Monday, August 8, 2011

Some Thoughts on Drugs and Sports

I don't claim to be an expert on drugs in sports but I have read enough about the subject in recent decades to be alarmed and discouraged by what I've read. Drugs seem to be a part of every major sport in the world today. For a few examples we can look to the home run champions of years past and present who denied ever using drugs despite getting dramatically bigger and more muscular as they aged, or to the stars of track like Marion Jones,Ben Johnson and others,who after testing positive, continued to say they never did illegal substances. Does anyone really believe that any of the top 20 finishers at the recent Tour de France haven't used some type of performance enhancing substances? I mean,how many of those athletes have been busted in recent years for postive drug tests? I had to laugh when cyclist Alberto Contador's positive test for a banned substance was dismissed because his claim that it was a result of eating a "tainted" food was accepted. It's interesting how questionable assertions like this can be believed while there are ongoing efforts to find Lance Armstrong guilty of drug use.Determining who's "using" in many sports these days is difficult for different reasons. In pro baseball for example, the inhouse screening procedures and the baseball union make catching cheaters extremely difficult. This may be the same situation for pro football but I am not sure. It wouldn't be a stretch to say baseball and football have adopted a "we really don't want to know" mindset because they don't want any more bad PR. I say this because why haven't they allowed an independent testing authority to oversee testing of their athletes? In running,detection of banned substances like EPO,hGH,IGF-1,CPO and certain other drugs, which work to cause the body to deliver more oxygen to the muscles, are difficult to detect,especially if they're stopped prior to when an athlete knows he'll be tested. However,there are ways you can tell something "fishy" is going on, and that is by simply following performances. Dramatic drops in existing world records is one way. An example, in 1988 we saw a female sprinter set world records in the 100 and 200 meter distances with times that were way under the existing records for those distances. Her records still stand today and may not ever be broken. Another,anyone have any thoughts about the existing women's marathon mark? As in pro baseball and football,changes in body structure and appearance are often evidence of cheating by track athletes. Ben Johnson,Marion Jones and Regina Jacobs readily come to mind. There are too many other sprinters and field athletes to mention here. Ben Johnson, just prior to the '88 Olympics gave no indication by his performances that he would run a 9.79 to win the Gold in the 100,especially considering the start he had at that race.But,sure enough, he was caught and then a few years later he was caught again. Few people know this but in 2000, gold medalist in the 1972 Olympic marathon,Frank Shorter,co-founded The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. It is now the agency that oversees drug policy and testing for all American athletes who are competing in the Olympics,Pan-American,and Paralympic Games(including all trials). As mentioned previously,Shorter was probably denied Olympic Gold at the '76 games because he finished second to East German Waldemar Cierpinski,one of the many athletes from that country whose records later revealed they had been given illegal drugs.It's all very sad. It's sad because character no longer seems to matter in so many areas of sport today. Read the paper and a week doesn't go by without stories being published confirming this statement. When I first started putting this article together I thought the # 1 reason why it was wrong to be a drug cheat was: records in individual sports are rendered fraudulent,and the credibility of those respective sports are forever destroyed. Then I thought of a bigger reason, I recently read somewhere that our children are being impacted and influenced by "athletes" who choose to cheat,lie and deceive. They often see these people being honoured, defended,rewarded,and incredibly,portrayed as victims by the media. Our kids deserve better,they deserve the truth.

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