Ban them for life, argues Dr. Paul Wright
The vexed issue of drugs in sports has returned to the front pages of sport newspapers, not because of another positive, but drug use in sports has grabbed headlines because of an interview given to a foreign newspaper by the world's fastest human: Usain Bolt.
This Jamaican speedball has voiced an opinion shared by other athletes (mainly British) that if you cheat, you are going to be kicked out of the sport. He went on to say that "you have to drive fear into athletes to make them think about the consequences of their actions. If they are getting an easy penalty, why would they care?"
That statement articulates the sentiments of those persons at the World Anti-Doping Authority who are determined to rid the sport of those that cheat. Their determination, however, seems to be thwarted by nationalists and other influential and powerful leaders in sports who seem to think that the sport of athletics, specifically, would suffer irreparable damage if the 'icons' are found to be common-a-garden cheats.
The fact is that sport, athletics included, has withstood the positive findings of drugs in the system of 'icons', and I do believe that as the cheats are exposed and banned from the sport, more fans would be drawn to support the sport as the belief that those left in the sport are clean becomes factual and not speculative.
I do also believe that every mentally competent individual works out the cost or benefit of whatever action he or she contemplates. No sane Jamaican drives at full speed on the right hand side of Washington Boulevard during peak traffic. He or she knows the cost or benefit of that action.
It matters not if he or she knows the member of parliament, or the 'Don', or the 'Supe' or the best legal mind on the island. He or she WILL be seriously injured. Therefore, there are very few reports of that occurring.
Similarly, as Usain has posited, the consequences of cheating MUST be such (a life ban) that the use of drugs in sports would be dramatically reduced. But when those who cheat (test positive) are able to say, "I have never used drugs in my life", despite the irrefutable fact that the substance appeared in their system, and then use technicalities and legal loopholes to escape punishment or to get the punishment reduced to meaningless levels, leaving them free to try a thing on another day, then one can understand the frustration of those in the sport who are determined to remain drug free.
When the public and other athletes are informed that a competitor has tested positive for drugs, after signing a document confirming the fact that the drug testing procedure was done to that competitor's satisfaction, is exonerated because of the possibility of sample contamination from the sweat of another athlete or from the water used to wash hands, the message may be interpreted as: "Use drugs to win. If you are caught, deny, deny, deny! We will use every legal and mind-boggling argument to exonerate you."
The Lance Armstrong expose has alerted a shocked world to the complicity of other competitors, doctors, dope-control officers, and administrators at the highest level of sports in a failed effort to not embarrass cycling by letting out the secret that the world's greatest cyclist is a common-a-garden cheat.
Let us, we-the-people, voice our strong objection to the report that a regulator of the cable industry KNEW that operators were selling products to unsuspecting consumers that they had not paid for, and when cornered, give the feeble excuse that "I spoke to the operators several times and formed a committee".
Let us, we-the-people, voice strong objection to a report from the regulators of the horse racing industry that a horse returned a positive test, but those in charge of the animal were exonerated - as if the animal gave itself the drug. We MUST have explanations for these bizarre findings. We must ensure that the system is tamper proof, and if it is not, let us know and tell us what is being done to fix the problem.
Let the words from Jamaica's and the world's fastest human mean something. Let us unite to rid sports of cheaters. When they are caught, ban them for life.