I watched with intrigue at the start of this week as Nike announced they were dropping their sponsorship of Maria Sharapova following her failed drug test.
Nike is the same company who openly sponsor two time convicted drugs cheat Justin Gatlin.
The American sprinter was first banned for two years in 2001 but managed to get that reduced to one year on appeal.
A few years later, in 2006, Gatlin found himself on the end of another ban following another positive test. Gatlin accepted an eight year ban in this case but appealed against the ban and it was reduced to four years.
Gatlin has had plenty of excuses but he has been unrepentant about his drug bans. Even US distance runner Alysia Montano agrees that Gatlin (and Tyson Gay) should not be allowed to compete at the Olympics or represent the USA.
When asked if she believed they should be allowed to run Montano said “No. I don’t think so at all. As a US athlete I know ‘Support your team-mates’ and that. But my team-mates are clean athletes.”
In the press conference she further dismissed Gatlin and Gay’s reasons for why the drugs were in their system. Montano told reporters at the US Olympic team media summit “Excuses are like — well, you know what the saying is. Everyone’s got one. I think you are 100 percent held accountable for what you put in your body. You can’t say ‘Oh someone gave me a massage’ or ‘Oh I didn’t know’. They have a list of what you can and cannot take. These people just want to play the naive card and we’re too old for that. We’re not in pre-school. Sorry. … I don’t care if that’s a bold statement, it’s true.”
One has to admire Montano’s stance.
Gatlin on the other hand is still the poster boy for Nike and remains unrepentant and unapologetic over his drug bans.
Nike is showing obvious double standards by dropping one professional sportsperson for failing a drug test while rewarding another with a lucrative contract.
But Alysia Montano’s comments give me hope that there are clean athletes out there still fighting the good fight to clean up athletics.