Success – at what price?

The sordid issue of drugs in sport takes us back to the Dubin Inquiry in Canada following the Ben Johnson episode at the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, 1988. The Inquiry revealed that the physician involved in the case, Dr Jaime Astaphan, appeared to have suggested that athletes were taking drugs to enhance their performances anyway and it was better that they did so under the supervision of a qualified physician rather than risk injuring themselves by doing it without such assistance.

Interestingly, despite the fact that WADA has made significant strides in the unearthing of drug cheats in sport there seems to be little reduction in the incidence of such cases in the many sports being practised today.

Recent revelations by one of the greats of golf indicates that he has been informed by two current players of the game that they have used drugs to better their performance in the field.

For some time we have had revelations that the sport of Tennis has been tainted somewhat by the use of drugs by some of its athletes.

The sports of archery and shooting have also come under scrutiny for the possible use of marijuana by some athletes to steady their nerves while competing.

In athletics there has been a recent trend towards checking long distance athletes for the use of EPO, the same drug used by some cyclists involved in endurance events.

Many are today asking the question, who is to blame?

Many international sports federations insist that the athlete is responsible for what is found in his/her body when tested. The athletes claim, at least initially, that they never knowingly took the drugs found in their bodies. Coaches and physicians are rarely called upon to offer explanations for and on behalf of the athletes who have been caught in the widening drug net.