"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."—Buddha.
Lance Armstrong, the most tested athlete in the history of sports, has been caught by USADA and turned in by his teammates, and the evidence that he doped his way to seven Tour De France titles is overwhelming. What's remarkable about this story is that Lance had not tested positive even once, until now. The United States Anti-Doping Agency finely developed a test that could detect minute levels of plastids in his old blood samples which are a marker for doping. It all makes sense now, Lance was superhuman and we wanted to believe that he got that way with superhuman determination as a result of conquering cancer. Alas, he simply cheated.
Baseball players were hitting 70-plus home runs a few years ago, and we now know why that quantum performance leap happened. Players are now back to hitting under 50 home runs a year.
When I see tennis players like Nadal, Djokovic, Serena and Stosur performing superhuman feats of strength and endurance on the court, I'd like to believe it's because they are more dedicated athletes than Lance Armstrong, but common sense and recent historical perspective tells me to be skeptical.
The current vogue explanation for the performance of many tennis players' enhancement is that great strides can be made by cutting wheat from your diet.
Well, the Immortal Hulk Hogan once said that his body was the result of "Training, saying his prayers and eating his vitamins."
Steven Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.