No rules on dope ― now that’s dopey

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No rules on dope ― now that’s dopey

Politicians must lie. People must die. Athletes must take drugs.
What should be a jaw-dropping story about pill-popping and sports has generated only as much attention as the latest allegations against Michael Jackson. On the other hand, drug scandals have been around sports so long that by now we all expect that someone on the field is juiced up.
“In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport, and the honor of our teams.”
What you just read is the Athlete’s Oath that is made at the beginning of each Olympic Games, the pinnacle of accomplishment of the amateur sports world. But like so many things that have been around awhile, this statement has become a mere symbol of how things should be, but are not.
The recent exposure of the use of tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG, has gotten some athletes in trouble, but even that ballyhoo will soon settle down, and soon after that the vicious drug-use cycle will start anew. Even with today’s technology, we wage a war of attrition against drugs in sports.
No doubt, doping tests win their share of victories. Once in a while, some conscientious soul comes along who tips off officials. But there are just as many days when athletes who have crumbled under the unbearable pressure to perform take that errant step that goes unnoticed.
Ben Johnson, the former track star, and the retired major leaguer, Mark McGwire, are two athletes who come to mind when the subject of doping is broached.
When I saw Ben Johnson cross the finish line first in the finals of the 100-meters sprint at the Seoul Olympic games and Big Mac stroke two pitches for roundtrips in one game in his last days as a Cardinal, I felt that I was part of something great. Those feelings lasted only until I factored in how much of a boost these guys got from drugs.
It is no secret that drug policies in sports are as porous as a sieve. Rather than subject all athletes to testing, officials opt for random sampling. I admit time and costs are associated with mandatory sampling of all athletes, but such a policy should be the norm.
Korea is fertile ground for the use of performance-enhancing substances. Although it is believed that such drugs are not in widespread use because they are hard to come by and not much is known here about designer drugs, safeguards are needed. Not necessarily to deal with cheating, but to prevent it.
For instance, neither the Korea Baseball Organization nor the K-league for soccer mentions drugs in its rule book. One must wonder: What does it take? A dead man on the field? Start drafting some policies now before a spurt of drug abuse cases benches an entire team, mouthing the refrain: “Nobody told us.”
In the case of four NFL players who have tested positive for THG, punishment will be postponed until the 2004 season. The argument is that players cannot be held responsible for positive tests on urine samples that were taken before a drug was identified as illegal. What is the logic here?
Dope has no place in sports. No more meaningless warnings, fines and game suspensions.


by Brian Lee

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