Is Clarence Kennedy RIGHT About Anti-Doping?
In the very recent past, Clarence Kennedy has started talking about why anti-doping should not actually happen. Seb from Weightlifting House weighed in with his opinion as well. Both guys did a solid job of presenting their arguments, keeping it civil, and providing discourse on the topic.
This is a long-term process on how we can optimize and handle doping in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Clarence, in his position and filter, is essentially saying for the sport of Olympic weightlifting, and all sports for that matter, to be fairer that doping should be legal. Doping should not have any punishment tied to it. Weighlifting House says doping should be illegal.
We have our opinions as well. We want to weigh in. Being that Garage Strength has athletes who have competed at the world championship level in multiple sports and have medaled, beating athletes who have tested positive, we think we have some reasonable opinions to offer.
It Creates An Unlevel Playing Field
One of the first things Clarence brings up is Balko. The company, a private entity, was essentially responsible for Barry Bonds. In our opinion, the Balko scandal is the lynchpin for demonizing PED use, particularly in the United States. Americans tend to see drug usage as bad, associating the usage of PED’s with Russia and East Germany; think of it as a cultural war type of thing.
But even more than the cultural war mindset, United States residents seem to get annoyed much more with the idea of cheating, being lied to, and the idea of being duped. For example, Marion Jones comes to mind. U.S. citizens wanted to see her win all these medals but ended up labeling her a cheater and felt let down.
Clarence goes on to make the point about designer steroids. That countries investing in these programs are experiencing tremendous success. This is valid. We believe this goes back to the system and doesn’t mean that all countries are going to do that or that there is no way from preventing that from happening. Maybe we can start treating doping the same way we treat nuclear weaponry. WADA needs to step up their game here.
It is important to understand, especially specific to weightlifting, getting access to testosterone in certain countries is pretty easy. One of the most potent anabolics is testosterone. Testosterone is extremely cheap, easy to get, and is also pretty safe. Nandrolone, a drug used for joint integrity, is pretty cheap and pretty safe. Doctors will prescribe these two to patients as anti-aging supplements. We agree with Clarence here because the drugs that will end up being utilized are accessible.
Discussing Children And Teenagers
We are talking about parents here. In some countries, parents don’t have a say based on where the child gets placed within the countries sporting programs. The general argument being made here by Seb has to do with the long-term health of children.
In the United States, one of the most participated sports is American Football. It is the most dangerous and most horrible sport for brain development. It is incredibly violent and leads to brain scarring. Parents at times are more concerned about the success of their child than about their health. Hate to admit it, some parents just don’t care about long-term health. They’d gladly sign their children up and have them ingest PED’s to potentially compete at the highest levels.
What is the romanticizing of sport specifically, Seb? Is it not fair for the non-PED user to compete against the PED user? Or is it the never-ending story of the athlete who keeps grinding until they conquer their dreams and become a champion?
The root of all of these problems is that the overwatch committee, the government agencies tasked with policing this, the leaders, have been the problem, especially with weightlifting. The corruption goes deep. But just throwing in the towel and saying everyone should be on the gas? We can’t get behind that. Addressing the corruption needs to occur. Giving up because the corruption is so entrenched is defeatist. If anything, we need some watchmen watching the watchers.
Countries that don’t allow drug testers in to test athletes need to be addressed. This is a solid point that Clarence makes.
This is where we think Clarence’s argument gets weak. Talking about the modern athlete being weak and not wanting to max out is just not the case. We have a sports performance gym that is filled six days a week with athletes of all ages and skill levels who just work, work, work, work, crushing themselves and hammering massive amount of weight. Yea, some people are soft but declaring the effort was that much better back then is lame. Like, dude, really?
Drugs have a huge impact. Acknowledge it, own it, and no need to make man yell at cloud argument about the kids today.
Seb makes the point that PED’s should not be illegal for the general public. Clarence believes anti-doping in sport demonizes PEDs. We disagree. We believe it is the idea of cheating that people get the audience upset. The act of cheating gets people upset. But it also sets off a redemption arc for athletes coming back from a positive test.
People on drugs aren’t bad people. Society has matured tremendously when it comes to the discussion of drugs. Society understands the troubles opiates cause but sees that drugs like marijuana don’t have the same stigma.
Heck, look at a guy like Klokov who is making bank being gassed-up lifting on social media, traveling the world, and holding seminars. It is paying off for the guy. He isn’t the only one like this out there either. Clarence himself is benefitting from such actions.
Kate Nye won a world championship. CJ Cummings competes with the best. Weightlifting in the USA is young. Young children are starting to adopt the sport at a younger age. Wait and see a decade or two down the line and see what happens. The system isn’t as broken as Clarence makes it out to be.
There are guys setting world records in today’s generation who are clean and testing clean. Anti-doping needs to be fair. It boils down to what is WADA doing to create more efficient and fair testing. The athletes want to win and the athletes are realizing that they can compete clean. They feel better about their accomplishments competing clean and succeeding. That is just the spirit of sport.
To address this we need to fix the system. There is a lot of problems, especially in Olympic weightlifting, that have been embedded for decades. The IOC needs to move WADA into a country that has its act together to make it better funded and more effective. We also recommend not letting countries compete who won’t let agencies in to test the athletes. Regarding designer drugs, there needs to be detective work to investigate the areas with their nose to the grindstone looking for these locations.
Over time, the sport of Olympic weightlifting will get cleaned up. PED’s are being looked at less in a negative light and more in a positive light for the general public, especially when they are used to help HIV patients and people with other health issues.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.