Johnson & Holmes fear war on doping may never end
Olympic heroes Michael Johnson and Dame Kelly Holmes believe the fight against doping and cheats may never be won.
While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and athletics federations have put athletes under greater scrutiny amid a zero-tolerance policy, there have still been high-profile cases in 2013.
None more so than former triple world champion Tyson Gay, who tested positive for a banned steroid in July, and ex-100m world record holder Asafa Powell, who tested positive for a banned stimulant at June’s Jamaican Championships.
Female Jamaican sprinter Sherone Simpson failed a drugs test at the same event, while, another compatriot, ex-Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown has also tested positive for a banned diuretic.
American Johnson, one of the greatest track stars after four Olympic golds and eight World Championship titles, said: “Athletics has a zero-tolerance policy with drugs and, in a way, we have kind of suffered because of that. Since we control it more than most sports, we have more scandals and more people caught.
“It does sadden me, absolutely. But it’s something that every sport is dealing with.
“Despite that, you are never going to have a situation where no one cheats – athletics is a microcosm of real life and in real life you will always have people who cheat. It’s unrealistic to expect athletics to be a drug-free sport.
"Other sports may have fans that can put up with it, but in athletics the fans want to see the Olympians hold true to the Olympic ideal and values.”
Johnson was speaking at the second edition of the Doha GOALS Forum in Qatar.
Joining him on a panel to discuss the future of athletics, double Olympic champion Holmes said the sport had to find ways of getting ahead of the scientists who help athletes beat stringent doping tests.
“There are many question marks against athletics right now,” said the former British middle-distance star.
“It’s big under the Olympic banner but outside of that it has its challenges. Team sports and sports like cycling have support networks around them, whereas athletics is a very individual sport.
“Of course, the issue of drugs will always be there since the scientists appear to be ahead of the testers. Something has to change to say that drugs has no place in sport.”