A spokesman for British Athletics and the International Olympic Committee read a prepared statement to a room full of journalists. “For many years now we’ve been waging a war against performance enhancing drugs, but, to be honest, it’s a war we’re never going to win. As soon as we’re able to test for one drug, a new one appears on the streets. The dealers and fixers are always one step ahead. We can’t keep up.
“So we’ve decided, instead, on a more pragmatic approach that we hope will keep everybody happy. After all, anyone who says that drugs and sport don’t mix has obviously never smoked a joint while watching synchronised swimming. And if a cyclist wasn’t on drugs, why would he even think about putting his body through purgatory on the Tour de France? It’s like cycling while running a mobile dispensary.
“If winning is all that matters, and we’re always being told it is, then why not let competitors take whatever drugs, steroids and hormones they want in order to gain an advantage. Fair? Unfair? It doesn’t really matter any more. There are dangers attached to drug-taking, of course. But on the whole we think drug-taking should be out in the open, not hidden away. With this in mind we shall be running two Olympics, side-by-side: one ‘drug-free’, the other ‘drug-enabled’.
“In drug-free events we shall just test the winners. After all, why pillory athletes who take drugs and come last? They’re in enough trouble as it is: not just crap at their chosen sport, but crap at taking performance enhancing drugs too. It’s just plain humiliating for an athlete to be banned for proscribed substances after he’s limped home in 14th place.
“In drug-enabled events, anything goes... from a couple of asprin to a bucket-load of horse tranquilisers. Athletes will be drug-tested before their events and, if no drugs are found in their system, will be given 15 minutes to rectify the situation. They will decide for themselves what constitutes a performance enhancing amount, and what might be a life-threatening overdose. We merely insist that athletes should be alive - and preferably conscious - when they collect their medals. In no circumstances will prizes be awarded posthumously.
“We would like to dedicate this new initiative to an unsung casualty of an earlier - and less enlightened - sporting era. Tamara Press, a burly female Russian shot-putter, was arrested in Carnaby Street in 1967 for stealing a jock-strap. She may have won medals 30 years ago, but a lifetime of Soviet-endorsed steroid abuse left the athlete beaten and broken: a sadder and wiser man.