SHIN SPLINTS REDUX: May the Best Meds Win

This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.

Doug Logan was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010.  He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999.  To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview.

This is his 4th article.  Click here for his entire series.

SHIN SPLINTS REDUX

May the Best Meds Win

During the Vietnam War, George Aiken, the U.S. Senator from Vermont, allegedly told President Lyndon Baines Johnson that he should just declare victory and bring the troops home. Although what he really said was far more nuanced, this simple and elegant solution is frequently heralded as an example of what should be done in the midst of an unwinnable quagmire.

Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera 2

The battle against the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs [PEDs] in sports has reached a similar enigmatic juncture. The Miami based Bosch scandal threatens to rend the very fabric of Major League Baseball once again. Some 20-30 active players, including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera, are rumored to be facing up to 100 game suspensions. No one can name the last Tour de France drug-free victor. Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL last season suspended over 40 players for four games, the maximum penalty for first-time drug abuse. In golf, Tiger Woods used a Canadian doctor and his magic potions to assist his healing from leg injuries. It is not a well kept secret that some pros with the putting “yips” resort to beta blockers to calm their hearts. Kobe Bryant, the same Alex Rodriguez, and other elite athletes recovering from surgery have taken clandestine trips to a German clinic for “innovative treatments”. In track, at the World Championships in Moscow this summer, we are going to see several rehabilitated transgressors of PED protocols vie for a place on the podium. In distance running, the use of inhalers to increase lung capacity has become ubiquitous.

During my two year tenure as CEO of USA Track & Field, one of my priorities was to vigorously promote drug-free competition. I used tough language to criticize drug cheating, took on the supplement industry for not doing enough to eliminate tainted products, and I created a pathway for rehabilitation that required public statements of remorse and community service. Despite my efforts and those of other well-meaning sports executives, we were fighting a losing rear-guard action against the violators. The “dirty” laboratories in China, the Caribbean, and other places around the globe have always been months and years ahead of the testers in the development of new drugs and masking agents. Sports fans, in poll after poll, don’t really seem to care if their heroes are users. And, athletes, themselves, will not publicly or privately criticize or call out their peers and colleagues who are using, despite adverse competitive consequences. In short, this is a war without the possibility of victory.

There are additional contemporary factors that make our PED policies appear to be hypocritical. Athletes are the beneficiaries of many technological innovations that enhance performance. If you can afford to train at altitude, or have access to a hyperbaric chamber, your performance in distance running will improve. If you have a great coach, have the benefit of stipends to allow focus on training, gain admission at an elite training complex, are assisted by nutritionists, physios and sports psychologists; all will give you a leg up over your opponent. The quality of your orthopedic care and rehabilitative resources will enhance performance. Finally, there is an ominous development on the horizon, prophylactic surgery, which has the possibility of revolutionizing the industry. About a year ago in Baltimore, I had a conversation with Dr. James Andrews, the guru of sports surgery. Jim told me an amazing story about the problems he was having with mothers of 10 and 11 year old softball pitchers. He said he was being solicited by these moms to perform surgery on the healthy arms of their daughters to reinforce tendons and ligaments to enable their daughters to stress their arms without fear of injury. Think of the havoc these techniques will bring to sports that place a premium on strong joints. The bionic athlete lurks around the corner.

We now live in a society where there are medical solutions to just about any physical problem. Earlier this year I was plagued with inflammation of my sciatic nerves. My doctor ultimately prescribed a regimen of prednisolone, a synthetic glucocorticoid. On two other occasions in the past 20 years I was prescribed steroids as an aid for healing. In all instances the meds accelerated my recovery from injury. These protocols are common in civilian life. Ironically, as I peck away on this keyboard, there just appeared on my television a 60 second advertising spot for that greatest performance enhancer of them all, Viagra. Go figure!

Regrettably, I now conclude we should give up this fight and bring the troops home. Leave the regulation of drugs to governments and their law enforcement auspices. Dismantle the drug constabulary, the “ah dahs” of this world; USADA [US Anti Doping Agency], WADA [World Anti Doping Agency], and all the others. Have those able investigators and lawyers turn their attention to the apprehension of terrorists, pedophiles, tax evaders and secret leakers. If an athlete breaks the law, throw the book at him or her and fine them or throw them in jail. If not, let everyone compete and use their best judgment as to what is, or is not, good for them. Stop treating athletes like children or even animals. Stop requiring them to be available, day or night, 24/7, to pee in a cup or give a sample of blood. Most importantly, let’s stop making a morality play out of the issue. We must stop assuming that athletic success is accompanied by doping and lying and cheating. Elect Barry Bonds to the Hall of Fame for his on-field accomplishments and let judgment of his conduct be between him and his maker. Let’s take this piece of drama out of sports and concentrate on the final score, the bar, the tape and the stopwatch.

To those whom I excoriated for drug use while I was in a position of authority I can only say I did my duty to defend and protect the sport to the best of my ability. I have changed my views based on my re-examination of all the factors involved. I have no regrets and offer no excuses. My love for all sports has not changed and I remain fully engaged as a fan of all athletic competition and athletes. And, may the best man or woman win.

  • I am sorry, but you are not even in the ballpark or on the track in your briefing on PED’s. First all, long term use and the potential future side effects on the body is “somewhat” unknown. There is some evidence that some athletes have had heart disease and developed cancers from PED’s. Longer studies are needed to support these findings.
    Grade school through high school students idolize athletes as role models. Elite athletes that are allowed to use PED’s, that will filter down to younger athletes. Do you want a 12 year old wanna be future pro start using PED’s at that age? I don’t think so.
    If an athlete cannot use his natual ability to perform at a high level in any sport and has to resort to using PED’s, then this is a sad commentary on sports and the future of sports in the world.

  • #Wrong. Could not disagree more. Logan missing the point. Not addressing trickle down effects, athlete health and the importance of ethos to culture. I’m sorry, but his commentary is asinine.

  • I also couldn’t disagree more. Here we continue to fight the good fight (unlike the Vietnam was which was infinitely more horrible than an unwinnable quagmire!).

  • I have to agree with Logan. I don’t like that I do, but I do. It is logical and practical. The alternative, presently in failing use, is not.

    We can decide, emotionally, to remain on the present unsuccessful course, or behave logically and make a change.

  • Mr. Logan has chosen to abdicate defending the most important contribution that a sport has to offer–its ethos. Yes, it is challenging to enforce rules, but that does not mean we stop trying. The impact on the lives of the small cadre of elite athletes is not so consequential, perhaps, but for every professional athlete there are hundreds of young people aspiring to reach that level. It is VITAL that we support a culture in sport that encourages healthy choices for young people. If we stop trying to protect the kids, the ethos of athletics will no longer be a force for good in our culture. Mr. Logan–shame on you. Shame.

  • I didn’t know it was possible to lose more respect for this man after his USATF debacle, but I definitely just did.

    If these are your views, go lay down under a nice quiet tree and shut up. Leave sports, athletics, the development of healthy youth, and encouragement of fair competition to those of us who still care.

  • Doug has lost his ever loving mind. I won’t rehash the salient points others have noted about the need to inculcate healthy behavior and values in young adults. Obviously the events that led to end of Doug’s tenure at USATF has seriously warped his thinking and this looks like a crude attempt on his part to stir the pot. Doug, let it go already and move on !

  • I was disappointed in this article. From reading the others in this series Mr. Logan comes off as an intelligent man and a good writer. Here, however, it comes off as a bit of a rant.

    First, it is striking to me that someone from the top of USATF would blame what amounts to “foreigners” for drug problems: “The “dirty” laboratories in China, the Caribbean, and other places around the globe have always been months and years ahead of the testers in the development of new drugs and masking agents. ” Does Mr. Logan really believe that American labs are clean? What about BALCO? This implicit denial of his own responsibility as an American official for drugs in sport is alarming (I doubt many would disagree that the USA and former USSR/East Germany have been the biggest drug-abusing nations over the past 100 years).

    Last, it’s confusing that he takes a political angle and lumps “secret leakers” in with terrorists, pedophiles, and tax evaders. Regardless of his own personal political views “secret leakers” may be what we need for clean(er) sport. If the labs are so advanced, don’t we need people on the inside to reveal their products?

  • The “dirty” laboratories in China, the Caribbean, and other places around the globe have always been months and years ahead of the testers in the development of new drugs and masking agents****This is the first time I am hearing about laboratories in the Caribbean. I do not know where he got his information from.

  • Doug Logan decided to start writing on this website to get people talking. Doug is welcome to his opinion. However, my belief is we need to fight PEDs at all costs. Honestly, one of my biggest problems in this whole discussion is how PEDs take away from truely gifted and hardworking athletes. I want to echo the concern others have raised about the message it sends to young people. In my gym the kids know if they are caught doing PEDs they are out of my program. I want the results that happen in my program come from a good diet, smart lifting, and running fast.

    I do find it very odd the weird divergent path we are in this country. On one hand we have NFL football players worrying about head injuries and the long term effects of repeated blows to the head. But, no one will truely address the elephant in the room of rampant PED abuse. Junior Seau took his life and many people pointed to concussions. Sean Meriman who was busted for PEDs almost killed himself on Drug overdose. The message sent is extremely powerful. I know a number of people who visit this site might have even watched a movie called bigger, faster, and stronger. The director of the movie almost makes it seem as if PEDs are ok. Even though a short time later his brother died after. We live in a world were people say smoking is terrible (removing it from almost every public venue) but smoking dope is ok(everyday that goes by it is decriminalized more). Think about how odd that is!? Anything that makes a week old cheese sandwich look delicious and Jonas Brothers sounds good in the long run can’t be good for you.

    Truth is no one wants to step up and strart hammering these fools. The sport leagues dont want to really do anything about it because its about money and having athletes act almost like gladiators. In some respects creating a veil of testing to keep the do gooders at bay while the remaining injectible freaks can still take their rocket fuel and make that money.

    I long time ago when I was a freshman in college I was at a party and talked to a guy who once was a strength coach for the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe. That night he broke my heart telling me that almost everyone in the league was on PEDs except for a few freaks like Randy Moss were on something. I have to tell you I have more respect for Randy Moss ever since that night.

    The thing that makes me the most angry is I believe you can break most world records without PEDs. Are they going to be harder to achieve? Yes. Do you need some genetic gifts? Yes. Do you need a good coach? Yes. Do you have to obey the 10,000 hour rule? Probobly. Do you have to be lucky? Yes.

    But these are all the reasons why world records are supposed to be special.

  • Unfortunately Doug, guys like Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong are immoral cheats. They did anything it took to win. That’s why we call it ‘cheating’. In pro sports, the anti-doping organizations are essential to provide fair competition and to protect clean athletes, who want to compete without drugs. Otherwise, it’s best just to get rid of sports and promote amateurism. Amateurism works, because no one takes amateur athletics seriously… I think this would have been a better way of making your point. No wonder USATF canned you!

  • What’s wrong with being like “Arm”strong? ~ clueless USATF ex-CEO
    ***
    “About a year ago in Baltimore, I had a conversation with Dr. James Andrews, the guru of sports surgery. Jim told me an amazing story about the problems he was having with mothers of 10 and 11 year old softball pitchers. He said he was being solicited by these moms to perform surgery on the healthy arms of their daughters to reinforce tendons and ligaments to enable their daughters to stress their arms without fear of injury.”

  • “He took a PED to recovery from a injury he got trying to make a living and entertain us.”

    I agree with this article. What most non pro athletes fail to realize is that this is how they earn a living. The fans demand performance. THey dont want to see average times at the Olympics, tender hits on the football field, slow breaks on the bbal court or fly balls. ONce fans stop demanding this and money is not the driving factor then we may see downturn in PED use. (this will never happen!) Fans are dilusional. “He cheated to entertain use.

    We waste so much time and money chasing sport ped users. I dont see them chasing cops or the military for PED use. Like doug said go after murderess, pedophiles, rapists and thieves.

    Athletes will never stop and always stay ahead of the curve. So why keep chasing them? MAybe they should have two leagues. One were anything goes and one were everything is all natural. Which one to do yall think will have the most fans…..?

    Also why not ban all supplements. Creatin and protein enhance performance. So does caffeine. Ban em all.

    Joe smo takes modafinil to study for a test and gets an A. DId he just cheat on the test? Americans drink coffee for energy. Are they cheating

  • “When my times get good enough, my coach will send me to the West Coast to see ‘The Chemist’.” I didn’t understand what my friend was saying years ago, but the Victor Conte scandal made it clear later. It’s hard to say how many people have taken or will take a similar path, but I too am frustrated by the ongoing cat and mouse games in track and field. Ideally, we could have two categories and revel in how well people perform with and without PEDs; those who wish to push the limits and ignore the potential health risks could be celebrated without bringing down the accomplishments of those not using PEDs. American football, martial arts, rugby, and hockey players gladly take on the health risks associated for the glory/passion that their sports offer – why not let the track dopers do the same? It will probably lead back to the same problem (PED users attempting to race non-PED athletes), but right now we’re left to assume everyone is using when hopefully that isn’t true.

  • Fastest way to kill interest in sports is to permit performance enhancing drugs. Drug use has greatly damaged interest in track and field. It has, likewise, reduced respect and admiration for athletics in general. What parent would want to encourage their child to enter into a world of doping either as a participant or a spectator? Dopers are cheaters, plain and simple. All the rationalizations in the world won’t change that fact.

    • @ Bruce
      I agree with your sentiment “Fastest way to kill interest in sports is to permit performance enhancing drugs” to an extent. Providing the example regarding the use of drugs in track and field, however, is not a strong example. Very few track & field athletes use PEDs as compared to professional athletes, yet, the interest in the “major” sports continuous to grow. I do think the interest in baseball, for example, as declined in part due to the many users/abusers of PEDs. This is a much stonger claim.

  • […] Would eliminating the ban on PEDs change the sport of track & field? The record books would be rewritten, but the essence of the sport, beating your competitors when going from point A to point B is still intact. The sport would be unchanged. This is the Doug Logan argument, “Let’s take this piece of drama out of sports and concentrate on the final score, the bar, the ….” […]

  • So, to understand this correctly, we have to back of, and take PED’s as a result of the evolution of sport? That there’s no stopping the dopers and cheaters?

    Well, how about we just lay off the whole justice system. There’s no point in fighting crime, because no matter what we do, there will never be less crime!!!

  • In lieu of Baseballs, Footballs, TDF , Track and Field to name a few. Where would the sports be with out the Out of the BOX PERFORMANCES. The country who has the best in PED’s when the Gold, Silver 2nd best, 3rd best Bronze. All other countries, bring in the athlete’s from other countries where you seem to fail. Kenyan move to Denmark, so on and so forth…