Well, I was an outside insider—a teenager looking at a potential future. It was not totally opaque to me, I could see some things, and I knew some things. To me, it wasn’t thrilling, it was mysterious and scary. The big crew were all something like 6-8 years older than me, a huge gulf at that age that normally creates mystery, apprehension, some fear, and some distrust.
The environment had the overarching feel of duality—either you were in, or you were out. My teenage mind always equated that secrecy with criminality, and I wanted nothing to do with it—but I was still there, and saw stuff, and know stuff, because I was never seen as a threat, or of any security consequence, just as some fast young kid.
The important thing to understand is the culture—all else is just details. There are 2 main cultures: 1) the athletes who will do what it takes to satisfy the needs/requirements of 2) the international track/olympic autocracy. They are two sides of the same coin, all of them out to make money off whomever they can, and the athletes also out for sporting supremacy or glory. They are wedded, both producing a product that is then offered for sale to various bidders. (2) get the big inside money, and (1) are generally just tools except for a favored few.
That is the system. From a moron athlete’s perspective—someone who knows squat about things and 99% of whose experience is sport/training—all that is visible is the dream that is on offer. Really, they don’t think beyond that until it is too late. The ones that do best are the dimmest, the ones who are most easily molded into the shape that coaches and agents know will sell. If they determine you will never be marketable, you are SOL in this game. Also, if you try to execute your own ideas, you are equally SOL.
Looking up at the older cohort from the pov of a younger kid, I of course had no idea that they were just kids as much as I was, but more advanced, playing bit parts in a much larger power play. All I saw was mature athletes. This adolescent perspective is why there will always be a new generation who will get roped in—and at a certain point, you are forced to make a decision. Coaches will, in private, be absolutely straight and frank with these prospects.
As for the two cultures forming a conspiracy, it’s not really like that—it is more of an unequal partnership. It is (2) which makes the decisions, and which sets rules such that it will maintain its hegemony and control over the product and its associated narrative. SMTC, TAC, USOC, IOC—it was all the same thing, working for the same goal—which they achieved, completely. Dubin was pure political theater, mere pablum for naive and credulous Canadian consumption.
Back then was when a major battle was won by the hegemon—maybe even the whole war. Now they are just cleaning up occasional regional rebellions—but with the international interpenetration we see now among athletes, coaches, agents, training camps, doctors, etc, those have been reduced by homogenization and uniformity. Everyone is now on the same page. Stick your neck out like Dennis, and all of a sudden the formerly uncensored and candorous SCR tucks her tail between her legs and becomes demeure. And she will be handsomely rewarded for her compliance.
And so it goes. Vast conspiracy? No. Coordinated effort under the direction of a hegemon? Absolutely.