Runner serving doping suspension barred from San Antonio Marathon

There are several aspects to this story. First, if the reporter who wrote this or anyone else who really believes that U.S.-based New Zealand Olympian Lisa Hunter-Galvan only had EPO in her system when she happened to be surprise-tested (the Andy Pettite “defense”), they are living in la-la land.

I don’t know Lisa Hunter-Galvan and express no contempt for her as a person, but I would bet my life that she’s been juiced for years. There was talk of this long before she was actually caught. Talk is cheap, and there’s all too much of it from halfwit anonymous pundits on sites like Letsrun.com, but in my years following running, I have learned that when there is smoke, there is very often fire.

“I feel like I’m being tortured right now because I want to be a part of it, and I can’t,” Hunter-Galvan said of this weekend’s event. “I can’t even run a holiday Jingle Bell 5K.”

Maybe I’m being unreasonable, but I don’t see being banned from running events as akin to being waterboarded. If all she really wants is to run in races, then she can travel someplace she won’t be recognized and run under an anonym in some local-yokel event.

To be whimsically and unduly generous, perhaps she should be allowed to run in the race, and simply not be eligible for prize money or even a recognized victory should she cross the line before all other women. If she really wants to forge on under those conditions, fine. But it would be a local spectacle and I’m surprised she wants to race at all, all things considered. And if race directors elect to steer clear of her, I don’t blame them.

She claims to have acknowledged that she made some poor choices and is suffering the consequences, yet seems determined to dodge those very consequences. At root she seems unrepentant.

I often tell people that I’m glad I was never fast enough to consider taking performance-enhancers. It’s easy to sit back and fire away at drug cheats, and I do think that even if I’d “cleanly” gotten to the 2:15 marathon level or so, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I broke through to 2:11 thanks to doping, even if no one else ever found out. I’ve always wanted to be able to regard my race times as a function of whatever combination of talent, training, and luck helped me achieve them. But I can’t step into the mind of, say, a 13:15 5,000-meter runner trying to make it as a professional and remaining endlessly frustrated at the assuredly doped-up 12:55 types that prevent him from making a decent living via his craft. It becomes a matter of basically giving up and getting a “real job,” or giving in and hoping you don’t submit any dirty urines.

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