Our own Chidi Imoh at a time cried out that American athletes who they compete against were on drugs but nobody listened to him. Some even labelled him a lazy athlete who was making excuses for his failure to win medals at great events like the Olympics or world championships. The USA, a super power in athletics were shocked when Ben Johnson beat their idol and world champion, Carl Lewis at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Johnson did not only beat Lewis but posted an incredible record of 9.79 secs in a race which was later described as the “dirtiest race in history”. An embittered Johnson who said after he was stripped of his medal and world record, that he could still have won the race without any drug, accused the sport authorities of conspiracy, claiming he was punished because he was not a favoured athlete. To prove that drug was a common thing among athletes and you can only get caught when the authorities want to do their work or when someone who is privy to your use of banned drugs squeals, it is reported that six of the eight finalists who ran the 100m race at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 with Ben Johnson either went on to fail drugs test or were implicated for the use of one. Big world sprinters from Linford Christie, Asafa Powell to Tyson Gay and even the erstwhile female phenomenon, Marion Jones have all failed drugs test at one time or the other. For Marion Jones, she was exposed by her former husband and coach, JC Hunter, himself a shot-putter. She painfully said “I want to apologise to you all (her fans) for all this (the scandal). I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways.” Other big time athletes like Lance Armstrong in cycling also failed drugs test while the greatest swimmer of all times, Michael Phelps was diagnosed to be on marijuana, also on the prohibited drugs list and sanctioned. Like they say, there are two categories of coaches, those who have been sacked and those waiting to be sacked. This can also apply to drug cheats, those who have been exposed and those waiting to be exposed. Even the great sprinter, Carl Lewis, who Ben Johnson insinuated was also on drugs, once failed a drug test in the US Olympic trials but he was exonerated by the authorities under the term ‘inadvertent usage’’, whatever that means. Athletics buffs say that some athletes who could have also been on drugs quit before the searchlight is beamed on them. On this list include the fashionable Florence Griffith Joyner who posted incredible times in the 100m (10.54secs) and 200m(21.33secs) also at the same Sydney Olympics where Ben Johnson was caught. Another is Michael Johnson who still has the world and Olympic records (43.49secs) in the 400m posted at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The 200m record was broken by Usain Bolt 12 years after it was set. Johnson did not stay too long on the tracks after those incredible feats. It was not a surprise then when Maria Sharapova came out to announce by herself that she failed a drug test, however, stressing that she has been using the same drug for long before it was included on the banned list without her knowledge. For a tennis player of her repute, that excuse appears too lame and she must face the reality of being a drug cheat. When you put Sharapova’s case side by side the revelations of the drug scandal from her country which has foreclosed their athletes’ participation at the 2016 Rio Olympics, you can adduce that the drug issue has always been there but the athletes, their officials and the authorities of the various sports connive to dope the the athletes and conceal same. Back in Africa, even the feats recorded by Kenyan has been tainted by the revelation that most of their athletes also use drugs. From the Americas to Europe, Asia and Oceania, it is the same story, drugs, drugs and drugs. A list of athletes and the drugs under the prohibitive list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are numerous. Except something drastic is done to stem the tide, we will continue to have tainted champions waiting to be exposed.
Adieu Alapa In five days, the remains of Rev William Omosigho Alapa, aged 73 who was called to glory on November 24, 2015 would be interred in his home-town Ekpon in Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State. He was many things to many people, community leader, man of vision, bridge builder, motivator and mentor. Whatever I am today, this great man, worthy brother in-law, contributed greatly to making it possible. Apart from his words of advice to me as a young undergraduate in the 1980s, he helped to boost my spiritual life by taking me to Assemblies of God Church. Uncle Willy, as we fondly called him, you ran a good race here on earth. Take a deserved rest in the bosom of the Lord till we meet to part no more.