Miller will compete in Olympics, favors legalizing drugs in sports


Miller will compete in Olympics, favors legalizing drugs in sports{mosimage}World Cup champion Bode Miller said on Thursday, Oct. 19, he will race in the Torino Olympics and also took another opportunity to campaign publicly for legalized doping in sports.

The first American man in 22 years to win the overall title, Miller said last season that he was considering retiring and skipping the Olympics because of time-consuming sponsorship obligations, annoying media duties and overwhelming fan attention.

”I’m going to race as of now and I’ve made some progress in that area as far as deciding why and how I’m going to try and make it a positive thing for myself and everyone else,” Miller said at a media gathering on the eve of the men’s and women’s World Cup opening giant slalom races on the Rettenbach glacier.

”I came out of the season really feeling pretty negative about the whole situation and the way I knew I’d be lumped in with other athletes. In the U.S., they have a really result-oriented, ‘Get as many golds as you can’ and ‘We have to get more golds than any other country’ (philosophy). It’s a really unhealthy attitude toward the Olympics and sport in general. It was really irritating for me to know I would be at the forefront of that whole advertising plan in the U.S.

”It was too much of a false representation and too much of a strain on my belief about sport and about the Olympics.”

But a contract with footwear and apparel giant Nike changed his attitude.

”We’ll be doing some pretty cool and unique positive commercials,” he said. ”That was a big step because I needed a forum besides (the media) where I could feel I was making contact with the public and at least getting my ideas out there that although gold medals are great, the Olympics and the Olympic message are still as clear as ever. It’s about the struggle being the most important thing, as opposed to the triumph at the end or the gold.”

Miller also reiterated his belief that doping should be allowed in sports – or that the tolerated levels for banned substances should be raised – saying current anti-doping policies do nothing to protect the health of athletes and does not level the playing field.

”I feel it’s super hypocritical for a drug to be legal for you to buy, but not for an athlete to buy,” said Miller, a favorite for Sunday’s giant slalom. ”Used in a way directed by a doctor or directed by the research that’s out there, even some drugs like EPO could potentially balance the risk of long-term health problems against the potential gains for not injuring yourself.

”When I look at all these professional athletes when they are 50 or 45 years old, they have knees that don’t work at all, shoulders that don’t work, back problems, and I think that that’s a much more common occurrence than a guy who is 40 or 50 who has serious problems because of some steroid he was taking when he was 20.”

The International Ski Federation said it supports the fight against doping.

”For us it’s very clear,” FIS general secretary Sarah Lewis said. ”Our rules are established by experts whose main goal is to protect the health of athletes. They also make sure everyone respects the principle of fair play and the ethics of the sport. FIS supports the fight against doping 100 percent.

”Miller is making more and more declarations on different topics. We aren’t going to react with any great force. Our rules are clear.”

Miller said he has never used performance-enhancing drugs. ”I don’t even use any creatine or vitamins or supplements or anything,” he said. ”The point is that I don’t think it’s a really big deal. I think people should be able to do what they want to do.”

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