Readers of my occasional diatribes and wild rantings about so-called ‘sports stars’ will have gathered I am, in general, no fan of any sport. As a very young boy, I accompanied my dad and my eldest brother to a local football match, but disgraced myself, and of course; my dad and my brother for cheering the wrong team’s goal. They might as well have held up a large banner, which said ‘He is definitely not with us!’ But I digress. I accept that, to many millions, the sporting heroes are as ‘the gods who have consented to live amongst us’: those talented people whose skill, perseverance and native talent have made them great at whatever sport or game they excel in can, virtually, do no wrong: in the eyes and minds of their legions of supporters, of course. Whether in activities on the sports ground, or indeed off it, they are given a ‘free pass’ because they are ‘special’. Whether football, athletics, tennis; the top people are courted, hunted and acclaimed, and paid huge sums of cash just to get them to perform: and I just honestly do not get it. I cannot see the draw, the pull, the very reason why people, in all other aspects perfectly reasonable and normal, travel huge distances, spending ever-larger sums of cash, to watch and support a team, or an individual, who excels at the endeavour, sport, game or hypnotic event of their choice.
But the one thing which I do, in very great detail, really ‘get’ is the general attitude of sports administrators towards sports ‘stars’ when they are found to have gone beyond the rules, and enhanced their activities on the pitch, or the field, or the track; or indeed the court, by the judicious use of any type of illegal or synthetic drug. The administrators usually fall over themselves to make excuses for these druggies, using such lame terms as ‘They have served their sentence’ / they have made amends’ or any other of the totally bland words which quietly demands that everyone should ‘forgive and forget’, or to use that other well-worn cliche ‘to move on’. Its all about ‘bums on seats’, or the ‘draw of a big name’: conveniently forgetting that that same ‘big name’ has been shooting steroids for years, or injecting or swallowing the latest ‘designer’ drug which is guaranteed to metabolise out of the way of the urine testing regimes within fifteen milliseconds after the medals have been awarded.
So I am more than entranced to be able to report that the DRUG CHEAT Maria Sharapova has been notified that she will not be allowed to compete at the French Tennis Open, as the administrator (cheers, Bernard Giudicelli) has firmly stated ‘There can be a wildcard for people returning from injuries, there cannot be a wildcard for people returning from doping,’. So drug-free players can compete in the knowledge that they are only battling against other human beings, with no ‘hot sauce’ added to the mix!