By Morgan Smith
On May 31, 2008, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set a new world record in the 100 meter dash, posting a time of 9.72 seconds.
In even less time than that, people were asking themselves if Bolt was a cheater, and had used performance enhancing drugs to best the previous mark.
The use of performance enhancing drugs has a long history in track and field, starting for me, when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his Olympic Gold Medal.
Recently, the high profile cases of Marion Jones and other athletes have caused people to become skeptical about any elite performance in track and field.
Is this suspicion fueled by the media, who insist on no longer covering just the world records, but add to those stories the behaviors of those who came before, essentially allowing no one to come into the sport with a clean slate.
Case in point is an article in the June 2, 2008 New York Times. The story is not about the 21 year-old who set the record, but the doping problems the sport faces. Unintentionally, the author put Bolt in the middle of the doping controversy, instead of helping him to celebrate his achievement. The author writes “If Bolt is clean — and at this point there is no evidence that he is not — he already finds himself a victim of the most corrosive aspect of pervasive doping: the innocent can no longer prove their innocence,” essentially proving his own point.
Sometimes, unrelated facts should be left out of an article, especially if they tarnish the reputation of an individual who did nothing but participate in a sport where others cheated.