Who is a more admirable athlete? Lance Armstrong who won several Tour de France bicycle races by doping? Or Mirsada Buric who went to the 1992 Olympics shortly after surviving captivity in a concentration camp?
Ms. Buric, representing Bosnia, did not win. But as it turns out, neither did Mr. Armstrong now that he’s been stripped of his victories.
Plenty of pampered athletes make it big, but how many concentration camp survivors even get to compete at a top level?
Ms. Buric is now a financial services advisor at BBVA Compass bank in Prescott, Ariz. She told me about her improbable life in an in a long telephone interview.
After being released from a concentration camp in Bosnia, she was selected to represent her country in the 1992 Olympics. She barely had food to eat, or shoes to wear, let alone expensive drugs, yet she was selected for doping tests.
“Here I am from this war zone. I didn’t even have normal nutrition, normal food to eat, and I’m selected for a doping control? I mean, how ironic is that?”
Doping, she learned, was a big part of the game.
“It’s not a matter of whether you are using, it’s a matter of not getting caught,” she said. “It boils down to your conscience. If you can live with yourself as a cheater then you go with it. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself that way.
“It taints the whole sport for athletes who are not cheaters.”
Nike had to let Mr. Armstrong go. It would have fared better with this lessor-known hero.
Click here to read my column on Ms. Buric.