The No True Scotsman logical fallacy remains a dominant theme in professional track and field (and many other sports). It doesn’t matter who gets flagged for a positive doping test or how often such things happen; the typical track fan is somehow able to dismiss each case as an outlier. When the scandals start happening at increasingly shorter intervals, people can somehow pretend they never even heard about the previous one.
Ben Johnson in 1984? Oh, well, everyone already *knew* he was on ‘roids but he was an exception.
Carl Lewis? Well, he just got a warning for a low-grade stimulant, not a suspension.
Flo-Jo? No evidence.
Dieter Baumann? Well, his toothpaste story has a ring of truth to it.
Linford Christie? Old and trying to hang on. What a douche anyway.
Merlene Ottey? Gimme a break, she was like 45 when she retired.
Dennis Mitchell? LOL! Funny story about the booze and the women.
Marion Jones? Hey, at least she admitted it on Oprah, unlike others.
Mary Slaney? Eh, she was probably clean for a while when she was younger.
Regina Jacobs? No one liked her anyway.
Bernard Lagat? His “B” sample cleared him, moron.
Donovan Bailey? Didn’t he have some weird disease> Plus he’s Jamaican and everyone there but Usain Bolt is dirty.
Yohan Blake? Wasn’t he like 18 though?
Justin Gatlin? Hell, he served his time and at least has the balls to be out there now.
LaShawn Merritt? I *knew* you couldn’t trust ExtenZe!
Rita Jeptoo? Damn Italian agents must have corrupted her. Good thing we have so many Africans to root for.
The insane thing is that, whenever the topic of PEDs comes up, the apologists are often the first people to scream that a particular athlete who hasn’t been caught is as dirty as they come. They bellow that Paula Radcliffe’s vocal anti-drug stance reeks of doth-protest-too-much bullshit, and when someone points a finger at Salazar’s group, they insist that their neighbors, Schumacher’s stable, are much more likely to cheat. When the body count inevitably piles up, they shake their heads at the “rogues” who pissed all over their coaches’ and teammates’ trust.
But I get it. The sport at the top level remains a fundamentally clean one. I mean, this isn’t pro football, for fuck’s sake, or bodybuilding, or cycling, or weight lifting, or baseball, or Nordic skiing, or wrestling, or triathlon. Running and in particular distance running has little in common with these sports. In fact, most cross-country athletes make the honor roll and the dean’s list in college.