Can I be honest? I want to be extremely proud of Ye Shiwen, the 16 year old Chinese swimmer who smashed the world record and won the gold medal in the 400 IM at the London 2012 Olympics. I truly wanted to post a blog about how the world is against her because she is only 16, and a female. I hesitated because of the issues that surrounded two celebrated athletes, Ben Johnson and Marion Jones. Ben Johnson, Canada’s fastest man and Marion Jones the fastest woman on the planet were considered the best athletes in the world, in their events and both won gold medals to prove it. Eventually, both Ben and Marion were stripped of their Olympic medals due to illegal drug use and doping.
Ben Johnson, in the 1988 Seoul Olympics was give the title of the “Worlds Fastest Man”. We as Canadians cheered, our pride swelled, that was our Ben! Then the truth came out and were were faced with the fact that Ben lied. His 9.79 second 100 meter gold medal win was drug induced. Within 72 hours he was stripped of his medal and Canadians felt the same shame Ben Johnson did. However, Ben came back to racing, he even was able to beat American Carl Lewis. He found redemption in his sport and was respected by his fans, family and most importantly he respected himself again. He now lives in Markham, Ontario and penned a book called from Seoul to Soul, an autobiography.
Marion Jones was the world’s fastest woman hands down. She had a long history in the Track and Field world and was a celebrated American athlete. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics Marion won 6 medals, an amazing feat for any Olympic athlete. Her husband a shot putter admitted under oath that Marion had injected herself with steroids during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney Australia. Marion’s fall from grace did not stop at her medals being stripped. She was sentenced to 6 months in jail for check fraud and perjury. To this day she has not returned to her field of sport.
Let us now add Tyson Gay to this equation. An American 100 metre sprinter has now tested positive to a banned substance. He was quoted as saying “I put my trust in someone and they let me down”. Again this begs the answer to my questions, what now…what now for Tyson Gay? Will be he be tossed aside just like his above counterparts? A career cut short, a cheater, cheated by those whom he trusted most. I am interested to see what the future will hold for this young athlete.
If Ye Shiwen truly won the 400 metre IM on her own accord, then she is a Chinese national hero and an inspiration to young swimmers worldwide. This is why I worry about young Ye Shiwen. What kind of support will she receive if eventually she is found to have cheated? Will her coaches and country be there to help her pick up the pieces?
Time will tell what the truth is, I can only hope Ye Shiwen is taken care of in the aftermath.