or NFL training (which merely bestow distorted skeletons, post-retirement obesity and lifelong brain damage), techniques to increase the levels of haemoglobin in the blood are thought to also increase risks for stroke or heart attack (though, as Haroon Siddique points out, it’s hard to be sure whether anyone has actually died amid of this particular moral panic).