Sunday, July 27, 2008

Drugs and Sports

Ahh… Home at last… After my rendez-vous of competitions in Europe I have returned home. Overall, I am content with my performances. They could have been a bit better but they could have always been less. Most importantly I managed to stay healthy and return in one piece. Of course, my series of competitions would not be complete without that frequent drug test. Yes, I was randomly picked for a drug test yesterday in London. At this point in the season I have lost count of how many drug tests I’ve had.

I have become so use to being drug tested, that I usually try to stay hydrated so I’ll be ready to provide my 100 ml of urine sample. But, yesterday, I was in such a hurry to get back to the hotel to enjoy 2 servings of an incredible chocolate cake (my last indulgence before the Olympic Games), that I wasn’t ready to be delayed in my quest. So, as it went, it took me 2 hours to provide a urine sample and by that time the hotel’s chocolate cake was devoured by other athletes also indulging!!!… C’est la vie!

It seems as the Olympic Games draws to a near, the spot light on amateur sports intensifies. But it also seems the topic of Drugs becomes more prominent. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of these discussions, because there is sometimes an unspoken assumption that a great performance may be linked to drugs. Specifically, in sports where one is racing a time, distance or height.

Unlike professional sports, track and field institutes an aggressive testing regime. It has the strictest procedure in place. If you are top 20 in the world (or in Canada a Canadian athlete) you are required to submit a Whereabouts Form. This form must detail where we will be for the next 3 months. If for some reason we deviate from our projected plan (let’s say a trip to Aunt Mary’s instead of being at home) you must submit an updated form immediately!

Testers come unannounced with out any warning – and you must be where you say you will be. Failure may result in a warning and eventual drug violation resulting in suspension or ban. Moreover, those who are in violation are publicly announced. For this reason, the general public may hear of a drug infraction in Athletics more readily.

I believe the system in place makes a strong action in discouraging drug abuse and the cases are far and few. What I don’t tolerate is the assumption that Athletics (Track & Field) is a dirty sport. If someone wants to cheat they will – no matter the sport or genre – be it in professional sports, amateur sports or life! Drugs can wrongfully advantage all athletes & individuals, especially when the ultimate goal is performance. And performance can come in the shape of a time, distance, ability to play longer, to be focus or be fired up. Rather than focus on who has taken drugs and who may, I prefer to take solace in knowing our sport has a good system in place to catch the cheaters more readily.

I choose to celebrate the amazing performances out there demonstrating the wonders of the human possibilities (and let the system take care of the cheaters). After all, if it’s not good stuff, it doesn’t deserve my attention!

I completely support a drug free sport, and I am glad we have the testing system in place that we have.

Proud supporter of a Drug Free Sport,

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