Last weekend, Ryan Shay died during the men’s Olympic Marathon Trials in New York City. He was a hard working young man that everybody liked. He came from a close knit community that has been trying to figure out how they are going to deal with his passing.

Over the past few days, there have been memorial track runs at his old high school as the town tries to cope with his loss. All across the country, runners are participating in their own 5.5 mile memorial run for him.

And why did he have to die? Joan Nesbit Mabe things that drugs killed Ryan Shay. She doesn’t think that he was a cheater; far from it. She does not doubt that he was clean, and that his pending toxicology report from the autopsy is going to prove as much.

Drugs killed Ryan Shay because he broke his heart trying to catch up. He set out to prove that sheer, honest, brutal hard work was enough. He ran himself into the ground, into adrenal failure and eventual heart failure because he believed – Jesus, we ALL believed – that a clean athlete still has a chance in this f__cked up, drug-sucking, running world. But he didn’t have a chance. Drug cheats fill up every final in Olympic and World Championship events. We all know this but we turn a blind eye because, why?!, no harm done!?!??

HARM WAS DONE, PEOPLE!! Ryan Shay is dead. I have been crying all morning over this. Alicia Craig Shay will cry every morning of her life over this.

You know what? I have trouble disagreeing with her. Drugs are an ongoing problem, not just in our sport but in every professional sport.

Not enough is being done to catch the cheaters or to punish them when caught, and the organizations in charge of testing do not have the credibility to behave in an ethical and honest fashion.

No matter what somebody’s test results are, we can never trust that somebody just didn’t have a grudge against them or that they didn’t outsmart the system. This causes us to assume that all athletes are dirty, which does a disservice to the clean athletes and to the ones that are trying to do things the right way.

Joan is very cynical and takes an even harder against performance enhancing drugs than I do. She is much closer to the world of professional running, though, being the coach of elite athletes and having been an elite athlete herself.

I hope that the situation is not as bad as she makes it out to be. I hope that most if not all of the athletes that competed last Saturday were clean. And I really hope that Ryan Shay’s toxicology report comes back clean. I hate to imagine the backlash that a dirty report would have on the community.

I am saddened by his death, and I express my best wishes for all of Ryan’s friends and family who lost him much too soon. Please join the running community by remembering Ryan on your run tomorrow morning.

Funeral services on Sunday, November 11th, in East Jordan, Michigan. Donations for the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund can be sent to:

The Ryan Shay Memorial Fund
5873 Leisure Lane
East Jordan, MI 49727