Every time a match-fixing scandal breaks, the most common solution to the problem seems to be to make betting legal. When the ball-tampering issue was at it's peak in cricket, former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan said it should be allowed. When Lance Armstrong finally said sorry to the world for doping, he said that everybody was doing it at that time — not just him.
Now, sprinting stars Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson have all tested positive for banned substances. The playing field is never level — which brought us to ask Olympian of the Century Carl Lewis an extremely tough question — should the rules on doping in athletics be relaxed?
"The people backing this (solution) are not athletes. It's great to sit on your couch and say 'let's just make it even' but you know what — how about we go to our job — to your job wherever it is and let people cheat at your job. So you're the smart and innovative guy but the one next to you can cheat and beat you down. Now all of a sudden the dynamic changes, right? The vast majority don't want to take drugs so why should we cater a sport to the few that want to cheat — because most people want to (actually) do it right."
But then, what would the solution to doping be? "Athletes have to take the lead. We're not in the game to be everyone's friend. We're in it to have the best athletes compete and win. You can do that and be respected at the same time. There's no true leader in track and field who speaks about the issues, decides to put the sport on his back and work with the promoters, the public and call up the people who are doing wrong and hurt our brand.
"When it comes to any sport, you need to have leaders. The NBA is a perfect example. When the recent issue happened, the athletes stood up and took a stand and they are a part of the issue. Athletes need to realise that they need a fair sport and only then will things change."
Lewis said that athletes should start damage control from within, just like private companies do — it is the athletes that need to control the narrative.
"Whether it's a Jamaican or an American or anyone, issue should be: what do we do to make our sport better? I watched on TV a world championship that had 20,000 people in the stadium. When I went to the stadium (in competing days), it would be 60-80,000 people. So we should look at that problem and then break it down — because if we don't, whether it will be due to drugs or money or anything, our sport will disappear."
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Updated Date: May 22, 2014 10:07:53 IST