It’s the day after the closing ceremony of the infamous IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, and Britain is still a legitimate member of the global athletics community.
Why? Why wasn’t UK Athletics given the boot immediately after the shameful events of August 5?
I’m referring of course to the mistreatment of Justin Gatlin, the American 100-metre dash champion. While it’s true that Gatlin has been temporarily banned for a drug offence, no commentator in his or her right mind can seriously believe that Gatlin’s pharmacy bill would be (or would have been) vastly different from that of his opponents.
Yet the morose audience repeatedly booed and whistled at Gatlin; the British media behaved in an equally undignified manner; and the British head of the IAAF happily added fuel to the fire. ‘People are welcome to boo,’ Sebastian Coe chose to opine.
The British hypocrisy is not only distasteful; it is also of ancient origin. Remember the first sub-four-minute miler Roger Bannister? Amidst intensive speculation over milers using ‘pep pills’ in the 1950s, the Oxford-trained physician (!) claimed to know absolutely nothing about performance-enhancing drugs.
Seb Coe’s track credibility is just about as low as Bannister’s. If fairness, decency, civility and other high-minded concepts still apply to athletics, UK Athletics would be banned from international competition and no British city would be allowed to host international track meets for a decade or two.