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In the Roman arena between sports and doping
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-04-17 08:08:28
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The summer that is coming is an all sports summer with the London Olympics to hold the top sport event of the year and the European nation’s championship to follow. But the sports summer is coming after a very dark winter where the event that won all the sports was heart attacks with a 25 years-old Italian footballer the latest victim.

Piermario Morosini died last Saturday after suffering cardiac arrest on the pitch during his team's Serie B match at Pescara. And the week before it was a woman athlete and a couple of weeks before another football player in south America and then a British player and before another and another. And things don’t stop with the heart, liver or kidney failures are part of the equation that leads to the worst hidden sports secret, medical assistant and I’m not talking about simple medical assistance but the short of help athletes get to improve their abilities and participate in championships.

Checking online lists of famous athletes that died the last twenty years cardiac arrest and car accidents seem to be the common reasoning behind their death. And then there was a suspicious coincidence, the vast majority of the coming from the industrial west, Europe- North America. We are talking about hundreds of names in lists with athletes from all the sports with common element championships including Olympians and I’m sure somewhere there are other lists with thousands of names for the last twenty years with names that never reached that level.

I’m not a doctor and I’m not trying to solve mysteries but here we have people who practice sports in high level competitive environment supported from medical teams in some cases like American basketball, European championships or Olympic teams supported from medical dream teams. For example in my case it was enough to report a pain and my family’s medical history for my doctor to do a more thorough research and perhaps save my life why is it different for somebody who’s watched 24/7 from people who are employed to do exactly that, prevent any health problem and do something about it.

And this is where the other, the secret element comes in action. Championship in any sport and level means money and investments; a lot of money, millions. Months before the London Olympics and athletes from all sports have storm in our lives appearing in fashion shows to driving sports cars and suggesting soft drinks for fitness. A whole industry that reaches every single industry gets a push through those athletes but to fulfil their image they apart form the perfect bodies they must accompany their visual image with a medal and in the world of inhuman records practice doesn’t make you perfect. Comes medicine – however twisting that sounds – to give that extra help. Since Helsinki Olympics in 52, medical assistance to athletes is a common secret with the soviet union championing for decades. And in Athens Olympics in 2004 we found out that it was not the case of discovering who was doped but who was discovered doped and what drug could be traced.

Heading for the London Olympics WADA the World Anti-Doping Agency is desperately trying to find ways to trace new generation drugs acknowledging the fact that most of these super-athletes are not as pure as they want to look. Some of the records we read the last two decades define even basic nature laws and after millions of years with humanity beating her environment with the power of a brain the last twenty years humans can beat even the cheetah in speed. And I’m talking about the Olympics because it is the more obvious environment but other sports are not far behind. Actually I’m afraid that what happens in the Olympics pales in front what happens in football – American or soccer – basketball and other sports where money is the prime element. Just look at the salaries some of these players take to get the picture. Some of them get yearly enough money to feed the whole Africa for months.

I love the Olympic games and since I was a kid it was my favourite sports event. I remember brilliant athletes who became life models but the whole thing with the doping has shadowed everything. I’m afraid watching nowadays some of these sports events are like watching battles between slaves and lions in roman arenas, where who wins doesn’t really matter what really matters is the excitement of the crowds and how many soft drinks they are going to buy!

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Emanuel Paparella2012-04-17 10:57:06
Indeed Thanos, and to think that the Olympics' original reward for winning a competition was a mere laurel on one's head.

Homo ludens, man who plays for its own sake is gone and so has the joy of it all; enter greedy man who does nothing for its own sake, and refers everything to money and profits and status. As Socrates aptly put it: genlemen the real problem is not my death and how to avoid it, for we all die, but corruption which runs faster than death and once it has caught up with you, it may not let you go. Meaning I suppose that one dies as one lives...and that refers to entire civilizations and cultures as well as to individuals.

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