As you most of you already know or may have guessed, I exercise regularly and a significant part of my workout is structured around weights. I enjoy lifting weights for many reasons, but the main ones are pretty simple; to increase strength and sculpt my body. Now before anyone jumps to the conclusion that the latter is somehow an indicator I have taken up body building, I have not. At least not yet anyway. I do, however have the pleasure and privilege of coaching body builders from time to time, and most of my early morning workouts are spent witnessing the dedication of a friend who has competed several times and is preparing to compete again May 9 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
Anytime the topic of body building comes up, the conversation almost always includes discussion surrounding steroids, doping and illegal drug use. Unfortunately they are almost considered synonymous. About a year ago however, through conversations with clients and my gym friends that actively compete, it was made clear to me that more and more competitions are no longer allows competitors to use these harmful substances to get an edge on the competition. Instead, more and more event organizers are in favour of hosting natural body building events and promoting “clean” competitions, Kelowna's event being one of them. A natural or “clean” competition means that the only way participants have to truly get an edge over their competition is to eat cleaner, train harder and practise their stage presence until it becomes second nature. I'll admit I was more than a little excited “clean” body building was becoming a real thing and I remember telling my friend how glad I was that that the sport was becoming healthier and that testing was being done prior to competitions. Then he told me the rest of the story.
What I didn't realize was that although testing is in fact being done on competitors, it's being done after the competition, not before. Yes, you heard correctly, testing after not before. Did anyone else just get a flashback of Ben Johnson's famous gold medal winning race at the 1988 Seoul Olympics? We all know that he failed the drug test following the race, his medal was rescinded and it was then given to the rightful winner. Herein lies the problem. Does anyone actually remember who came in second in those high profile events? Or in any event? I am embarrassed to admit I actually had to use google to confirm that it was in fact Carl Lewis was actually awarded gold after the fact, and I had even watched the race on TV.
When rules and regulations are put in place for any type of sporting event and then are either ignored, loosely adhered to, or enforced after the fact, it leaves the door of opportunity wide open for those willing to push the limits to gain recognition or a claim a title they didn't honestly earn or rightfully deserve. I understand that once the rule breaker is caught his or her title is removed, as it should be, but what about those people who choose to play by the rules, what happens to them? Although the person who played by the rules does get the title in the end, he or she never really gets to experience the win. It's Ben and “what's his name,,?” all over again. Winners after the fact are robbed of their well-deserved moment of fame. That spotlight moment on stage, holding up the trophy while the crowd cheers just for them, smiling while their family and friends take dozens of pictures “in the moment”... all missed. But it doesn't have to be this way any more.
Although I recognize that implementing changes on a large scale may not be doable on such short notice for next week's body building competition, It can be done for future events. I would like to challenge all organizers of local, tested events and competitions to shake things up a little bit and require all athletes submit to banned substance testing upon registration and once again on competition day. Yes, it may be a little more work for the organizers up front, however in the log run, damage control wouldn't be needed, the athletes are healthier, the playing field is levelled and those that deserve to win will be able to enjoy their time in the spotlight. After all they've earned it.
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