Jail Steroid Cheats, Says Gold Medal-Winning Olympian

Paula Radcliffe has some awful ideas for you to ignore

Getty Images
Apr 10, 2017 at 12:20 PM ET

A British gold medal-winning long distance runner, record-holder in the women’s marathon, and current vice-chairwoman of the IAAF athletes’ commission is calling for the cops to investigate and the courts to punish athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs. In an interview with BBC Radio on Sundaay, Paula Radcliffe, who’s spent years advocating for more stringent anti-doping measures, said that the only way to rid sports of doping is to dangle a legal sword of Damocles over every single athlete’s head.

Transcription via The42:

“The risks of cheating have to outweigh the benefits and the benefits are greater in road-running because there is more money available on the roads and people who choose to cheat can (in the) short-term, make those gains.”

If caught, said athlete should face financial harm greater than the fines, bans, and/or lost wages that are levied by the various leagues and/or organizing bodies, paying back not only organizers of the events but the other athletes as well:

“I think that’s why we have to move forward in terms of making the risks greater, so making sure that cheats have to pay back everything that they’ve won and that they would also be liable for the damages that they’ve taken from other athletes because let’s face it, they damage the sport.”

“They damage their fellow athletes in many ways by stealing moments from them, by also putting their own reputations in danger by choosing to cheat, and they damage the reputation of the race.”

Radcliffe clarified that she didn’t necessarily want those nabbed to serve jail time. Rather. she just wants both federal and local law enforcement officials to start busting down the occasional door:

“If it becomes a criminal offence, it makes it much easier for them to track (doping offenders) by using agencies such as FBI, customs agencies and (it) makes it far easier to raid athlete’s houses and be able to search where you have strong suspicions,”

This, of course, is bullshit. For all the investigative and punitive powers doled out to the WADAs and the IOCs of the world, their greatest success has been the creation of a new class of highly motivated and well-compensated criminals, all while stripping both time and resources from law enforcement, and kneecapping legitimate scientific study. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the War on [insert drug] has failed whenever and wherever it’s been implemented, and there’s no evidence to suggest that bringing down the hammer on athletes will prove otherwise.

On Friday, Kenyan gold medal-winning Olympic marathon runner Jemima Sumgong was busted for using EPO. In addition to any suspensions she might face, a $500,000 prize from the World Marathon Majors has been withheld until all of her appeals have been exhausted. And yet, that threat wasn’t enough to deter Sumgong, who hails from a country where doping is a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of $30,000. (The 2016 legislation was enacted to help convince WADA that Kenyan athletes shouldn’t be banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Kenya ultimately did participate. It didn’t go well.)

Multiple European countries have instituted legislation that punishes both PED users and distributors, but according to the BBC, the problem remains “widespread” and PEDs are “readily available.” When asked if they personally knew anyone who had used a banned substance, 35 percent of amateur English athletes said yes. For Radcliffe, the fact that prohibition isn’t stopping PED use somehow indicates that the system is working.

“Obviously it’s not great news for the sport, but I prefer to look on it as actually very good news in that cheats getting caught more now,” she said.