Monday, October 27, 2003 - Perspective
Haywood National Team Report: Stuck in the Mud?

- By: Sara Renner

The International Olympic Committee lurches forward like a truck with transmission troubles, with no one willing to get their hands dirty to fix thessarsar problem. The Olympic ideals of fair play and clean sport just donít hold the moral grit that it did when I was a kid.

My teammate, Beckie Scott had her dayÖ again. It has been 21 months since she bravely spoke out against the rampant doping abuses in Cross Country Skiing, shrugged off allegations that she was misinformed by head of WADA (World Anti Doping Agency), Dick Pound, and then won Canadaís first ever Nordic medal behind two Russians. Later, the Russians both flunked their pee tests.

The pursuit race in Salt Lake City was quite a day. As I came across the finish line in 19th place, I looked up and saw our wax technician, Yves Bilodeau flying through the air. I knew it had to be a medal. I donít think I have ever been part of such a euphoric, pure jubilation, get down on your knees and yodel, kind of environment. It wasnít my medal, but this was something our team had been working towards since, well, forever and I was part of it. It was a perfect Olympics.

The bronze medal was a breakthrough for Canadian skiing. I cannot imagine what it would have been like if it had been gold and we heard the Canadian anthem at the medal ceremonies.

This past Tuesday, Beckie symbolically received a silver medal. Larissa Lazutina is officially disqualified because of a doping offence prior to the Games. The Russian skier is no stranger to Olympic medals. Her first one was in Albertville in 1992 and she would have had ten Olympic medals if she hadnít flunked her doping tests. I doubt she was powered throughout her ten-year career purely on borscht and oatmeal. Lazutina was welcomed home as a hero and in December she will have served her doping ban and if she chooses, she will be eligible to compete.

Beckieís final fate is stuck in a legal quagmire. She wonít know if she is golden until the appeals launched by the Canadian and Norwegian Olympic Associations against the dopers are resolved. It takes two years for an athlete who cheats to serve their time. It might take even longer for a Cross Country skier to be rewarded for clean and unbeatable performance. This is hard to swallow considering it took the IOC only two days to sort out and award medals to David Pelletier and Jamie Salle.

Before the Games started Jacques Rogge, IOC President said that "... it takes more than crossing the finish line first to make a champion. A champion is more than a winner. A champion is someone who respects the rules, rejects doping, and competes in the spirit of fair play."

The only way I can combat dopers is to beat them on the ski trails and fight a clean fight. The IOC has a chance and the power to address drug use in sport and practice what they preach. They need to get their hands dirty, set a precedent, fix the problem and enforce their Olympic ideals.

Haywood WC Report is powered by Haywood Securities Inc., proud sponsor of the†Senior†National Cross Country Ski Team

Source: Cross Country Canada

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