Guadalajara bobsledder Roberto Tames led a quixotic existence for the past 21 years, pioneering an obscure winter sport in a country that seldom sees snow. During that time, he piloted bobsleds in three Winter Olympic Games. His wife divorced him, unable to accept his dedication to his sport. He twice drove beat-up vehicles 4,000 kilometers north to Calgary to compete in bobsled races. And in an implausible feat, he convinced the Jalisco state government to build a 600,000-peso training facility in a Guadalajara park, which hosted the 2005 World Push Championships. He was charging hard towards qualifying for next month's Winter Games in Turin, having gained immense worldwide respect for his piloting skills and legendary persistence. And then, he tested positive for a banned substance, which sidelined his Olympic dream and worse tagged him with a "tough label."
While his teammates Carlos Aranda and Roberto Lauderdale attempted last week to qualify for the Turin Games via a series of races in Germany, Tames stayed off the track, unable to participate.
Tames failed a drug test administered at last September's World Push Championships. The 41-year old battled injuries all summer and according to an explanation published in Publico, received an injection one month before the competition. Tames and Mexican sports officials only learned of the positive test in early January. Traces of two steroids, boldenona and estanozolol, were found in his test. Three other Mexican athletes also tested positive for banned substances during the fall.
"I tested positive, although it was for medical reasons," Tames told Publico earlier this month. "I didn't do the things I should have for avoiding this."
Tames had planned to retire after the Turin Games; he could instead end up bowing out under a cloud of controversy.