First, a summary of throws innovations 8-10:
My № 7 innovation demonstrates that not all change is for the better. Perhaps no innovation would have such far-reaching ramifications to elite throwers of all disciplines, as the beginning of the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). It is not a new concept for people in competition (not just athletics, any business or entertainment industry also looks for a competitive edge) to strive for an advantage over peers. Within throws events, athletes have experimented within the rules by developing new equipment, new techniques and so on. Outside of the rules (cheating), athletes may try to get away with throwing lighter than regulation implements at local meets, using aiding substances (for example, using a sticky substance on the discus throwing hand, sneaking sand into a circle and so on). However, these methods of cheating are relatively simple to identify, and can be easily controlled in major competition.
The use of performance enhancing drugs is an entirely different problem, and this epidemic is by no means an easy fix. Although these substances have undoubtedly contributed to some of the top performances in track and field history, they are ultimately outside of the rules put forward by the IAAF, IOC and WADA. For those who choose to ignore these rules, it has become a billion dollar industry of cat and mouse (of athletes evading testing methods, and testing agencies developing more sophisticated tests to catch the cheaters). Due to the fact it is very difficult to catch PED users, many constraining rules have been placed on current elite throwers (submission to random drug tests, a large portion of athletic funding provided by countries has to go to anti-doping agencies and so on). Ultimately, this has had a devastating impact on the quality of life of elite athletes across all disciplines, and has hurt the sport image.
In the throws events, the athletes do rely on an impressive combination of speed and strength, which can be greatly aided with using PEDs. This has led to a number of high profile athletes using these drugs…and consequently testing positive. Now, there is a public stigma associated with the throws events that most top-level athletes must be taking some substance (which is of course untrue). I ultimately believe this has had a very detrimental impact on our sport…as sponsors will want to distance themselves from supporting ‘cheaters’. Furthermore, young children may be discouraged from taking up the throws events, as it may be believed that it will lead to a life of PED use, or that without PEDs they have no chance of being successful. Ultimately, PEDs have had a massive impact on the Track and Field throws events, but because I do not like to focus on this aspect of the sport, I will only rank it as the number 7 innovation.