I was surprised at the incredible bias of Steve Cram, Brendan Foster and John Inverdale, following Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin’s gold medal win in the 1500m tonight. Apparently she had previously served a two-year suspension for doping after the 2004 world junior championships.
Cram started the diatribe with “Well that might not be received – and forgive me for saying that – with the most enthusiasm around the world …and to be honest I don’t think it was a race that most 1500m fans would enjoy.”
Well Steve, if you feel the need to ask forgiveness for saying something, why say it in the first place? Im sure if Steve’s protege, Laura Weightman, had won exactly the same race in exactly the same way, he would have hardly described it as unenjoyable.
Foster then went on to comment “well we don’t enjoy distance runners who’ve been banned and come back”, whilst Inverdale threw a loaded question to Michael Johnson – “The sport does not want a drugs offender to be Olympic champion do they and that’s what it got there.”
Johnson replied intelligently, pointing out that “we don’t know the circumstances – at the end of the day, she served her suspension, she’s allowed to run, she’s back in the sport and she will be tested tonight – and no news is good news.”
Do I believe that athletes who take performance enhancing drugs should be stripped of the titles gained from this? Absolutely. Should they be further punished for what they did? Yes, no question; they have denied a legitimate winner their opportunity to properly celebrate their success.
But when a talented athlete takes their punishment, learns from the experience and is allowed to compete in the future, then they have every right to do so, and for their talent to be properly recognised and respected; not dismissed in poor, biased, unprofessional commentary.
Asli Cakir Alptekin has grown up, moved on and put the past behind her – Cram and co need to do the same.