The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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More than earthquakes shake up China as the Olympics approach

Officials and organizations need to draw the line between what is natural athleticism compared to “scientifically-modified” athleticism. Today, it seems that every sport has become plagued with its own handful of performance-enhancing drugs, technological devices and other trade secrets to put the players on top.

Here’s proof that letting today’s scientific and technological advancements tangle with natural athleticism is not an acceptable notion. Clear and simple, these advancements are doing nothing more than interfering with natural-born talent.

Starting with the anabolic steroid craze that took over Major League Baseball, performance-enhancing drugs are being called into question every time a player or ballclub seems to outshine the rest.

Looks like Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs will go down in history as noticed, but not credible. And Roger Clemens’ future resembles more of a burned-out light bulb than a shining place in the Hall of Fame after he wielded the same needle as Bonds.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig remains skeptical about who else may be involved, and allegations have swirled long enough. When will they start suspending and even expelling these players from illegally breaking into the top of the record books?

Gold medalist Marion Jones had five medals, three gold and two bronze, stripped from her and her teammates from the 2000 Sydney Olympics after she admitted to succumbing to steroids. So where is the justice in the Major Leagues?

Then there was Spygate – who would have thought a football team, let alone any sports team, would watch pregame tapes of their upcoming opponent? It started in high school, but we find it shocking that the Patriots would dare take it a step farther and tape plays. Maybe officials are overreacting, but they have also failed to realize this practice has been going on for some time.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did implement a hefty penalty including revoking Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick’s first-round draft pick, a giant $500,000 fine, and compliments of Eli Manning, a Super Bowl loss to end what could have materialized into the perfect season. Chalk one up to the officials for administering a punishment – at least in the NFL they get it.

Another recent occurrence of science backfiring in athletics is the generations of bloodlines being implemented in horses used in such races as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

After Eight Belles broke both ankles during the Kentucky Derby and was euthanized on sight, PETA and other activists have sparked the newest controversy in sports: this sport is nothing more than a new form of animal cruelty that sends horses racing to the grave.

Science has allowed breeders to keep a prize horse’s DNA frozen for up to 20 years, and continually inject it in dozens of follies to ensure a better chance of winning. In retrospect, the blood of previously fallen horses runs through the veins of today’s could-be champions.

You can only imagine what the public’s response would be if we started practicing the same technique in runners from generations ago.

So where do all these examples lead? Only one event comes to mind that can give even the Super Bowl a run for its money: the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Olympic officials heavily weighed the decision to allow runner Oscar Pistorius, a 21-year-old double-amputee from South Africa, to compete in qualifying rounds for the approaching Olympics. Born without a fibula in either leg, Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee at the tender age of 11 months. Now, elated that he has the opportunity to represent his country in the 2008 games, Pistorius is being flooded with criticism by analysts arguing to have him barred from qualifying meets.

When Pistorius appealed the Court of Arbitration for Sport after the organization overturned a ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), he learned the track and field’s ruling organization banned him from competing against able-bodied athletes on the ground that his prosthetic, carbon fiber blades gave him a “mechanical” advantage. Because of the J-shaped “Cheetah” blades attached mid-thigh, it has been speculated that Pistorius can reach speeds that are virtually impossible for anyone without the blades to achieve. The agreement to let Pistorius race was based on the absence of the IAAF to prove the prosthetic legs gave Pistorius an unfair advantage.

The International Olympics Committee has the power to overrule and make the final decision in such cases; as a result, Pistorius has been given the go-ahead to try and qualify.

As media outlets around the world heard news of Pistorius’ celebratory achievement, many analysts began to question the fairness of letting the scientifically altered man line up next to a group of equally matched runners.

With the unfair advantage Pistorius’ legs give him, he should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics. The same would go for an athlete accused of injecting themselves with steroids to shave even .5 seconds off their time.

In his defense, Pistorius has confirmed he will race in the Beijing Paralympics on Sept. 6-17. So why not just rest content with a gold medal from these events? Pistorius already holds the record in the 400-meter Paralympics event with a blistering time of 46.56 seconds – just 1.01 seconds shy of the qualifying time for the same event in the Beijing Games.

However, should Pistorius fail to qualify for the 400-meter individual event, he has been nearly promised a spot on the South African 1,600-meter relay team – an event that does not require a qualifying time. Leonard Chuene, the president of Athletics South Africa, has even been quoted as saying, “We are very much hopeful that he will be part . . . of our team.”

As critics lashed out at the man who calls himself the fastest man on no legs, Pistorius took each blast in stride, as he continues to break records among other disabled athletes. It’s accepting that this is where he belongs that Pistorius is having trouble accepting. Saying he can do anything any other able-bodied athlete can do, Pistorius does not see the dilemma in letting him compete among men with two normal legs.

Others beg to differ. The members of the International Olympics Committee all agree they cannot allow enhanced devices and other technological and medical developments to be apart of an athlete’s chance at winning the gold. However, the committee has said, “If he makes it we would be delighted to welcome him.” Thus, enter the world of contradictory remarks. A final decision will not be confirmed until time trials are completed.

So, what’s stopping other athletes from taking part in some “enhancements” of their own? If a runner can compete with “Cheetah” legs, can a swimmer wear a swimsuit that is only “speculated” to cut a whopping three seconds off their time? Can a weightlifter inject a shot of steroids once a week leading up to their big debut to make that final lift look a little more effortless? I highly doubt it.

If Pistorius does manage to qualify for the Olympics, or sign on as a member of the South Africa relay team, a whole new can of worms will be opened as to whether the runner’s time is accurate. And then the question will be raised, “Could he have run that fast with normal legs?” I’m sure the odds are in his favor, but years later, there’s not much data in Pistorious’ defense to back him up.

If we are going to cut one athlete slack, then why not allow all athletes to indulge in a little self-enhancement? I’m not na’ve in thinking every athlete is amazing from their own talent, but Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and even the New England Patriots aside, most Olympic hopefuls have trained for years, even decades to reach the level of perfection they possess today. With any luck, the International Olympics Committee will realize they have made a mistake, regretfully inform Pistorius they must reverse their decision to let him compete, and send him back to his hotel room until he can honestly enter the arena as a runner for the Paralympics games.

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