Leading Off: Another poster girl emerges for doping

08/15/2012 12:00 AM

08/20/2012 9:15 AM

Here's a name that should be painted on the entrance of every gym, weight room and playing field where serious athletes train and play: Nadzeya Ostapchuk.

She is the shot putter from Belarus who won the women's gold medal in London before having that sublime emblem of athletic achievement taken from her.

Ostapchuk is the latest cheater to be unmasked, found to have used steroids to help her defeat all comers on the world's biggest sports stage.

If you need an argument against the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in any arena, she's your girl. Though many rationalize that PEDs are widely used, that sports at the highest levels are hardcore affairs which only the strong survive, and who does it hurt anyway? – here's the reality: Olympic medalists such as Ostapchuk, Ben Johnson, Marion Jones and any number of old communist-bloc lifters and throwers muscled past athletes who played it clean. Every tainted medalist pushed somebody else aside; each drug user who made the team kept another hopeful off it.

Are the athletes unmasked by testing the only cheaters? Probably not, but there are great athletes out there who reach the highest levels without artificial enhancement. Those are the ones who should get a shot at the medals, fame and, no doubt, the money that comes with winning and its spotlight.

What to watch

Soccer, United States at Mexico, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2: The "friendly" rivalry continues with the U.S. looking for its first win in Mexico in 24 tries.

Today's poll

How much does use of performance-enhancing drugs bother you?

A lot. It's unfair.

Some. Places sports in a bad light

Not at all. It's the real world.

Vote above or leave your comments in the comment field; or, go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Tuesday's results

Has your opinion of LeBron James changed this summer?

I've always been a fan: 32%

Yes, I'm a fan now: 12%

No, I still don't like him: 56%

Total votes: 282

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