bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Marathon runner fails doping test

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A lot of Bad Sports stories amuse me. Some disgust me, while others make me shake my head in amazement, but it is the funny ones that really motivate me to write. Occasionally, though, there is a story that truly makes me sad. Not sad in the way that I’d be when someone on one of my teams does something stupid and gets suspended for it, but sad in a real way. One of those happened this week. Rita Jeptoo, the winner of the last two Chicago Marathons as well as this year’s Boston Marathon, failed a doping test back in September. The news just came out this week, just as she was about to collect the World Marathon Majors title on Sunday.

Now I don’t know Rita, of course. I first became aware of her when I watched the Boston Marathon earlier this year. She amazed me with her performance, getting stronger the longer the race went. It was her second Boston title in a row and third overall. Her win this year set a new course record for a female runner, and was the fastest winning time on any course for the Kenyan. I was really excited when I heard that she would be running the Chicago Marathon this year to defend her title, as I would be running that race as well. I would not be starting anywhere near the front, and this was not an out-and-back course, so I was not going to see her at all at any point. It was simply that I would be running in the same race as her that I found to be very cool.

I finished the race in 3:59:23, finally breaking that four hour barrier on my third try. The fact that Jeptoo finished almost an hour and thirty-five minutes before I did in no way diminished my feeling of accomplishment. I was happy with my run and thrilled that my wife, my mother, and two of my children were able to watch me run, seeing me at five different places along the course and cheering me on wonderfully. Although it happened in the same race, Jeptoo’s finishing time, along with that of Eliud Kipchoge, another Kenyan who was the winning man with a time of 2:04:11, is so far beyond anything I could ever imagine doing that it really does not seem real to me. I just love the fact that people can actually do that, and it inspires my slow self to train even harder.

That is why I am so sad to hear that Jeptoo was cheating. It is likely that a second sample will be tested after her first sample failed, indicating the presence of a doping drug called EPO. The WMM title will not be awarded to her if the second sample fails also, of course. I don’t know what her motivation was to cheat, but I guess we see it in so many different sports, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. There is plenty of money that goes to the best runners in the world, as well as trophies and adulation from the likes of me. I hope the test was somehow a mistake and that she is cleared, but I don’t expect it.

One thing is for sure: I will keep running marathons, and I will do it using my own natural abilities and nothing more. Sure, even the best doping drugs couldn’t have me running anywhere near the pace of someone like Rita Jeptoo anyway, but even if they could, I don’t have it in me to cheat. It would be contrary to the whole reason why I run in the first place.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Julius Randle, the first round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the most recent NBA draft, broke his leg in the team’s season-opening game on Tuesday. He will have surgery and may miss the whole season.

3) The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas on Sunday ended with a big scrum among several teams on pit road after Brad Keselowski hit Jeff Gordon’s car after a late restart, cutting Gordon’s tire and causing him to spin out. Gordon, who was leading, ended up at the back of the lead lap while Jimmie Johnson went on to win. Some punches were thrown amongst a whole lot of yelling and pushing.

4) Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who tore his achilles back in week three against the Philadelphia Eagles and had it subsequently repaired via surgery, tore it again this week when he slipped while getting some pizza in the kitchen of his home. Oops.

5) Devin Davis, a forward for the University of Indiana basketball team, was hit by a car out of which he had just gotten on Saturday. Emmett Holt, his teammate, was behind the wheel. Holt’s blood-alchol content was only 2.5%, but that is high enough to be over the limit for an underage person. Davis is in serious condition with a head injury.

6) Kenny Hill, the Texas A&M quarterback, may want to re-think the nickname he gave himself back in September (“Kenny Trill”). After performing poorly in recent games, he has now been suspended by the team for a violation of team rules. It sounds like he was going to be benched even if he hadn’t been suspended.

7) The Pitt Panthers lost to Duke in overtime on Saturday after their kicker missed a chance to win it in regulation with a very short 26-yard field goal. Why does this rate as Bad Sports? Simply because Pitt’s kicker’s last name is Blewitt. Seriously.

8) In an amazingly bizarre twist of all things reasonable, the NFL team in Washington has sued five Native Americans who filed a petition eight years ago asking that the team’s racial slur of a nickname lose its trademark protection. That’s right…the team is suing them. In a subsequent occurrence of something that seems like Karma, the team’s bus was in a minor accident on the way to its game against the Vikings in Minnesota.

Good sports:

1) The San Francisco Giants won their third World Series title in the last five seasons last week, clinching the championship with a win on Wednesday in game seven over the Kansas City Royals. Pitcher Madison Bumgarner was the series MVP, not only winning both of his starts (game one and game five), but also pitching the final five innings of game seven in relief.

2) There are few things I like better than discord among the Dallas Cowboys. A video taken during Joseph Randle’s recent arrest showed the player complaining about his treatment by badmouthing teammates Dez Bryant and Josh Brent, both of whom have had their scrapes with the law. It seems that Bryant and Brent didn’t take so kindly to the mentions, and some arguments broke out in the locker room that were witnessed by the media.

3) Lauren Hill, a freshman basketball player at Mount St. Joseph’s College in Cincinnati, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor last year. She was determined to play in one game, and that game happened on Sunday against Hiram College. The game had been moved up in hopes that she would be able to play in it. She scored on a layup right at the beginning of the game, which was followed by a standing ovation from the large sellout crowd that was there to see and cheer for her. Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt was on hand to give Hill an award for courage.

4) The football team from Maple Mountain High School in Utah celebrated a win last Tuesday because its players paid attention and knew the rules. Leading with a couple of seconds to go, the quarterback of the opposing team took the final snap, saw the clock run out, and basically stopped scrambling with his back to the defense. Those defensive players, knowing that a football game doesn’t end when the clock runs out if a play is still going, grabbed the ball out of the unsuspecting Spanish Fork player’s hand and ran it in for the winning touchdown.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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