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"Shin Splints"
A Blog by Doug Logan

The Why

August 5, 2008

As I enjoy a few days at home before leaving for the 2008 Olympic Games, I have plenty of topics to chew on, and much to look forward to. At the Olympic Trials in Eugene, I enjoyed witnessing one of the very best athletic competitions I've ever seen. The Trials were a world-class event; from the action on the field, to the community involvement, to the fan festival. As I've said many times since July, as an authentic sporting event, the Super Bowl has nothing on the Olympic Trials.

Beijing has a lot to live up to after my experience in Oregon.

I have no doubt that our athletes themselves will live up to their own goals and expectations. I will be writing about the upcoming Olympics in my next blog, which will hit a web site near you just a few days before track competition starts. Tyson Gay, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards, Lauryn Williams, Jeremy Wariner, Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson, Brad Walker ... all these athletes and more will get their due from me. They deserve every bit of attention they get, and infinitely more. But before I move on to the events to come in Beijing, I wanted to explain something to the fans, observers, cynics, skeptics and supporters of track and field. And that is:

The Why.

Why what? Why I hate drugs and drug cheats, and why I won't shut up about it - not even with the Olympic Games at our doorstep. Now, some of you are probably saying to yourselves: "Would he just shut his yapper already? We've almost 4 whole weeks of him ranting and raving!", while others have been saying, "Thank goodness he's diving in head-first." You've seen my battle-cry against cheaters, and there is more to come. But I have yet to fully explain to the general public "the why" behind my vehemence on the topic.

I do it because if our sport doesn't set a course of brazen, vocal intolerance toward drugs, the viability of track and field on a go-forward basis is compromised. Or, as I like to say: if unchecked, drugs threaten to choke the life out of the sport. So I have a moral obligation to do my best to beat drugs to the punch and metaphorically choke the life out of drugs, drug cheats and their enablers. This course of action is needed from both an ethical and a business standpoint.

The budget of USATF is over $16 million, and it should be triple that figure. Congress and blue-chip sponsors have acknowledged that the organization has worked to eradicate drugs and that it has had a testing system in place for more than 20 years. There is no argument that Olympic sport has the most sophisticated anti-doping system on the planet. But I believe that far more sponsors would be more enthusiastic about us and our athletes if they got the sense that there is moral indignation and a commitment to really manhandle drugs to get them out of the sport. I am nothing if not indignant about drug use, and I don't plan to be quiet about it.

I do it because there are too many stories like the one related to me this past weekend by one of our elite athletes in Hershey, PA. This colleague of ours was training with one of the nine-year-old finalists for the Hershey North American Track and Field Championship. During a training run, this nine year old asked our athlete about steroids and said she heard that they would make her stronger. Nine years old!

I come from outside the world of track and field, which means that the day before I took this job, I had no friends ... and no enemies. I saw track as the general public saw it, not as 'track insiders' saw it. The insider/outsider viewpoints about where the sport is and what it needs can be vastly different. I feel the outsider angle is the one we most need.

Addressing drugs in genteel, coddling or sterile terms isn't going to get the job done. If some people are offended by that, or tired of hearing about it, or think that now "isn't the right time" for it, so be it. Here's the deal: If you use drugs, encourage others to use them or even turn the other way as others use them, we don't want you in our sport. I will continue on a high-profile, low-political correctness cleaning of our own house and moving forward. Substantive moves will enable us to shake off the past and move ahead, and will enable our athletes to get the attention, fame, glory, honor and money they deserve. The idea is that Tyson Gay, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards, Lauryn Williams, Jeremy Wariner, Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson and Brad Walker one day will be happy about the stance I took on drugs right out of the gate, because it will benefit them in the long run.

What we will find as we move forward is a robust opportunity to make domestic track and field the world-class, blue-chip business it should be. We should aspire to excellence of performance under the exacting rules of fair play. And if you're not aspiring to do that without drugs, I've got two words for you:

GET OUT!

 

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Photo of Doug Logan Doug Logan is the Chief Executive Officer of USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body for track and field, long distance running, and race walking. Headquartered in Indianapolis, the organization has more than 90,000 members throughout the country. Logan is responsible for overseeing programs ranging from youth track and field, to selecting teams to represent the United States at the Olympic Games and World Championships, to administering programs for age 40+ masters runners.

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