Aiming for gold in Rugby or leaning towards moral degradation

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Aiming for gold in Rugby or leaning towards moral degradation’

[by Jo Clarence]

‘Organised doping is nothing new in professional/international sport. For as long as competition has existed, man has tried to find ways to win at all costs, even if that is necessarily through illicit means. Consider though a sobering thought-sport nowadays is by and large professional. It’s a business. In commerce, there is a word for conduct which elicits a favourable outcome (usually financial) – it is called fraud. In sport the, the use of prohibited performance drugs is congruent to fraud’.  (Quoted from The Specialist Forum, February’ 2013, Vol. 13).

The Up, Up and Away team is conducting a research survey at present and one of the questions is; “Do you think that using steroids to improve sports performance is cheating (explain)?” One of the answers that I received back was “In theory yes, but if 90% are doing the same, why not? Fair is fair.” Another person replied “ No, I do not think it’s cheating because all the top athletes in sport, (I was in athletics) are currently using or have used in the past. Just because someone has not been caught, it does not mean they are not using. Just like in all medicine there are daily improvements in concealing steroids in sport. For every one steroid that can be tested for there are at least 2 that cannot be traced as yet. These along with the fact that some countries sporting bodies assist their athletes conceal use and hide from testers.”

This comment was supported by Dr Ross Tucker of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.

“We are naive to think that simply testing for a substance, either in or out of competition, was going to catch cheats and dissuade potential cheats. It’s just to easy to avoid detection, and the effect of drugs persist long after the drug is gone.”

A biological passport has been developed to find the physiological affects on the body, rather than the substance. The athlete is tracked over time and this allows the powers that be to get a “fingerprint” of the future changes to be detected in the context of the individuals physiology.”

Back to the question of is it cheating or are you a fraud if you are using substances to improve your performance even if others are doing it?

Why does one dope to start off with, some say to be accepted, to fit in or to be part of something. If an individual is caught stealing at school, cheating in an exam or cheating on their partner, the most common response from their community would be to reject them, ignore them or have little to do with them. So why is it okay to cheat in sport then? My goal is to create an awareness around this profoundly destructive habit that has become the ‘norm’, as the implications of this kind of behaviour has far more reaching consequences than for the sport alone.  It has a negative affect on the individuals entire life.  Using the Hansie Cronje saga his greed and need to cheat lead to the moral downfall of two of his young, vulnerable and impressionable team mates, Hershel Gibbs and Nicky Boje. To quote Tyler Hamilton in ‘ The Secret Race’, there was an unwritten agreement, that in order to be part of the US Postal Team, members needed to be doping, i.e, using Testosterone patches, taking EPO and having blood transfusions. This behaviour ultimately led to the unequivocal downfall of some team members and post profoundly of Lance Armstrong. These fallen heroes are disliked, dishonoured and rejected by society and the rest of their followers. Hamilton’s finances came to a halt, his marriage failed, the peloton wanted nothing to do with him and he had to leave the town he was living in for fear of what the community would do to him. So is it all worth it?

Your views and opinions are invaluable for the onward research of this survey, please ad your views in the comments column. The survey is anonymous and if you know of anyone who is willing to participate, please complete the survey and return it to upupandaway@telkomsa.net.

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