Don’t Be Duped By Doping – Conservative Article
Is there anything wrong with doping? My answer a couple of weeks ago would have been yes, but how long do you have?
I recently studied doping in sports for one of my modules at university and I had no idea the number of academic papers justifying doping for various reasons. Is it not obviously immoral, dishonest and indeed harmful to adoring fans?
I want to discuss a specific aspect of the debate, and that is the strict liability doctrine. It holds that athletes are ‘solely and legally responsible for what they consume’. Growing up supporting rugby, rowing and cycling, and seeing what it takes to succeed, I believe athletes are responsible for positive doping tests, even if unintentional.
Last week, jockey Oisin Murphy received a doping suspension of three months. This came after a positive test for cocaine in August. However, a subsequent ‘Sample B’ test was returned negative. It has come to light that this may be because he was in an environment where “cocaine was present”. Murphy himself said he regrets not removing himself from this situation.
This is the harsh reality of doping in sport. You can certainly be forgiven for empathising with Murphy, whose public image has been damaged. After all, he did not set out to gain a competitive advantage by consuming a performance-enhancing substance (PES).
It is difficult to take one line on doping, certainly while following the line of strict liability. I am still an advocate for each professional athlete being responsible for what they do and do not consume, as well as the ‘environments’ (wording used by Murphy himself) they expose themselves to. It comes with the territory!
Christian Coleman, ‘the next Bolt’ according to some, is currently appealing a ban that would see him miss the Tokyo Olympic Games. He has not failed a drugs test, so why is he currently on a ban? He is serving a ban because he did not follow the WADA Code regarding test attendance. I would genuinely be interested to see what my fellow writers think about this. Strict liability, something Britain’s own Lord Coe, President of World Athletics (formerly the IAAF), sets a high standard of practice for all athletes who compete under the WADA regulations.
Many of my fellow student-athletes, whether it’s rugby, hockey or rowing will know that BUCS require all athletes to follow the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) guidelines published at the start of each year. Especially at student level, some may think these measures extreme, but why should we not expect everyone in sport to commit themselves to equality out on the pitch, in the pool or on the court? Maybe I am being a scrooge, with university being about having fun and new experiences.
Nonetheless, the materials I came across that condoned doping are the main reason I wrote this piece. If rules on doping expect too much from athletes, then they could consider a sport where they are allowed to compete under the influence of PESs. One such sport is steroid use in powerlifting, where there are two federations within which athletes can compete.
Overall, I still maintain that doping is duping, a falsehood which portrays you as something you are not. But, a doping ban doesn’t mean you doped and hoped to elevate your performance to success. There is something to be said for this, and I am not quite sure what that is.
Politically and socially, a doping ban ruins an athlete’s image and that of the brands and coaches they represent. This is because of what doping symbolises; an attempt to deceive and misrepresent yourself as an athlete. To make what constitutes doping, I believe a harsh line as has been described must be taken.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Josh Tyrrell
Point of Information
A plethora of questions lacking answers – A Labour Response
Reading this article, and the development of Josh’s seemingly mixed feelings around doping, I was optimistic for the possible solutions he would offer. But these are non-existent. Initially, I was disappointed and ready to criticise this, but actually, I now find myself at a similar place – somewhat on the fence with many more questions than answers.
I largely share Josh’s sentiment that athletes are fundamentally responsible for their own consumption of performance-enhancing substances (PES). Consuming these merely to gain an advantage over another competitor is inherently wrong and unfair. If an athlete wants to gain an advantage, they should aim to do so through continuous hard work and a reasonable training plan. Not only is this fairer, but it is safer and allows greater opportunity to maintain their level of fitness.
But is this issue as black and white as it seems? Admittedly it’s much easier to argue yes. Though, I would have to disagree. There are countless factors to consider on a case to case basis. Taking just the examples of Murphy and Coleman that Josh uses, both of these would require a different response. So the debate as a whole raises a plethora of questions.
Should athletes be punished for their reluctance around testing? Why is there reluctance in the first place? Are they guilty or just oblivious to the WADA code? If they are guilty, should they be condemned immediately or given a chance? Should this be changed based on the athlete’s individual circumstances?
If you’re anything like me, and Josh it seems, your answers to these questions will be somewhat contradictory. Thus, it certainly isn’t a simple debate that everyone will agree upon.
Ultimately, I can’t really condemn Josh for his lack of answers. At the end of the day, he is bringing a very complex debate to light. I will try and provide a bit more clarity in my concluding sentiment, however.
I don’t support PES for the advancement of oneself against their competitors. But I do recognise that the circumstances around such consumption will vary on an individual basis. We need to work on understanding the reasons why athletes take these drugs to move towards a decline in their use overall. One thing I am sure of is that every case is different.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
The world of doping is hard to grasp – A Liberal Response
It seems only yesterday when WADA banned Russia from the 2016 Olympics for a major doping scandal… only for the Olympics committee to overturn their decision. It wasn’t that long ago that Mo Farah was at the centre of a doping scandal with his coach supporting other athletes to dope. Yet, despite all the tests, restrictions and precautions, doping still happens.
The most famous doping scandal, of course, is Lance Armstrong, and I think when we discuss doping, you cannot not discuss the Tour De France. A 2,000 miles race within 23 days; it is a truly impressive feat for any man to do. To win it, doping seems a requirement. You simply cannot compete, let alone finish the race, without.
And this is my point, doping will and has continued to this day. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to detect because, as Josh notes, tests go wrong. If you want to test for testosterone, you have to be prepared to allow leeway. Some athletes, because they are athletes, will, of course, have more testosterone in their body than normal people. So you have to take that into account when testing. So you can easily get around the system; just know how to play the game.
This is before you start to discuss the taking of illegal substances like Marijuana and Cocaine before games in the NFL. Ray Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers of all time, is a perfect example of this and yet, it was never picked up on drug tests.
My point is this, it is all nice and pretty to say doping should be stopped, but when testing for it is semi-corrupt, and you have to do it or see yourself fail, why wouldn’t you?
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
‘Hold a flexible mindset’ was a piece of advice I once heard and I find it appropriate to mention when introduction myself as a member of the POI team.
I’m Abi! I am a liberal, political enthusiast from the Welsh valleys. Since I was young, I have been captivated by politics. I used to spend so much time watching the morning news before school, and have paid close attention to political campaigns for as long as I can remember. It was a lot later that I decided I wanted to pursue politics academically. Now, I have just finished my second year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter.
I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.