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Time For A Different Kind of Olympics

by Stephen Lautens

February 27, 1998

Well, it's over. No more getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Egyptian luge team. No more head-slapping over why Gretzky didn't wasn't one of our final shooters.

Yes, the Olympics have ended, and all that's on at 3 am are exercise machine and juicer commercials.

And as inevitably as spring follows winter, the question of drug testing came up again. For Canada it was a close call with second-hand smoke, and we all held our breath (if you'll pardon the expression) to see if Ross Rebagliati would get to keep his gold.

They finally made the right decision, but the bigger question of drug use remains, and I think it's time to put an end to it once and for all.

I suggest we hold two different Olympics games - one for non-drug users and one where anything goes. And I'm not talking about Silken Lauman's cough drops.

The purists can see how fast and far they can go with only what God and hard work gave them. The others can take any combination of horse steroids, tranquilizers and pineal glands that will get them to the finish line first.

Personally, drugs don't interest me. I have enough trouble with reality. I have about six aspirins a year and faint at the sight of needles. With my allergies, I can barely get air up my nose.

But I think an All-Chemical Olympics would have several advantages. First, everyone would be competing on an even footing - no more Schwarzenegger-looking women from the Peoples' Republic of China wearing a jockstrap. With enough drugs, everyone could look like that.

We'd also finally get to see just how fast a human body can go. Ben Johnson was just the tip of the iceberg. A ten minute gymnastics routine could be completed in a minute and a half. Heck, the whole Olympics could be held in a single afternoon.

And think of the sponsorship opportunities. It could be a pharmaceutical showcase. With the financial backing of the major multinational drug companies, a chemically-enhanced Olympics would pay for itself. Heck, it would probably show a profit if you add in the dispensing fee.

There would be a few drawbacks. For one thing, you probably wouldn't see many athletes returning for the next Olympics. Chances are, most of them would explode shortly after crossing the finish line. It's a little tough to do a McCain's juice commercial from an iron lung.

And it might get boring watching Columbia win every gold medal.

There may be some events that don't lend themselves to performance-enhancing drugs. There isn't much excitement watching a bunch of snowboarders standing at the top of a hill giggling and eating bag after bag of potato chips. And I wouldn't want my ice-dancing partner throwing me thirty feet into the air, and then forgetting about me.

It may even be that some games will have to be forfeited on account of bad vibes. Or the Dream Team could freak out and refuse to leave the bench because the opposing players had turned into snakes.

And of course, the only way to make curling more exciting is if the audience takes drugs.

But hey, no pain, no gain.

After all, when you take away the drugs, all you're left with is talent and skill. And what kind of Olympics would that be?


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