In the battle of the present versus the cataclysmic future, Cristiano Ronaldo showed that humans still have a chance against the genetic freaks of modern science as he bounced back from being down 4-1 in the Ballon d'Or count against Argentina's Lionel Messi.
The underwear model who moonlights as Real Madrid's talisman has not had an easy road to becoming the greatest footballer in the history of the sport, especially when you consider that Pele and Diego Maradona had to contend with other humans while Ronaldo was pitted against one of humanity's greatest threats—GMOs.
Although the mild-mannered Argentinian was thought to be just an idiot-savant for years and years, the fact that Messi's body has been genetically modified since his teenage years has been brought up numerous times. However, much like Michael Jordan's gambling addiction was overlooked by the NBA, FIFA has conveniently swept Messi's issues under the rug.
Now, in the aftermath of any sport's greatest achievement, let us bring the harrowing facts to light. Messi has been injected with human growth hormone (HGH)—one of many substances the now-disgraced Lance Armstrong admitted to taking—for an extended period of time since he was 13. Barely gifted as a youngster, he failed to find a club willing to take him on until Barcelona proposed the expensive and extremely illegal science experiment to mould him.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the hormones help to "not only develop greater height, but also help deal with a variety of internal issues, such as pituitary function, skin and teeth problems and lower immunity while also increasing stamina and strength, heightening motor functions, having perfect control of the ball and also grant the ability to slow down time".
It is a damning indication of where he gets his "god-gifted ability” from, especially considering that the use of HGH is banned in almost all sports, amateur and professional. Of course, he perhaps could have fashioned a therapeutic use exemption from the infamously corrupt members of FIFA or his chums at the European footballing body.
If given, the reason would be as much of an excuse as the aforementioned Armstrong saying he needed blood doping, erythropoietin and HGH to survive cancer. What would you say then: "No Armstrong, don't cure your cancer?" I thought not.
Ronaldo could have taken a leaf out of Messi's book. Instead, he has always chosen to forge his own path, believing in himself with an unwavering conviction that only the world's most egomaniacal and metrosexual have. When he limped out of the final of the Euros in 2016, he willed his team to victory from the sidelines, mostly by not hogging the ball and taking potshots. When Messi lost the Copa America (South America's equivalent of the Euros) in 2016, he retired. The match rolled into shootouts, Messi missed his penalty and then, to put it as aptly as possible, he rage-quit.
Unlike Messi, who has stayed at only Barcelona (and with one woman) throughout his career not out of loyalty but for fear of being unmasked, Ronaldo planted his flag in Europe (and multiple supermodels) with Manchester United as well, a feat that earned him his first Ballon d'Or.
So when one of mankind's finest picked up his crown jewel atop the Eiffel Tower, a platform from which it was rather easy to overshadow the famously thin-skinned Neymar, his posse of Brazilians and orgy-loving father, the whole world had only a few things to do; sit down, be humble and bear witness.
Samama Rahman is a sports subeditor at The Daily Star.