For ease of understanding, let’s look at the champion of the 100 meter run or what is known as ‘the fastest man in the world’.
Usually the winner of the world championships or, if it’s in the correct year, the winner of the Olympics, carries the title of fastest man in the world. But really, it’s more a rock/paper/scissors type of thing. There might be the “usual” winner at the various track meets around the world. But some of those events are won by others as well.
Say one of those competitors wins more often with a strong wind at his back. And another competitor wins against a strong wind. And yet another competitor would likely win but he usually gets two false starts and is kicked out of competition. There we have 4 possible winners of the 100 meters. On any given day, any one of them could win. The fastest man in the world is a toss up.
They don’t have a 100 meter speed skating event, but if they did, the champion would be faster than the 100m runner. If there were a 100 meter cycling event, that competitor would likely easily beat the 100m runner. And fastest of all at 100m would be the downhill skiers. You may object to these 3 because they use cycles, skates and skis, machinery that makes them go faster. But we could object to the starting blocks and even running shoes of the 100m runners for the same reason.
To get a new slate of winners in the 100m, we could just put some hurdles on the track. Suddenly the contenders for fastest man in the world would look different. The top hurdlers would now be the fastest men in the world.
Using steroids is known as cheating in sport. But that should mean nothing when we are talking about the fastest man in the world. Ben Johnson was the fastest man in the world in the 1988 Olympics when he won the 100m in the fastest time. Of course his time was thrown out when it was found he was using steroids. There is no argument that he wasn’t the fastest. Of course he was.
But probably the biggest reason that champion of the world doesn’t mean champion of the world is that the champion hasn’t really been pitted against 7 billion other people on earth. Each one of these may have become faster, for instance, if they had been trained from early on with all the best coaches and equipment and resources.
For instance, in the 1976 summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada failed to pick up any gold medals. So money was thrown at the athletes in the years preceding the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. In those winter Olympics Canada won 14 gold medals. I believe that was a record for the winter games.
All of this is why the champion of the world is not necessarily the champion of the world.