Scandal After Scandal In Sports


I logged onto CNN.com this morning to read about another potential doping scandal in sports. This time it was in cycling.

According to CNN, Spanish officials have linked some of the Tour De France’s top riders, including tour favorite Jan Ulrich to drug doping (CNN.com).

For now I will reserve judgment on this particular story, since Lance Armstrong was wrongfully accused by Dick Pound and L’Equipe last year.

It seems that on a weekly basis sports fans are hearing stories about drugs in sports. Today’s stories are about human growth hormones, steroids, drug doping and other performance enhancing drugs.

As a sports fan I’m outraged and saddened by these scandals. I personally want to see fair play in sports. I don’t have to see records being broken. I also want the best athlete/team to win by playing within the rules.

So who’s to blame? I think a number of parties need to take some responsibility.

1) Professional Sports Teams & Governing Bodies – There’s a lot of pressure put on athletes to break records. Most professional athletes have incentives tied to their contracts. If they hit certain targets or set records they can earn a lot more money.

Amateur athletes can change their lives forever by setting records, earning championships, etc. They can go on to professional sports where lucrative contracts exist.

Sports franchises and their governing bodies have historically turned a blind eye to sports doping, steroids, etc. Their teams and leagues flourished and fans poured into the stands.

Why would they want to rock the boat? Well I guess integrity, ethics, morality and fair play come to mind.

It’s time for professional and amateur sports leagues and associations to get tough with the athletes that cheat. I believe in lifetime bans for cheaters who take performance enhancing drugs.

2) The Fan – Yes we are must take some of the blame. If it weren’t for the fan demanding more records or faster and stronger athletes, sports teams wouldn’t feel the need to turn a blind eye to performance enhancing drugs.

Fans are so focused on winning. They will not tolerate failure with their sports teams. Fans stop attending games, matches and competitions when their teams or favorite athletes don’t do well.

This puts unfair pressure on athletes, sports franchises and leagues/associations.

3) The media. It’s all about hype today. This hype apparently leads to better ratings. The sports media want to see records being broken. They also want to see superhuman athletes.

When scandals break, the sports media acts shocked and they react harshly. I also think that in the past the media unintentionally failed to report on potential scandals until it’s too late.

Now I think that the media is waking up. Now they are looking for the next scandal to come their way.

4) The cheating athlete – The athlete that cheat’s is the most culpable in my mind. They’re the ones taking the drugs and making the decision to play unfairly.

No one’s putting a gun to their head. What about playing sports for the love of the game and not for the greenback.

It’s time for sports athletes to take a stand against any form of cheating.

Today’s athletes are so consumed about money that they will do anything to win. I would like to see athletes playing their sport for the absolute love of the game. That should be the motivating factor. If you do well and end up profiting from it, great. If not, at least you’ll have the satisfaction that you did your best, enjoyed the competition and played within the rules.

Signs of Over-Training for Sports Athletes

Hard workouts equals a lean body; this equation is one most athletes depend on. But does one always equal the other?

Unfortunately the answer is no. In fact, chronic over-training can signal the storage of fat. It not only can be telling your body to store fat, but it can also be storing the fat at your waist-line.

Physical training is a form of stress that is applied onto the body. During stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol (a glucocorticoid from the adrenal gland). Cortisol’s primary function is to release glucose (insulin) into the blood at times of acute stress. So, the more stress you place on your body, the more cortisol is released.

Chronic stress (overtraining) results in an excess of cortisol, which will cause higher baseline cortisol levels. This excess keeps the body with high insulin levels, which blocks fat metabolism, and sends fat into storage at the waist. Excess cortisol also breaks down muscle tissue, and suppresses immune defenses, which is the opposite effect the athlete is looking for (getting fat, weak and sick is not really ideal).

Cortisol levels rise with exercise but should decrease to a normal range with adequate recovery. Often, the problem is that today’s high school and college athletes aren’t getting the proper recovery time. It could mean they have a program that isn’t allowing them the proper amount of recovery and restoration periods. But assuming the coach is doing his/her job, there are other factors that can influence athlete stress levels.

Stress from school work, a job, relationships, lack of sleep, and inadequate nutrition can add to the stress of intense training that the athlete goes through each day. If you are training hard and cannot seem to get rid of that little extra fat around your tummy, the chances that your cortisol levels are elevated are extremely high.

Signs of over-training for sports athletes.

Here are some signs of over-training:

– insomnia

– decrease in appetite

– decrease in performance

– loss of coordination

– prolonged recovery

– amenorrhea

– increase in muscle soreness

– loss of body weight

– elevated heart rate

– chronic fatigue

– decreased motivation

– decreases immune system (increase in infections, colds, etc…)

Look for these signs with your athletes as over-training severely affects performance. When you suspect that your athlete or athletes might be suffering from over-training, back off of their training immediately and work on their recovery. If you continue to train during this state, injury and low performance level will strike your athletes.

Masters Sports Athletic Competition By Age Groups

“We’re not retiring, we’re retooling”(TM)

This was the year that I finally began competing in Masters Track and Field. I am 60 years old and throw the discus.

It had been a 41 year hiatus since my last competition, so I expected that things had changed somewhat. That was an understatement. The bottom line wasn’t too bad for my first year. I managed to win all the local and state meets and then went to the Nationals and finished 2nd in my age group.

I want to have more of an impact next year and I now know what I need to do. And it will take a bit more strategy than I thought, but it should be worth the effort.

As we all know, athletic training has come a long way since we were in High School and College in the early and mid 60’s. For me throwing style, weight training, core training, flexibility, and speed work have moved light years ahead of where I left off, so I had a lot to learn.

But it is easy to get the information with the internet. What was difficult was the way my body responded. It seems that having a 60 year old body with an 18 year old mind can lead to a lot of problems. And it did.

Fortunately, our younger son is a Sports Medicine doctor so I have a great resource. His continuous words to me all focus on a recurring theme, “…overuse injury, Dad.” So heed this advice, take it easy. We simply can’t keep up with the kids.

I have learned a lot through all the injuries, recoveries, training, track meets, and travel involved.

I will share a lot of the details in future articles. But for now here are some conclusions I have drawn that should make us all feel better.

First, I found that I can do a lot more than the books and articles implied regarding strength and muscle development at this age. But it takes longer.

Second, we sure take a long time to heal, so don’t get injured.

Third, start every new training method really, really slowly so you don’t get sore muscles or worse.

Fourth, there are tons of resources available regarding whatever sport or event you want to get involved with, so do your research.

Fifth, if necessary, get your weight under control before you start training for your event. Being overweight adds a lot of problems to joints, tendons and ligaments. Also, carrying extra weight is tough on our hearts when we are asking them to work harder. Plus, we want to look good in all the nice new athletic clothing we have.

Sixth, one of my resources is something I never would have accepted back in the 60;s, I now have a ballet instructor. The discus actually requires a ballet move, so why not go right to the source. She can also help me stay healthy.

Finally, in most sports, ground contact is critical, so take really good care of your legs in training. They provide most of the strength and speed we need, so heed those great words of wisdom I hear all the time “overuse injury, Dad.”

I injured my ankle before the season started and didn’t have time to address it until the season was over. That was a real nuisance.

Diet, weight control, and rest are very important to all athlete and especially us more mature athletes.

Remember, rest allows recovery and recovery precedes muscle development, so rest is critical.

Caribbean Sports & Athletes!

Road to London 2012!

Dominica

Did you know- In the 1995 Pan American Games in Mar del Plata (Argentina), Dominica’s runner Steven Agar finished tenth in the 5,000-meter event.

Dominican Republic

Did you know- Despite having won the X Baseball World Cup in Managua (Nicaragua) in 1948, the National team lost the chance to win a gold medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Guatemala City. Unfortunately the anticipated showdown between Cuba and the Dominican Republic did not occur. Why? The Dominican government refused to participate in the international games in the early 1950s.

Grenada

Did you know- Alleyne Francique of Grenada came in fourth place in the men’s 400m at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. His performance made him “the Island’s best known athlete”. Since the Island gained its independence from the United Kingdom in the 1970s, the Olympic team has not won an Olympic medal.

Jamaica

Did you know- The Commonwealth Games were held in Kingston (Jamaica’s capital) in August 1966. Previously, the IX Central American and Caribbean Games took place in the Island in 1962.

Netherlands Antilles

Did you know- By 2008, the Island’s athlete Churandy Martina –one of the most high-profile sprinters in the Western Hemisphere between 2006 and 2009– was named by the National Olympic Committee as the flag bearer of the national delegation for the 29th Summer Olympics in the People’s Republic of China.

Puerto Rico

Did you know- In 1960, Puerto Rico’s athlete Rolando Cruz finished fourth in the men’s pole vault at the Summer Games in Rome, Italy. From 1959 to 1966, he had won three golds in the central American and Caribbean Games.

Saint Kitts & Nevis

Did you know- Surprisingly, the Island’s sprinter Kim Collins captured the gold medal in the men’s 100m at the IAFF World Championships in the early 2000s. Although his performance in the Games of the 28th Olympiad in August 2004 disappointed many of his fans: Collins placed sixth in the 100 meters.

Saint Lucia

Did you know- A six-member team from Saint Lucia –a former British colony until 1979- participated in the Games of the XXVI Olympiad in the American city of Atlanta in July and August 1996.

West Indies Federation

Did you know- At the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago (Illinois, USA), Antilles pickep up a total of 14 medals (2 gold, 4 silver and 8 bronze) and took seventh place in unofficial team standings, outpacing Venezuela and Uruguay. Antilles -also known as the West Indies Federation- consisted of three former British colonies in the Caribbean: Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad Tobago. The following year, the West Indies Federation captured a bronze medal when it placed third in the men’s 4 x 400m relay in the Games of the XVII Olympiad in Rome (Italy).