OPINION: Athletes should be ‘locked up together’ before comp

AS THE world readies itself for another Olympic Games, a lot of questions are being asked; the one uppermost in many people's minds is should they go ahead in Rio or be postponed - or even held elsewhere. The Zika virus is the primary concern, but there are many other issues that have officials squirming.

It makes little difference to me if they are held or not - apart from the very real risk of being on the receiving end of another mosquito-borne illness (having contracted Ross River fever a few years ago).

Otherwise I won't notice as I have absolutely no interest in spectator sport, at all. I don't discriminate; I ignore Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the Bledisloe Cup and the Olympics. I didn't even watch the Sydney Games back in 2000.

I believe (and feel free to disagree - most of my friends and family do) that if one isn't doing an activity for fitness, fun, a sense of pride at winning or for the sheer pleasure of it, but for financial gain; and if one is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that boost to the wallet, then it's just not cricket. Ahem.

The human body has just about reached its the pinnacle of physical capabilities. We can't go much faster, higher, deeper or farther without some sort of intervention.

Therefore, we now have "fast" pools, swimsuits that are technological marvels, and bicycles made from materials I can't even pronounce, let alone afford. Athletes shave their heads and bodies and, of course, more than a few inject themselves with substances that give them an edge over their rivals.

Some of these substances are legal; an awful lot are not. They use blood enhancers, hormones, steroids, vitamins and things you'd give a sick horse.

The trick seems to be getting the right advice; not as to what they should or shouldn't be using, but at what point they need to stop using the substance in order to not have it detected when they pee in a cup.

My theory (that has sparked a few debates of late over dinner tables) is that for a competition to be truly fair and a genuine measure of an athlete's skill and endurance, they should all be locked up together for a few months before a competition, fed the same diet, have the same training regime, and use the same equipment. I've been told that not all shoes, for example, suit all runners; some perform best in, say Nike; others in Adidas or Saucony. Fine, then; use a different brand every year, but everybody should have the same type of shoe. That way, athletes from poorer nations aren't at a disadvantage.

I think it's going to be a long two weeks.