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Race Against Me: My Story Paperback – 10 Jun 2009
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I have read several athlete's biographies, and most give an obligatory mention or idealistic speech on drugs within the sport. I knew, based on Dwain's full and frank admissions around the time of his positive test, that this book would delve fully into the greedy, organised, and ultimately pitiful world of performancing enhancing 'pharmacology'.
The book doesn't waste much time in getting to Chambers' period of running under the influence. I was startled - and gripped - on many occasions by how honest and detailed Chambers was in explaining not only his own drug use, but the involvement of both Victor Conte and his Ukranian coach, and other athletes participation in the BALCO-produced supplements. It was alarming to see just what Chambers and others were taking, combined with the regimen involved, and the levels of consumption. Chambers also reveals side-effects, and how one can spot drug-users by their physique (more detailed than it sounds), their ailments and most sickeningly of all, their tricks to avoid random testing out-of-competition. The book also clearly puts to bed the common misconceptions of drug use - most notably, that the bulk of ingestion is not done within competitive events but actually during the off-season (when testing is at it's least vigilant - or at least this was the case in 2009), and the distinction between drugs that enhance training and stamina with those used as stimulants.
Chambers may at times veer into a little bit of a victim mentality, but then each time he does very quickly assume full responsibility of his own actions. However, despite his much publicised drug use, it is apparent that he HAS been treated unfairly - particularly when one considers the other UK athletes in the fold (both past and present) who have had similar bans overturned, and coaches who have freely administered drug usage in the old Eastern Block who are now part of the UK set-up. I did, despite not having any particular allegiance to Dwain Chambers, feel very sorry for him while reading this book - Dwain himself states effectively that he could cope with bans and punishment if it was equal across the board within the UK association - but it is far from equal and at times, laughably hypocritical.
For me though, as an athletics fan, the book had other significant ramifications. I realised, that as far back as Carl Lewis, The only 100m sprint Olympic champions to not be implicated in drug usage are Donovan Bailey and Usain Bolt - Lewis, Johnson, Greene, Montgomery, Christie and Gatlin have all been tainted to varying degrees. And the problem now for me, as someone who loves athletics, is that it is all too obvious just how flooded the sport is with drugs, because of how this book examines the frankly overwhelming evidence to support this view.
I found the book largely inspirational - Chambers may not have won any Olympic golds, but his perseverance against repeated disappointments both on and off the track is worthy of serious respect. Some of course will say Chambers has got his just deserts, but I disagree - he has served his ban, he was honest and co-operative about his use (as opposed to the old cold-medicine excuses etc.) and has tried to simply get what other athletes in similar situations have been allowed in the past, namely forgiveness and the chance to run clean.
A really good book, and a must for anyone who really wants to know what goes on in the sport.
There used to be a time (probably not so long ago in the grand scheme of things) where sport was and seemed enjoyable to those who took part in it an elite level. Very often these days you seem to get the impression that this doesn't always seem to be the case. The 'fun' factor being replaced by increasing levels of expectation and pressure. 'Can you handle it?'
Sport wasn't always seen as a viable profession, many youngsters who enjoyed and were talented, were often 'advised' (but more or less told) to 'get a proper job'. In more recent times however, with more glamourised life & media coverage, along with the vast rewards on offer from several potential income streams this outlook has changed. The pressures of and demands for success have also changed. What with having to meet sponsors clauses, gaining & keeping lottery funding (if applicable) bonuses & + + +, the outlook on sport and the risks that those involved will take has inevitably increased. In team sports, certain actions are JUSTIFIED as 'taking one for the team', 'intentional' handballs in football for example, as well as players feigning & exaggerating 'hurt' to get opposing players and fellow professional sent off, diving etc. All to gain an advantage. Dwain Chambers sought to gain an advantage or 'catch up', depending on how you view it.
Read this book!
I'm not saying that everything stated in the book is to be agreed with. Brother Dwain was foolish (some may say foolish only coz he got caught) of that there's no doubt. Down by law! And not particularly by the legal system alone. The BOA perhaps? Who seem to have a mandate or statute that they seem to be able to adjust at will. He's probably the most high profile UK based case of this kind, however, he's hardly unique. What is unique, is that he didn't make any lightweight excuses, he held his hands up and admitted to his wrongdoing and past behaviours and taken the expected punishment as well as the unexpected and added extras that have come along with it.
If you want an honest point of view as to what goes in in the 'clean' world athletics and sport in general, approach with an open mind and take a read of this book. In my humble opinion, I think it's one of the best sports autobiographies, simply because of it's brutal honesty, the bravery of the man to put something like this out when you know the power brokers are watching and to keep performing as well as producing results while those with influence continue to try and rain down a ton of continuous s**t!
You can cast your own minds on where the problem lies with the expectations and ultimate governance of those participating in certain sports in the modern era.
Nice One Mr Chambers. Nice One!
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As someone that enjoys watching athletics especially sprint runners I was interested in reading this.Read more