Lets be honest here, taking drugs to improve performance isn’t a spur-of-the-moment mistake, its a well planned and thought out way of cheating. It’s not like they are sold over the counter at your local chemists (or are they? ) People often say they don’t want to see druggies representing their country (wherever they are from) and so they should be banned for life, but can athletes that take performance enhancing drugs be labeled as druggies. Their physically fit in shape and generally healthy, everything a typical idea of a druggie isn’t.
Lifetime bans could produce fewer convictions, because harsher punishment means greater “burden of proof” First, the reality is that a lifetime ban represents the harshest possible punishment for an athlete, for it takes away their livelihood, often without a fall-back plan (ask a 26-year-old cyclist what their second career option is, for example). It is, literally, a case of “off with their heads”, because you may as well do this. Now, in order to do this fairly, you have to be absolutely, 100% certain that you are punishing a person who deserves it.
And sadly, the science is, as of this moment, not able to provide those guarantees, and there is always some doubt if an athlete wants to contest the origin of a doping positive. So ask the following: “If there is a 2% chance of a false positive test, then how comfortable are we issuing lifetime bans? ” Then ask: “If there is a 10% chance of the positive dope test being the result of contamination of supplements, then are we comfortable with a lifetime ban? Now, imagine being the decision maker who has to evaluate a legal case where the athlete says: “I do not contest the positive dope test, but my defence is that it came from a supplement (or meat). I was therefore not cheating. ” Can you confidently judge and condemn this person as a cheat? Given the science of anti-doping today, and the complexity of these cases, I’d argue that you simply cannot make this decision, and if your punishment option is to hand out a lifetime ban, I’d argue that you’re far less likely to find dopers guilty when presented with this defence!
We do not want our young people looking up to people who use drugs, but we also do not want to give those who are in admired positions of proposed authority to be forgiven of their sins. However, we are more than willing to allow those who use illicit street drugs a second and third, sometimes even a fourth chance at resolving themselves from what, these days, is being regarded as a disease instead of what it started out as- a very poor personal choice on the person who is now using.
Steroids are not safe. We all know this. Use of these sorts of drugs, when not prescribed for an actual ailment, cause more damage than good. We do not like when our heroes are found out to simultaneously be human as well as talented. It is far easier to see this sort of behavior when it is displayed by a rock star or a spoiled rich kid, but when it is our heroes, we want to punish them severely, and more so than we would if the person in question were some street hooligan with no hope for a future.
We will gladly help the hooligan, because that makes us a hero. We have helped a person lift themselves out of a personal and spiritual poverty and in the process have been given the chance to tell the world that because of something that we did, whether it is directly or indirectly, that person is now, in the eyes of better society, whole again, and it was all due to something we did for them.
We are more willing to uplift an entire population of people who cannot even remember their name rather than allow those who could be the example of having done the bad thing, and now, after a lot of work and LOTS of apologizing, be the example that they were cut out to be. I say let them have a second and third chance at it all. And why not? We let crack heads, meth heads, alcoholics and wife beaters do it. Why not someone who has access to the media who can truly be the role model that they did not ask to be when they signed those multi-million dollar contracts?
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