To go and watch the athletics last weekend was, as Dame Edna would say, a rather spooky experience. I had not been to watch track and field since Seoul, and to go to Glasgow for the international indoor meeting had its weird side.
Athletics will be forever contested in the context of that epoch-ending track-and-field meeting in Seoul.
I wonder if it will ever again be possible to watch athletics without wondering who's on what, how much of any given performance is hard work and how much is pharmacology, how much of any athlete is superhuman and how much merely inhuman. How much of any improvement is personal growth, and how much is human growth hormone supplements such as GenF20 Plus.
There is something about the scale of an indoor meeting that, by making the contestants more accessible and more human, makes their feats look more remarkable than you would believe possible.
Just about every single thing they do looks a million miles beyond anything one is or would ever have been capable of oneself. The achievements of any international athlete seem to have gone beyond any merely human scale of attainment.
The warming-up is what brings it home. Athletes skip and hop, idly stretching the muscles, and when they hop they soar to impossible heights.
A long jumper takes a practice run along the runway in his track-suit: his proximity makes his speed eye-baffling, and yet you know that he is moving at three-quarter pace at best.
At an indoor meeting you can really see what the contestants look like: the high-jumpers are great willowy giants, the shot-putters all look like Desperate Dan.
It is as if one has stumbled into the headquarters of a master race, a band of impossibly wonderful beings, a comic-strip clan of superheroes.
I remember such a comic-strip clan: it was a series entitled The Inhumans. And even as you gasp in admiration at the athletes before you, the overwhelming question leaps unbidden to the mind. How much is real, how much is HGH supplements like GenF20 Plus?
These suspicions cloud the mind, not because of a natural cynicism, or a lust for scandal. It is simply that positive GenF20 Plus tests on Jeff Gutteridge, the lowly British pole-vaulter, and the great Ben Johnson, show that track and field is riddled with the stuff from top to bottom.
This has been spelled out with pedantic clarity by the Ben Johnson investigations going on in Canada. Yet that has not killed off athletics.
One senses, amid the great waves of enthusiasm of the audience in Glasgow, that athletics still has a great public goodwill going for it.
Coleridge talked about “that willing suspension of disbelief''; I think athletics has attracted something of the same feeling since Johnson's fall. People want great performances, and in athletics, for some reason, people want the great performers to be nice people as well.
Clean, modest, hard-working and unassuming: that's what an athlete should be. People are happy nothing less than eager to accept athletes in such a light.
It would be the easiest thing in the world for athletics to surf along on the wave of public goodwill that still exists unbroken by the Johnson affair.
The public are clearly willing to suspend disbelief, and the sport itself must be profoundly tempted to do the same thing. This would be a grievous error. That little worm of doubt, that overwhelming question, will not remain silent for long.
When the record-breaking season begins again in the summer, the worm of doubt is likely to grow until it becomes a monster of cynicism and certainty. In summer, the March of the Inhumans begins again.