I can say, without a doubt, that for me, the most exciting moment of the 2012 London Olympic Games was the final 3 laps of the Men’s 10,000 meters final.
As the final laps of the race began, Alberto Salazar’s protege, Galen Rupp, a 26 year old American was still hanging in with the older, more experienced, Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. Rupp patiently held his position in the middle of the lead pack for another 2.5 laps; and then, with 200 meters left in the race, he unleashed a perfectly timed finishing kick and surged past everyone except his friend and training partner Mo Farah. Farah won the gold medal and Rupp won the silver medal.
Rupp’s silver medal was the first medal won by an American in the 10,000 meters in 48 years. The moment that Galen Rupp crossed the finish line in second place, he instantly changed the dialogue about the ability of a native born American runner being able to compete against the best distance runners in the World. For the first time in decades, the future of American distance running looked bright.
Unfortunately, the hope of a bright future that Galen Rupp brought to American distance running began to dim all to soon. On June 3rd, 2015 a report surfaced that accused Alberto Salazar of giving the runners that he coached, including Galen Rupp, performance enhancing drugs.
On June 12th, a little over a week after the allegations of Salazar using blood doping and performance enhancing drugs with his athletes, more athletes came forward with allegations against Salazar.
Farah immediately flew to the Oregon to confront his coach about the allegations. Unsatisfied with Salazar’s answers and wanting to distance himself from his association with Salazar, Farah fired his coach immediately. Rupp, never made a public statement and has continued to train under Salazar.
Seven months later, on February 13, 2016, Galen Rupp, won the Olympic Marathon trials in his first marathon.
I wanted to be as ecstatic as I was 4 years earlier when Rupp won the silver medal in London, however, I found myself dismissing Rupp’s accomplishment as tainted and declaring 41 year old Meb Keflezghi, the second place finisher, the true winner of the 2016 Olympic marathon trials. None of the allegations against Salazar and Rupp have been proven to be true, however, I have been burned too many times by believing in athletes who declare that they are clean (here’s looking at you Lance Armstrong).
So, on this, the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, I ask all of you runners out there, should we cheer for Galen Rupp in Rio? Can we trust that he has never taken performance enhancing drugs? Is it really cheating if everyone else in the field is cheating too? I would love to hear your thoughts.
As for me, I will be cheering for Meb to run off into the sunset of his running career by claiming his second Olympic marathon medal.