SPORTS LETTERS

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The Independent Online
From Mr A Rose

Like the MP for Leeds Central, I too watched the Headingley Test match from the Western Terrace, albeit on "well-behaved" Friday - your correspondent's description of the second-day crowd. Any suggestion that this section of the ground was a hot-bed of racist unrest is far removed from the truth.

Two things seemed to charge the atmosphere and upset the stewards: alcohol and, curiously, Mexican waving. The chief wave-raiser was summarily ejected from the ground for his antics and the bar closed to punish his waving minions.

As far the alcohol abuse goes, the Test and County Cricket Board clearly wants to have its pint and drink it. The most striking motif on the advertising hoardings and on the England players' shirts was for Tetley Bitter. With this overt encouragement to drink the sponsor's brew coupled with the bar opening even before the start of play, what atmosphere were they really expecting? Maybe the TCCB officials should be sponsored by Virgin for their extreme naivety.

ANDREW ROSE

Hellifield, North Yorks

From Mr M Fox

You report [Olympic athletes face ban, 6 August] that only two track and field athletes in Atlanta have been caught using steroids. Does anyone in the International Olympic Committee seriously imagine that this comes within a million miles of indicating the truth about drug use at the Olympics?

The difference between gold and nowhere in some Olympic track events can be measured in tenths of a second. For the average athlete, that's the difference between wealth, fame and the adulation of his contemporaries, and a lifetime of anonymity. I must say, if I were 40 years younger and blessed with athletic ability, I might well have a shot at the old stanozolol myself, particularly if I were convinced that my rivals were on the stuff. What your report suggests to me is that drug testing is merely cosmetic; a device to convince the public the sport is clean.

It's time the media and the authorities admitted that: a) the huge rewards now available to top athletes make drug use inevitable; and b) the tests are only catching a small fraction of the culprits. What the IOC ought to do, if they want to avoid accusations of large-scale hypocrisy, is make the use of drugs permissible. Although whether Britain would excel in that kind of contest is open to question.

MIKE FOX

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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