Practice, Performance enhancing drugs

Yesterday the news broke of a potential doping scandal at the Olympics – sadly I wasn’t surprised. Sport has become overrun with doping scandals, I don’t know a huge amount about the testing of athletes and how long this process takes, but one of the biggest shames is how they can compete, win, receive a medal and then be found out.

I’m certainly not an athlete, but I am competitive so I can understand the drive for these men and women to train every day and push their body to the limit. What I can’t understand is how they could risk their chance of glory for a drug. Some athletes will dominate their sport for years with people marvelling at their talent, others will have their career cut short through injury, no one knows what tomorrow might bring for these athletes so why risk losing your career over a doping charge?

The Olympics showcases the best talents in the world, with tiny fractional advantages making a difference, if you win Olympic gold on drugs you’ll never know where you would have finished clean. For me, the challenge comes when they are on the medal podium. How can they stand next to clean athletes who have trained to win and not be filled with guilt? Most athletes are proud of their achievements, but how can you be proud of cheating your way to the top?

It isn’t just the Olympics where doping rears its ugly head. Maria Sharapova has just returned from a doping ban to tennis. While she was out, Serena Williams had a baby and Petra Kvitova was out injured, the women’s game is as open as it has ever been – potentially Sharapova’s best chance at winning a grand slam and she squandered it by cheating.

The tiny fraction of athletes that dope, or get caught ruin the credibility of the game. I’m sure if I asked you to name Tour de France winners one of the first names you’d say would have been involved in doping controversy, their names are remembered for the negatives, not the positives. Usain Bolt won how many gold medals? How many did he lose because his relay teammate was caught as a drugs cheat? Handing back that medal must have been ridiculously hard, but how do you let one of the greatest athletes of all time down like that? He’s probably your friend, an inspiration to you and you take some drugs to get close to his level of talent and leave him with headlines about doping, I bet you’re still friends now…

Sport is a great way to bring people together and can lead to some fierce rivalries between friends, but until the reputation of sport improves every athlete who is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack will invite questions of their blood content. This should not be the conversation that surrounds sport, but this grey cloud doesn’t look like clearing soon.

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