OK, now that we have a few opinions out there, I thought I’d weigh in on the topic.
First off, I understand where the author is coming from. I can see where it is very hard to believe that any top level professional athlete in any sport is clean, especially with the doping news that has come up over the past year or so. That said, I’m sure the quote that I pulled was a deliberate attention grabbing exaggeration. I’m sure there are clean athletes out there but it is getting increasingly hard, if not simply impossible, to know who might be clean and who might be using.
I also understand his statement “Do you care?” although I think this is another attention grabber (and yes, I purposely used those attention grabbers to get attention and spur discussion here). I hope people do care. When watching a race, I hope people aren’t thinking this race is a sham, this guy and that guy and this other guy are all dirty so it’s meaningless. At that point in time, I hope everyone can enjoy the excitement of the competition. However, when it comes to what this means to our sport and our future stars, I hope it does matter to all of us.
Whenever the drug discussion comes up, someone usually shows up and asks why drugs are even banned. Just allow everything to go and you don’t have to worry about the expenses and bad press associated with tests and positive results. It works for baseball after all, right? Heck, remember last year when they started drug testing? Only in season and the players knew about the tests ahead of time and still 7% of them tested positive. Read that again, 7% of them tested positive when they knew when the tests were going to take place. Still, T&F with a positive rate of well below 1% when the athletes don’t know they are going to be tested gets all the press for dirty athletes because of suspensions and an appeals process that drags on forever. Of course, recently, we have been seeing that athletes in the sports that do little to no drug testing have also been getting this bad press so hopefully views are changing.
While it’s a nice thought to say just allow anything, don’t governing bodies have some responsibility to their athletes and, most importantly, children who aspire to be the next star? I believe they do. Even though there will always be undetectable drugs, it just seems right to take a stance of not allowing drugs that can be dangerous. Of course, some banned substances aren’t all that dangerous (remember, Sudafed has a banned substance) and some substances that could be dangerous aren’t banned. What about that? Well, you do have to draw the line somewhere and that line, in general right now, seems to be the line between natural and man-made. If you can get something naturally from your diet or surroundings, even if it does improve your performance, it is not banned except at outrageous levels. If you can not get it naturally and it does improve your performance, it is banned. To me, this seems as good as any other option of where to draw the line.