Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sad legacy

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Sometimes your best ain't good enough. It's what we might say to someone who came up short in a race. But at the Olympic Games in London this week, the best ain't good enough is being applied to a record performance by Ye Shiwen of China. The 16-year-old shattered a world record, swimming the 400-metre medley in four minutes, 28.43 seconds on Saturday. Her final 50 metres was faster than the time of American aquatic torpedo Ryan Lochte. It was a flat-out astonishing performance. So astonishing, in fact, it raised doubts about the merits of the accomplishment. Was it too good to be true? Was it cheating?

Stronger, higher, faster is what the Olympics are supposed to be about. But since the 1970s, when "doping" became something of a Games event, the exceptional is as likely to raise eyebrows as cheers. No matter that the exceptional is still fairly achieved -- Usain Bolt of Jamaica shattered three world records at Beijing in 2008, running a distance he had seldom attempted -- the first response it would seem is now to doubt, to ensure cheaters never prosper. That's the sad legacy of the cheaters -- including Canada's own Ben Johnson. By trying to take something they don't deserve, they rob the rest of us of some of our wonder and diminish the achievements of a 16-year-old great.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2012 A6

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