There’s a lot of talk about banning Dwain Chambers at European meets, or even banning him completely from Track and Field for writing the book Race Against Me: My Story.
This post is not about whether he was right or wrong in taking steroids and PEDs. I’ll leave that opinion up to you, the readers.
What I do want to point out is the parallelism between Elite sports and earning an income.
When it comes to employment, I believe in 2 things:
1) At-will employment. You can quit anytime, and you can be terminated anytime. As long as it’s not illegal.
2) Every person has a right to make a living. There’s no law preventing you from working for the competition. Just like recently laid-off Tom Borish of Trackshark.com (of the Wasserman Media Group). He can start-up another venture of the same quality and topic.
This brings me to the topic of collusion.
Remember MLB (Major League Baseball) in the late 1980’s? Owners conspired not to sign free agents and their respective spiraling salaries. (Today, those salaries look really ridiculous) I remember in 1986 Andre Dawson took a pay cut from the Montreal Expos for a one year, $500,000 contract to sign with the Chicago Cubs. The MLBPA filed a grievance and eventually won.
Today, you can assume the baseball owners are colluding to prevent Barry Bonds from getting a contract. Nobody wants him around, whether he knowingly took steroids or didn’t. He didn’t play in 2008 and you can bet he won’t be playing in 2009.
With Dwain Chambers, race promoters are colluding to prevent him from running in meets.
Dwain is basically saying, “Test me, I’m clean. And if I win any money, I will repay my past earnings back to the IAAF”.
Unfortunately, there is no union representing the athletes. It’s every man for himself. Just ask Butch Reynolds.
Avoiding Unnecessary Publicity
By not allowing him to run can also mean race promoters are trying to have a clean image. It’s also avoiding the situation, like an ostrich’s head in the sand. Having him in the line-up will certainly create more publicity, but the wrong kind.
Let me ask you this: Who came 2nd and 3rd at the 2009 60 meter indoor European Championships?
Lets face it. Dwain is creating more headlines than the other athletes. That’s not going over very well with other athletes or race promoters. There is one exception: Usain Bolt. At $250K USD appearance fee, I don’t think he really cares who the other 7 other athletes are.
This story reminds me of Ben Johnson’s return to Athletics after Seoul. There was a sense of animosity around by other athletes, but the crowd had the “forgive and forget” rule for the fallen hero of ’88.
Sadly, he tested positive a second time in February 1993 on a test that no longer exists (the testosterone to epitestosterone ratio… the same test that did in Mary Decker Slaney). Whether or not that was a sabotage, as he was tested 3 days in a row, on 3 consecutive meets remains a mystery. The positive test occurred in the 2nd test. He was banned for life by the IAAF.
Will the Book Sell?
I can guarantee you the book will sell. The people who buy the book will use the knowledge and abuse it.
In the post 1988 Seoul Olympics Dubin inquiry, weightlifters & body builders (and even track athletes?) were taking down notes during the inquiry, which was televised nationally on Canadian TV. Even when athletes like Angela Issajenko was doing her book tour, people in the audience were writing down drugs, dosages and clearance times when she gave detailed examples of her drug history.
Human nature has created people who will do anything, at any cost, in order to win. Because winning brings on more meaning than a ribbon or a medal, such as money and fame.
Which brings me back to the original topic about making money. In the event Dwain does get banned from competing, you can rest assure that he will make money from his book. Or at least his publishers.