• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Beckie Scott: Essential we support and strengthen WADA

      October 7, 2016

      I was four years old when my Mom put me on cross-country skis for the first time in my life. As she tells it, I shuffled around the backyard for a minute or two, then, tearfully threw myself to the ground and demanded to know when we were going in for hot chocolate. My dear Mom propped me back up on my feet, dusted off the snow, and told me to "just keep trying".

      Like the vast sweeping skies and rolling prairie landscape surrounding my little Canadian town, sport - to me - represented an opportunity that seemed endless and full of hope. I revelled in the camaraderie created by the spirit of friendly competition, the community of like-minded individuals I discovered, and the passionate pursuit of excellence.

      I was driven, determined and full of idealistic aspirations. University, financial security, job skills and preparation for life-after-sport passed me by as I kept my sights trained on the ultimate goal and channelled all that I had, all that I was, toward it. My dream was to stand on the top step of the Olympic podium with a medal around my neck, and flag around my shoulders. The rigours of ruthless training, the fatigue of endless travel, the obstacles and adversity; all of it manageable and worthwhile, as long as I could somehow, "just keep trying".

      When I was 27 years old, I won a bronze medal at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. It was the first for Canada in our sport, and a moment of indescribable happiness and pride. Though I was not naive to the risk of doping, I was discomfited to the extreme by the sinister possibility lurking in the shadowy corners of my beautiful sport. More than anything I wanted to believe the playing field was level; that the values I had lived, trained and competed with my entire life, were upheld by all.

      It was not to be. Days after the race, the gold and silver medallists in my event tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and I became an unwitting poster-child for clean sport as the courts twisted in the wind for two years before awarding me Olympic gold. Though I was relieved for it to be finally over, the entire experience was a let-down I could not have imagined. Although I had gained a new medal and title, something much deeper and profoundly more meaningful, had been lost.

      Canada's Beckie Scott was upgraded from bronze to gold in the cross-country skiing 2 x 5km pursuit
      at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games ©Getty Images