A new novel, which is being published Monday 2 March, 2015, by Quaero, is a timely exploration of the issues of steroid use in sport and for image-enhancing body-building. (Review copies supplied on request – see below.)
Written by former sports journalist Steve Howell, Over The Line is narrated by a naïve, old-school coach whose world is destabilised when his star athlete becomes the focus of a police investigation into the steroid-related death of a former school-friend.
Coach Liam McCarthy has spent two years helping Megan Tomos to become world number one and favourite to win a gold medal in the 100m hurdles at the Rio Olympics.
Megan is the poster girl of the British team, loved by fans and sponsors, but her celebrity status means nothing to a meticulous detective and the bereaved mother of Matt Davies, the boy who died.
Suspicion descends on Megan when it emerges she’s still in touch with an ex-boyfriend who was present when Matt died and who has been banned from rugby after failing a drugs test.
A fast-paced thriller with a humorous touch, Over The Line gives an insider’s perspective on the trauma caused by a drugs scandal and takes the reader on a journey through remorse, betrayal and redemption.
Over The Line has been well received in early reviews, including being hailed as ‘an absolute treat’ on BBC Radio Wales by presenter Jamie Owen (available on BBC iPlayer, see notes).
Set mainly in Newport, South Wales and Hendon in north London, Over The Line is Steve Howell’s debut novel and draws on his personal experience of all levels of sport as a participant, coach, journalist and PR consultant.
“Over The Line is about both the deadly consequences of steroid use and how drug cheating distorts and damages sport and all the human relationships bound up with it,” he says.
“I have been involved in athletics all my life, and I wanted to show how it felt from the inside when a drugs scandal rears its head and casts doubt and distrust across everyone. But this doesn’t mean I’m pessimistic. I believe in the capacity of sports such as athletics to constantly renew themselves.
“We have a primal need to know who can run the fastest, jump the highest and throw the furthest, and I think athletics – possibly more than any other sport – has shown that the forces of fair play and honest endeavour can triumph over narrow interests that exploit sport for their own gain.
“I disagree strongly with those who say we should let sports people take any drug they like, not only because that would be dehumanising, treating them as objects for entertainment, but also because anabolic steroids are deadly – athletes who use them are far more likely to die early from heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
“Sport puts our ethics to the test – and that’s why I agree with the French author Albert Camus who said what he knows most surely about morality and the duty of man he owes to sport.”
Orders of the paperback edition at £7.99 can be made via this website with no delivery charge – Order. A Kindle version is available via Amazon.