Coach is the name for God on the lips of athletes in the Olympic sports. We often leave everything behind to go live where our coaches live. We hang onto every word. We crave every glance.

A friend of mine was his country’s national record holder in the Pole Vault. He moved halfway around the world to be with his coach. One day that coach ended a meeting by saying, “No vaulter can go higher than 18 feet without drugs.”

Then that coach got up and walked away.

Let me translate what the coach told the vaulter: you will not make the Olympics if you don’t dope.

By season’s end my friend was using illegal drugs. One of his coaches back home gave him the doping protocol.

Athletes are indeed responsible for what they do and they should be banned when they dope.

Banning their dirty coaches is nonetheless more urgent. A dirty athlete has little influence over clean athletes. Adored coaches have great influence over all of their athletes.