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Drug-Fueled Superstars

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter dash, has tested positive (along with cyclist Floyd Landis) for performance-enhancing drugs. Next we'll learn that Mary Poppins was able to fly because she was using anabolic steroids. This is what our sports world has come to: While only a fraction of competitive athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs, the stars who reach our consciousness are often the ones who seem to be cheating. What is revealing about the drug disclosures is our continued gasps of disbelief each time another name is mentioned in connection with a positive test. When fans hear about these fallen "heroes," it's not that they can't handle the truth; it's that they have a hard time handling the evolving reality that our sports stars can no longer carry the burden of our expectations.

William C. Rhoden [7/31/06]