What has happened to our athletes?
The Ben Johnson incident is only the latest case in an increasing number of alarming events involving Olympic and professional athletes and the use of steroids, cocaine and other controlled substances.
The athletes who use these drugs jeopardize their own careers, not to mention their lives. It is indeed unfortunate that Ben Johnson, who was once briefly at the top, just as swiftly hit rock bottom.
The fastest man in the world has stopped dead in his tracks. He craved the thrill of victory but found only the agony of embarrassing defeat.
O, Canada, you've already lost one revered athlete in Wayne Gretzky, and your must now share the shame of your Olympic star surrendering his gold medal in the 100-meter dash, a world record accomplishment tarnished because of steroids. All your efforts to sponsor your athlete seem worthless. You have a right to be dismayed.
Americans, too, have also grown impatient with the use of drugs not only in Olympic competition but in professional sports. It was only recently that Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants admitted he was addicted to cocaine, that over a year ago the New York Mets' Dwight Gooden entered rehabilitation for a drug problem, that Brian Bosworth was ineligible to play for Oklahoma in the 1987 Orange Bowl because he tested positive for steroids. Even entire teams, the Pheonix Suns, for example, have been the subject of drug-related investigations.
The list goes on. Keith Hernandez, Michael Ray Richardson, Alan Wiggins, John Lucas, Gary MacLain. A veritable Hall of Shame.
And a final note. Don Rodgers of the Cleveland Browns and the Celtic's Len Bias--both dead from cocaine overdose.
The Time is Now
Athletes, your public is becoming indignant. Clean it up soon. No, clean it now.
You are potential role models, especially for our children. It would be a travesty to see young athletes train and use steroids to emulate their perceived heroes. The current ad campaigns are trying to say no to drugs. A very significant reponsibility falls upon you to set an example for those who look up to you.
Your pictures are on cereal boxes. Your faces cover the magazines. You perform in front of millions of television viewers every weekend. You endorse not only athletic equipment but also clothing and footwear.
Face it, athletes, you are a part of our society. It's not worth it to take drugs to gain an edge on the competition. The adverse physical and psychological effects of steroids and cocaine cannot be stressed enough.
The International Olympic Committee should be applauded for its swift action in dealing with Ben Johnson and others who have violated the rules on steroids. Hopefully, the NFL, major league baseball, the NBA and the NCAA will deal with subsequent incidents in similar fashion.
One last word to our athletes. Plain and simple: don't do it. Don't attempt to beat the system. You will only hurt yourselves and the people who look up to you.
It's just not worth it.