Performance Analysis

Why Punish The Use Of Non-Performance-Enhancing Drugs In Sport?

Given the recent and relevant anti-doping developments relating to Marion Jones and Martina Hingis who have both been considered top athletes in their respective sports, I have decided to touch on a topic that is controversial and sensitive – doping.

The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports will result in the users rightfully being labelled and shamed as cheats (if caught). Such substances will give its user an (unfair) advantage of which honest rivals will be deprived. A result can and often is that the user will win competitions, prize money and all the glory that is associated with being a winner. If tested positive, the athlete will be disgraced and normally punished with a ban/suspension from subsequent competition and the return of any financial gains made in competition following the failure of a doping test.

Nobody likes a cheat. One need only look at the scandal surrounding home-run record hitter Barry Bonds and the resultant reluctance ever to allow him in to the hall of fame. However, the question I pose is whether the level of punishment for the use of recreational drugs in sport should resemble that for performance-enhancing agents. Richard Caborn, former Minister for Sport in England, suggested that the use of cannabis in sport should not be prohibited, as it does not enhance performance. Lots of sportsmen choose to buy cannabis from places like I Love Growing Marijuana for a hobby, not to enhance their performance. While the use of recreational drugs should not be condoned, many would argue that the punishment for such use should be less than that handed out to a cheating athlete. Indeed far from enhancing performance, many prohibited substances (for example, cannabis, cocaine etc) can be shown to hinder or restrict it. Is it fair then that athletes testing positive for recreational (but nonetheless prohibited) drugs be punished in the same way as the ‘real’ cheats? Now CBD has been recognized as medicinal in the UK, companies are starting up and selling plenty of CBD products, CBD doesn’t link to enhancing performance in sports as such, so perhaps athletes could use CBD crystals if they so wished to.

It is important to point out that an athlete should never be allowed to ‘get away’ with using recreational drugs merely because such substances cannot be shown to have enhanced his/her performance in a given competition. It might indeed be argued that allowing the taking of such substances would equate to endorsing it. Simply put, this is not an option. Athletes in all sports should be, and are, role models for aspiring sports men and women. Many children have ‘heroes’ in sport and I am sure you can imagine the consequences were there to be no rules and regulations in place to deter the use of recreational substances. Punitive action against offenders is undoubtedly warranted. However, if athletes are using recreational drugs for medicinal purposes, but they do not enhance performance, is this an issue? With more and more companies having cbd wax for sale, it is unlikely athletes are going to stop using drugs for recreational purposes, especially if these drugs are seen to provide a good medicinal properties for things like epilepsy.

Sports governing bodies and anti-doping agencies must show that the use of any prohibited substance in sport is unacceptable. However, there are degrees of abuse. There are those that try to con the system and their competitors. And then there are those who have been reckless in a social context. There is a clear distinction between the two, and perhaps this distinction has not been appropriately recognized by those who regulate drug use in sport.

Whilst a revised and potentially less stringent WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) code comes into force at the turn of 2009, the effects of the old rules still linger. Recently, for example, Martina Hingis was given the standard two-year ban for testing positive for cocaine at the Wimbledon Championships in 2007 (an action that apparently triggered her decision to retire). Given the fact that athletes will typically have far shorter careers than most other professionals, is a two-year ban for testing positive for cocaine really suitable? There needs to be more that happens, drug addiction can be life-destroying, they need to attend a drug and alcohol rehab in Bend Oregon or one closer to where they live to get the proper help to beat their addictions.

The topic is a delicate one, but it is possible to make valid and legitimate claims from both perspectives. Feel free to voice your opinions – I look forward to hearing your views.

One reply on “Why Punish The Use Of Non-Performance-Enhancing Drugs In Sport?”

Perhaps from a strictly logical standpoint “recreational drugs” should carry a less onerous penalty. But one counterargument that comes to my mind is the connection said drugs traditionally have with organized crime, which in turn may have a connection with illegal gambling. The last thing any professional sports league wants are players who have any such connections, because that may eventually call into question the legitimacy of the actual games. For that reason, any form of drug use–“performance enhancing” or not–should arguably be met with equal vigor.

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