With yet more revelations from the World of sport that more athletes have been caught doping, is it time to reconsider how sports view doping?
Firstly, before I begin this post, I would just like to state that my stance on drugs and cheating in sport is very very clear – I am 100% against it. I send a clear message to my athletes about drugs in general and drugs in sport, I educate them with the information provided to be by my governing body and by WADA and we often have discussions about the latest cases of doping in sport so they all understand the implications of it.
This post is simply to raise the discussion of the topic which is clearly ruining all of our sports….
So please take this with a pinch of salt and remember I am fully against doping and cheating…
The last 6 months have been pretty tough for Olympic sports…with the Russian Athletics Federation banned by the IAAF to compete at Rio 2016, Maria Sharapova, one of the Worlds best Tennis players admitting to taking the banned substance meldonium, the International Weightlifting Federation provisionally banning 17 athletes for doping and Kenyan Athletics under investigation for doping violations, …. the list goes on and on and on…
The latest to add to this list includes the revelations made on May 27th that an additional 23 athletes from London 2012 have been found to have been doping. Through the Olympic re-test programme, athletes from 5 different sports and from 6 different countries have been caught and will be banned from Rio 2016. It appears the problem is getting bigger and bigger.
The case of doping in sport is as old as sport itself. Its origins can be traced back to the Ancient Olympics where Olympians would eat lizard meat prepared a special way, in the hopes that it would give them an athletic edge. The earliest case of an athlete using performance enhancing drugs in the modern Games was in the 1904 as the winner of the marathon, Thomas Hicks was injected with strychnine to give him a boost.
Over its long history, the Olympic Games has certainly had some monumental doping cases. Probably the biggest story was the Ben Johnson case from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in which he devastated the sporting world by failing a drugs test for a banned steroid. There was also the case of track superstar Marion Jones who failed tests just after the Sydney Olympics in 2000, with investigations further revealing a huge doping network called BALCO. And of course, outside of Track & Field there has also been the most destructive and mammoth doping case from the King of all dopers, Lance Armstrong.
It is quite apparent that no matter how much money, how much time and how many investigations are made, doping in elite sport is never going to go away…so we have a choice, either make the bans so severe that athletes simply wont consider it an option…or, we let the dopers be.
I won’t bore you with all the politics involved with giving out life time bans to athletes, but it seems that this won’t be happening any time soon. So, what about another solution…actually letting the athlete dope if they chose?
Lets take the ‘sport’ of body building for example…anecdotally all body builders take drugs to allow them to train harder and lean out to a ridiculously low body fat level. These ‘athletes’ are not drugs tested, it is not deemed as cheating and it is not looked down on by those involved.
The ‘sport’ is broken down into two categories, those that are not clean and those that are clean, the ‘natural’ competitors. The ones that decide they want to take the drugs to help them ‘perform’ are left to it and any mistakes made or health problems that are had are simply their own faults. Those that are ‘natural’ and clean compete in their own competitions and have their own accolades and prizes.
We are not winning the war on drugs in sport, it seems to be getting worse. it is ruining sports reputation, it is ruining athletes and coaches lives and it is ruining the principle of what it is to be an Olympian…why, because it is cheating people out of what they deserve.
So here is the discussion point I would like to raise…why not take away the element of ‘cheating’ and let the dopers be. If an athlete choses to take performance enhancers, let them compete with others that have also decided upon that pathway.
It will be our job as coaches to educate athletes to go down the clean path and compete in the clean sports and those that chose the other path, simply leave them too it.
Those that want to be clean, compete with clean, those that want to dope, let them dope
Again, to reiterate, I am very much against drugs full stop. I do think we should be imposing life time bans…
Bio: Coach W is a track & field coach from Europe who has coached both male and female athletes from child to senior success. She wants to remain anonymous in order for her to express her opinions about the world of sport and coaching around the World.