Doping affects the entire nature of sports


The use of banned performance-enhancing drugs in sports, commonly referred to as doping, is slowly but surely ruining the professional sports world.

Daniel Razzano | Daily Trojan

Daniel Razzano | Daily Trojan

Most notably, Lance Armstrong, once seven-time Tour de France champion, finally confessed to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey after years of speculation. He was stripped of all his titles on Oct. 22, 2012.

Moreover, no eligible candidates were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year — voters were skeptical with regard to the outstanding performances of steroid-tainted stars such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.

In fact, this was only the second time in four decades that no players were given the honor of being elected into the prestigious hall, which is quickly going from the Hall of Fame to the hall of shame.

In this era of performance-enhancing drugs within professional sports, one could say that everyone is guilty. Some players used PEDs while others did nothing to stop the widespread use among their peers. This burden comes with a price, as outstanding performances in any professional sport are now being questioned and records such as Bonds’ all-time home run record have asterisks next to them.

It seems as if it was just yesterday when Ben Johnson’s gold medal was stripped in the 1988 Seoul Olympics for using steroids. Even though many international sports organizations, led by the International Olympic Committee, continue to implement harsh penalties and rules against the use of PEDs, the sporting world continues to see high-profile athletes on the front-page news across the globe for doping.

So if everyone is using PEDs and it’s a natural development in the game, then why don’t all the professional sports leagues and their governing, anti-doping agencies just go ahead and allow them?

Plain and simple: It’s cheating.

As students, we aren’t allowed to cheat and if we do, there are consequences. What these athletes need to understand is that there are consequences and negative repercussions for their actions, not only personally but for the entire sporting world.

The consequences include, but are not limited to, expulsions, suspensions, fines, health problems and — not to forget — setting a bad example for children and teenagers who look up to these athletes.

A study published November 2012 in the journal Pediatrics reported that nearly 6 percent of middle school and high school girls and boys in the U.S have taken a steroid or growth hormone, which is quickly turning this issue from a sporting problem to a public health issue.

With all of these athletes using PEDs, we can’t tell who is and isn’t using. Even when athletes deny using them, like Armstrong did for so many years, we don’t know who is telling the truth. There are now many cases of athletes like Clemens and Bonds being called to testify in front of the grand jury and being charged with perjury for lying about their use of PEDs.

These days, when one sees a baseball player such as Josh Hamilton hit three home runs in a game or a football player such as Adrian Peterson rush for 2,000 yards in a season, they do not think as much about the player’s amazing athletic performance, but more about whether or not that player is performing so well because of an increased use of PEDs.

Question marks and asterisks are never good in sports since they will always leave the game in doubt. However, their increased presence in the results of games and record books plagues the sporting world today. With more and more players using PEDs, the game will never end — that’s just the truth.

 

Darian Nourian is a freshman majoring in print and digital journalism. 

 
  • William Buttrey

    I think the prevalence of such cheating may ultimately be the ruin of professional spectator sports.

    Professional sports of all stripes should create separate leagues; one free of performance enhancing drugs, and one where there are little or no restrictions. Players can choose which one they wish to compete in. Fans can choose which ones they find more enjoyable to watch. Championship games can be organized that pit the two (maybe with some sort of handicap for the non-doped competitors).

    Problem solved.

  • Cynic

    ANTI-DOPING, DRIVING, AND A BOX OF CHOCOLATES

    Life is like a box of chocolates. And doping in sport is like driving on the roads.

    To drive on the roads, drivers need to first learn the basics of operating their vehicle. And although every driver start from that common first step, how different drivers drive, what they drive in, where they drive to, and why they continue to drive varies.

    While majority of drivers will only ever drive locally, use a basic vehicle, and drive for practical reasons of getting to a destination, there will be a talented few that constantly practice their driving skills, upgrade to the latest and greatest specification for their vehicle, and compete with other drivers locally and internationally.

    Now in order for different drivers to compete, there must be some universally agreed rules. For example, all driver must agree that they will drive from point A to B to C, and not C to B to A. The problem comes when trying to agree on other competition rules.

    Now driving has been around for a long time. But as vehicle technology continue to improve, it enabled drivers with modified vehicles to drive faster and faster. This made driving exciting and the blossoming group of spectators that enjoyed watching the driving races.

    As technology improved, it meant that vehicles became cheaper. Driving was thus no longer restricted to the rich as cheaper vehicles became available. Everyone wanted a say in what driving is about, or ideally should be.

    Now because new technology for vehicle modification progressed far quicker than drivers’ and manufacturers’ understanding of the risk of new devices, some vehicles began to overheat during races and some even gave rise to spectacular explosions during competition. Well the sight of an exploding high powered vehicle understandably caused a certain amount of distress to some drivers, to many spectators, to the road owners, and also to race organisors. Although everyone intuitively knew that was part of the game and implicitly accepted this risk through complicity.

    Finally there came a time when a series of cars exploded during competition, and a public uproar ensued. So road owners and race organisors began instituting more competition rules. As a result of the new rules, in order for drivers to continue racing on those roads, they had to follow all the rules. Regardless if they personally agreed with it or not. They were never really consulted about it.

    Now initially the new rules were not all bad, in fact the foundations were very well intended. To protect drivers, the new speed rules were designed to prevent drivers’ vehicles from over heating and exploding. Since high speed was the main cause of over heating, the rule makers thought that the best way to protect drivers was by putting speed limits for the races. The reasoning was that the spirit of racing was such that it was the journey of how drivers get to the finish line that was important and not what speed they got there in.

    To police the speed limit, organisors, on prompting by road owners, begin putting up expensive speed cameras at various points in the race route. Because these speed cameras, many organisors could not afford it. So it was mainly in the big races that had it.

    Unfortunately, the rule makers also did not really think through the whole process on how their rules will work in real life. For example, even though most drivers knew that there was a speed limit, many did not know what that limit was. Also the speed limit also changed depending on which part of the race route they were on. Unfortunately, because there were not many speed limit sign posts along the route, or because some driver consciously ignored the few sign posts that were present, many drivers began to travel as high a speed as they feel comfortable with (and confident that their vehicle will not overheat), or trustingly followed the lead of other (more seasoned) drivers on the assumption that the old guns always knew what the speed limit is suppose to be.

    So now that the rules were there, many resumed enjoying the fast races between speed cameras. But not everyone was happy. A few indignant evangelists even began lobbying for more random mobile speed cameras to catch speeding drivers unawares. But when that measured also failed to control drivers speeding whenever possible, a new idea began to developed. This new idea was to institute a passport system to measure average speed of drivers. Under this new passport system, the time a driver crosses point A and point B is recorded. Their average speed can then calculated based on the time taken to travel between point A and B. Because this new passport system is new, no one knows if it will work. In any case, some drivers are unhappy with the costs and inconvenience of purchasing a new device to install in their vehicle for the passport system to work.

    Now, the organisors did not just stop with speed policing. Besides the original issue of overheating, many organisors were also concerned about protecting the image of their sport and on how competing vehicles looked like. Because of this, new rules were also enacted that cherry picked what vehicle modifications were legal and what were illegal. These modification rules were, unfortunately, not necessarily based on issues of overheating or even about speed. For example, some modifications were allowed if they were manufactured from a well known factory from country A, while there was a blanket ban on all backyard/non-factory modifications. While this would obviously make sense from a quality control and image perspective, it had nothing to do with overheating or with speed itself. This was because factory parts from “reputable” countries were not necessarily safe, and backyard parts were similarly not necessarily unsafe.

    And so many who loved the driving competition began to complain. Some support the idea or removing all speed and modification rules and contend that speed and modifications are what made driving competition exciting and is the true spirit of racing. But others argue that removing speed rules in driving races would encourage younger non competiting road users to speed on non competition roads.

    Advocate for race rules also argue that modification rules (and not speed rules per se) protect competiting drivers by preventing exploding vehicles. Others highlight the fact that modification rules do not necessarily address overheating issues,and the focus should be to allow all modifications to be legal but involve engineers and other professinals so that high speed driving can be monitored and done safely. By shifting the focus from speed and modification control to overheating control, they argue, could also allow new technologies on engine cooling to develop. This would be useful for all drivers, and not just competing drivers.

    And so the debate rages on and nobody knows what chocolate they will get the next time they pick one out from the box.