Viewpoint: Quick Thoughts On A Subject About Which I Know Little

Take note – story published 8 years ago

It's about time I wrote another Viewpoint piece. I know this because the things the editor-in-chief throws at me across the office have been getting heavier.

It starts with rolled up pieces of paper, then proceeds though spitballs, small candies and pieces of stationery until there is a serious danger electronic equipment will soon be winging its way into the back of my head.

The trouble is it's hard to write about anything but the Paris terrorist attacks and as everyone from sports commentators to fashion pundits have already presented us with millions of words on those tragic events, I must write about something else.

It's a shame, as I am a bit of a Francophile, have visited the country many times and even have a degree in French literature having produced a thesis about Jean-Baptiste Peres' Grand Erratum. So I know a tiny bit about France.

However, to claim that qualifies me to write in a pontificating manner about the slaughter and What It Means To Us would be ludicrous and, in a way, quite offensive.

I would probably jump to all sorts of wrong conclusions and offer arguments that are gross simplifications, mixed with assumptions based on my own limited world view. Better to shut up - or at least wait until the facts are known - than to furnish the world with such half-baked guff.

But because everyone else is writing about terrorism, geopolitics, Islamism, immigration and so on, the field is wide open for me to write about fashion or sport, even though I freely admit I don't know what I am talking about on either subject.

I've decided to opt for sport because unless you want to know something about tweed or what 'welts' are in shoes, I will not be able to bluff my way in fashion. 

Admittedly my knowledge of sports is also pretty sketchy and mostly concerns cricket and rugby. Not a lot of use in Latvia where hockey dominates and basketball, soccer and something called 'handball' (which I am not sure even really exists) are quite popular, according to a man I just asked.

Luckily there is one massive story in the sporting press that I can latch onto like some sort of news leech.

It seems pretty much everyone with a tracksuit in Russia is on performance enhancing drugs according to a damning report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) - and that's a heck of a lot of people as tracksuits are extremely popular there.

Russia tracksuits are quite popular here in Latvia, too, but that might make another Viewpoint piece at a later date if I do decide to try my hand at fashion writing.

Until I just looked it up on Wikipedia, I thought WADA stood for 'World Athletics Doping Agency'. So it's a good job I checked, otherwise I would have been implying its purpose was to hand out drugs - exactly the opposite of its real purpose.

That just shows how important it is as a journalist to check your facts and do some research before you leap into print like some runaway rodeo bull. But I have no more time to do additional research that would allow me to offer informed opinion so from here on I am way out of my depth.

Now I'm no expert - as I have repeatedly told you already - but I think athletes taking drugs is bad. Not just bad, but really, really bad.

Athletes shouldn't use performance enhancing drugs. I'm 90% confident to say that, even in this subject which totally bemuses me.

After all, it's illegal, unfair and I am willing to bet probably injurious to the health of the athletes, even though I have no medical expertise whatsoever and cannot name any of the drugs they take or tell you precisely what physiological effects they produce .

Isn't one called HBO? They run faster or throw things further or maybe hold their breath longer. They get caught when they pee.

All right-thinking people will back me up on this even though I have at best a rudimentary grasp of the factors involved: don't take performance enhancing drugs!

Luckily, right now this is all happening in Russia, not here. But it could happen here. Not that I am saying it is likely. I find it hard to believe Latvian athletes would cheat. But as I keep telling you, I have minimal comprehension of the subject matter, so I will stick to generalities.

I suppose it's possible some Russian athletes don't cheat either, but that's pure speculation.

Now the bit about What It Means To Us. It means we should be united on not tolerating athletes who are able to jump higher than they should because they inject, inhale or, most probably, swallow things they should not.

We must get really serious about this for at least a week or two until the sports journalists have returned to the sports section and the fashion journalists have returned to the fashion section, at which point they will fill you in on the full details of this topic and tell you which shoes go with which winter coats.

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