Friday, February 08, 2013

Where's the Harm?

The Australian media is aghast over what has been called the "blackest day in Australian sport.” Half a length behind the Lance Armstrong doping scandle comes the news from the Australian Crime Commission of widespread drug use in professional Australian sport.

Worse than a conclave of Catholic bishops pontificating about the evils of artificial contraception, politicians past and present, sporting administrators and commentators have been calling for names to be named, rules to be strengthened and civil penalties for those who don’t co-operate.

What is all the fuss about? It’s only sport, for God’s sake. You know, that spectacle designed to entertain, divert and sell more beer during the commercial breaks.  

The integrity of sporting prowess is almost as antiquated as competing in the nude.  Science has long been a handmaiden to sporting success. You can wear it, ride it, drive it but you can’t inject it. Why the hell not?

It only makes for an unlevel playing field when the practice is outlawed. And with only winners being grinners the pressure to perform is immense. Even “clean” professional athletes have a lifestyle that is seriously removed from that of a normal citizen. Swimming star Michael Phelps daily food intake when in training would have kept 6 normal people well away from anorexia. 

Like the”highly successful” war on drugs this sporting prohibition encourages the bad guys to become involved. It’s just a short hop, step and a jump for them to use the blackmail that supply offers for other nefarious deeds which may well have deleterious effects on the beloved spectacle. 

This report suggests that it is the good apples not the bad that are in short supply. Perhaps the smart move is to allow athletes to choose their poison as they and their coaches see fit. After all it is the spectacle that fans come to see and if a jab in the bum can make for higher, faster, stronger performances where’s the harm?