Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Ostracisation of Michelle de Bruin

The advent of the London Olympics has highlighted again the shoddy treatment of Michelle de Bruin by the Irish media and the Irish sporting establishment. The campaign of vilification and the subsequent ostracisation was led by camogie-loving Tom Humpheries, late of the Irish Times. Some may question his right to occupy any elevated moral ground.  Humpheries was joined by Paul Kimmage whose indignant righteousness on all matters drug-related preclude taking anything he says very seriously - perhaps he is bitter about his mediocre, but drug-free, cycling career.

Here's what I think.  For a lengthy period -  maybe up to eight years ago - the majority of Olympic athletes were chemically enhanced in one way or another.  In some cases it may have been blood doping rather than chemicals.  In that famous Olympic final that Ben Jonson won, and subsequently lost, it was later established that the majority of the field had taken drugs of some kind. Recent Olympics have seen remarkable improvement in at least one British female athlete without any subsequent innuendo - apart from the odd whisper on sporting blogs. In the swimming arena the changing shape of female swimmers in the last thirty years suggested something more than hard graft.  As my mother used to say, they were all at it.  Closer to home our sainted cyclists Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche have both been exposed to more than suspicions about drug use, without the attendant boycotting suffered by de Bruin.

I was delighted to see a prominent figure like Eamonn Coghlan sticking up for her in a recent article in the Irish Times: