The Olympic Games are one of the world’s most uplifting spectacles. For 16 days, we’ll see something rare: Almost all the world’s nations in agreement, playing the same games by the same rules.
It’s an inspiring, even utopian event. But, increasingly, it’s haunted by an unsettling possibility—that even as athletes from around the world are competing together, they may also be cheating together. At the highest levels of sports, doping is so widespread that, watching the sprinters or swimmers poised on the starting line, it’s hard not to wonder how many have used performance-enhancing drugs. From the Tour de France to the World Series, from the NFL to the NBA, our admiration for the world’s best athletes is increasingly undermined by a single, persistent question: Did they have illegal help, and, if so, how much?