Lord Moynihan has proposed tougher sanctions for athletes caught taking performance-enhancing drugs in the UK, including spending up to two years in jail.
Ben Johnson was a hero of mine.
In 1988, at the Seoul Olympics, he became the fastest man on earth, nailing a time of 9.79 seconds in the 100-meter sprint.
But that’s not why he was a hero.
My mate Graham Dillon used to run like Lewis, and I used to run like Johnson. That victory was proof that the karate chop palm move was second rate. The bullet train punch power of Johnson was top notch.
And then he was disqualified for failing a drugs test.
The gold medal went to the karate chopper.
That race ended the career of Johnson. He was disgraced. But it wasn’t the end of the world. He was a free man, and although he would have had to write the words ‘drugs cheat’ on his resume, I’m sure he could have still got a job working at Ikea or Home Depot.
Lord Moynihan wants to change that. The former British Olympic Association chairperson is pushing hard for a new law to be passed that will send drug cheats to prison should they be found guilty of such activities when competing in the UK.
The Mail Online quotes Lord Moynihan: “Intentional doping in sport remains the worst crime an athlete can commit. Why? Because they have defrauded a clean athlete not only out of selection, but out of their career. They shred the dreams of clean athletes with every needle they inject.”
The man who won an Olympic silver medal for rowing at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and was also awarded the Olympic Order after the 2012 London Olympics failed to pick up on the money that drug cheats rob from their whiter than white counterparts, a point not lost on super mum Jo Pavey.
Pavey backed Moynihan’s proposals when she said, “I have been defrauded out of money for races where dopers have finished ahead of me. Sportspeople who choose to dope should face the possibility of a criminal process.”
The idea is not a new one.
France strengthened their anti-doping laws ahead of this year’s Tour de France. Those caught doping on French soil could face a year behind bars. Germany has even sterner punishments lined up for athletes who stray from the rules on their homeland. A draft anti-doping law that could lead to a decade behind bars was passed by Germany’s cabinet earlier this year.
Moynihan’s proposals don’t cut that deep. Instead, he is proposing that anyone caught taking performance-enhancing drugs on UK soil should be sent to prison for two years. The proposals also indicate that anyone, regardless of nationality, can stand trial in the UK if found guilty of these misdemeanours during competitions held in the UK.
Conservative sports minister Tracey Crouch has asked officials to take a peek at Moynihan’s proposals, and it’s hoped that tougher legislation will pass in time for the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. Coaches and support staff involved in supplying the athlete with drugs can also spend time behind bars.
I never did find out if Graham Dillon took dope, but then again, he was only 13-years old.