'Era of Doubt' is Robbing Our Generation of Great Sporting Theatre
Taoufik Makhloufi. A name even athletics fans might struggle to place. Fewer still would have been able to before the Algerian stormed the 1500m at the 2012 Olympics in London. In a talented field, he had come out of nowhere. A performance which used to bring celebration for one who had defied the odds.
Steve Cram, on commentary, wasted no time in making his thoughts on the African's display known, and he wasn't celebrating. Labelling him as 'the controversial Algerian', Cram asserted that 'not many people would have thought he could do this'. He had won 'in a manner that many will find surprising'.
A psychologist isn't required to offer the subtext in those statements. Cram felt Makhloufi was bent. That chemical enhancements, rather than dedication that had done the work.
It's a worrying trend in numerous sports. Although the Steroid Era could be closing, the Era of Doubt has begun.
The effects are wide ranging. Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen. Tour De France champion Chris Froome. Orioles First-Baseman Chris Davis.
None of them, including Makhloufi, have ever been linked to drugs, aside from using PEDs as an explanation of their sporting feats.
And that's sad.
We used to call these unexpected exhibitions 'breakouts'. Now our attitude towards them is broken. We can't enjoy them to the full any more.
I don't blame anyone for doubting. Like a lover, betrayed too often, we can't commit even when confronted with what seems, at last, to be the real thing. Lance Armstrong, Tyson Gay and Ryan Braun. All heroes with now broken reputations. Glue them up, but you'll still see the join.
Some would evangelise doping as a somehow noble act – They just wanted it so damn much - and other defences. There was almost a perverse dignity in it. You cheated. You got caught. You took the punishment. You are a martyr to your dreams.
It's a crock. We've been caught up in your cheating, and it's punished us.
The joy of sport is in the unexpected, the 'where did that come from?' That's why we keep watching. Every failed test, every tearful apology, mocks us. It kills our ability to believe what we see.
And you can't go back - you can't revel in a moment hours, days, years later, when it turns out they were clean all along. You've missed the moment in every possible way.
I don't have any answers. Drug testing in almost every sport is stronger now than it has ever been and yet there are still those who think they can beat the system. As long as we have sport, we'll have doping. As long as we have doping we'll have doubt.
I watched the video of Taoufik Makhloufi so many times I can picture it in my head. Should have been a great sporting moment, but I feel empty. Thanks drug-cheats. Serve your ban. Rehabilitate your image. Smile for the fans.
But you're ruining it. For all of us.
From his home in London, Glyn Bowen writes about sports for TJRSports.com
Follow him on Twitter @gbsixty