When Nelly woke up that morning, she only wanted to train. She was running a marathon in only two weeks and she needed to be ready to face off against so many other women that were coming into the city to participate. She wanted to be the best and for her city and country to be recognized everywhere in the world. She had begun training only recently but had been a runner for all of her life. She had won several tournaments and contests around the world. She even had a bronze medal from the Olympic games, her proudest achievement. Now, she was a little bit older and she knew she couldn’t be as good as the younger ladies but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be outstanding. She was ready to show the world, one more time, what she was made of.
But that morning, when she stepped into the field to practice, she overheard two people in the locker room. She was going to leave her things there and put on her running shoes but as soon as she heard people inside she stopped. She had no idea why because normally she would’ve just come in but she didn’t. Instead, she heard everything about a medicine, some sort of shot, which a very well known athlete was taking to stay fit for the marathon. The two people were discussing bringing the medicine from another country and how they would do that. Apparently, the substance was not legal. They also said that the athlete needed to prepare herself for an upcoming anti-doping test.
Then, Nelly heard movement so she silently walked back to the entrance and just pretended to be arriving. The two men inside the locker room came out and Nelly almost yelled when she saw who they were: a man working for the federation of athletics and her own personal trainer. For a moment, she stopped walking because she felt so overwhelmed but then she kept moving and greeted both men. The one from the federation left shortly after and her trainer told her to hit the locker room to prepare. As she put on her shoes, she thought about how disappointed she felt. She knew her trainer coached other women but not that he used forbidden substances to make them win. She had to do something about it but didn’t know what.
The training session went as usual. She warmed up first and then practiced by jogging around the stadium several times. Her trainer would correct her several times and would show her on a map the several road features along the way of the marathon. But the truth was that she couldn’t be totally focused on what he was saying or on what she was doing. What she had heard was too serious. After all, an athlete couldn’t know about anti-doping tests because the point was for them to be a surprise and check the real current state of an athlete. They were cheating, probably to make her stay clean until they had to test her and then they could give her whatever substance she was taking.
When training was over, her coach was willing to take her home but Nelly told him that she was going to meet a friend nearby for lunch. This was true and she couldn’t be happier that it was. Her friend wasn’t part of the sports world but she was a very pragmatic and effective friend who worked for the ministry of culture. Her name was Grace and she was waiting in the restaurant when Nelly arrived. She excused herself but Grace told her she was actually early because of her work. Apparently, everything related to a ballet performance coming from Ukraine had gone great and her presence was not needed anymore. So Nelly sat down and told Grace everything, not even breathing properly to stop. She finished by saying she had never witnessed anything like that.
Grace told her she had seen a documentary about something like that but that it happened in poor countries, where people needed to win because of the amount of money that moves around in those types of competitions but she wasn’t surprised that it happened there either. She then asked Nelly what she was going to do about it but Nelly just couldn’t answer that question. She was worried because anything that she said would be very bad for her trainer but she felt a responsibility to do something. After all, she had been running for at almost twenty years and she had always been clean. For her, it was awful what some people did to stay on top.
Her friend told her that the best she could do was to investigate more about the two guys. If they were cheating it couldn’t be the first time so many other people may be in it and some would even be willing to tell the truth. Grace told her that she would investigate with people in the ministry of sports, who had been created some years ago, specifically to deal with all of these issues. She knew a couple of people there and they might be able to tell her more. Nelly thanked her and they then had a very nice lunch, discussing other topics that had nothing to do with sports or culture. They had been best friends since college and they understood each other perfectly, even to the point where they knew what the other would do or say in some contexts.
Later that evening, Nelly began her investigation online. She found out about small scandals and wrote down some name that would be willing to tell more about what they had seen in the past. She knew that what she was doing was going to put a personal friend, her coach, in the line of fire. She had thought she knew him for all these years but now, she had no idea what to think. But she knew that other athletes, honest like her, didn’t have to put up with cheating of any kind. Training and been ready for any type of sportive event was tough enough and cheating just felt like the worst kind of betrayal.
The next day, Nelly decided to visit a man called Frank Underwood. Several articles pointed at him after he had allegedly denounced corruption in the federation of athletics. Nelly went directly to his house because meeting in any other place would be too dangerous. The man did not know who she was but when she announced her intentions, he rapidly let her in. He was surprised to know she was an athlete and, for whatever reason, he knew who she was and told her she respected her work immensely. Nelly told her she suspected her coach and at least one federation man of corruption and leading athletes to forbidden drugs. The man faintly smiled and told her he had had been thrown out of sports altogether of what he had seen inside of the athletics world.
He told her that he found out how they imported a substance called “tetromizine” into the country. Apparently the procedure was even more difficult to achieve than if they wanted to import marihuana or even alcohol. They would just put it in home appliances like refrigerators and microwaves. Someone in the port would help them get their stash and then a single box would have enough for at least a hundred athletes or more if they knew how to use it. It was, to put it simply, a drug ring and everyone in the federation was involved, from a beginner in the athletic world to the president of the organization. Every point of the pyramid was rotten beyond repair.
Before leaving, the man told Nelly to have proof before saying anything. He didn’t want her to live through the hell he had lived some years earlier. She took her advised and begun investigating harder, even to the point when she was really letting go of the training for the marathon. Her coach asked her several times what was going on and she always had an answer, namely something related with the female anatomy. But the truth was she was getting closer to what she saw as the truth. Her friend Grace gave her some statistics to work with and the number proved that the athletes had consumed something before some of the events as their blood results were all over the place.
Then, one other morning of training, she heard them again but this time she came ready. She recorded the whole conversation and decided it was time to act. The marathon was only three days away but she needed to do this now. So Nelly went to the police and then to the federation and formally accused both her coach and the man from the federation, called Marcus Fröm of drug trafficking and influencing official sportive events. There a huge scandal, of course, and many people attacked Nelly because of what she had said. She never talked to her trainer again, mainly because he was sent to jail for ten years. The evidence had been to solid to refute.
She participated in the marathon and finished fifth, which she considered to be a triumph. She celebrated with Grace and other friends who praised her for her decision to denounce what was wrong with sports. However, only a year after it all broke out, she decided to leave the world of sports. The pressure from all sides was too much to handle and she wanted to have a peaceful rest of her life. So she retired and started enjoying many other parts of her life she had never explored. She still ran though, because she felt it made her free.