Sports Panel: What sports do you feel are doing the best job of policing doping?
I see the governing bodies of the international sporting arena doing a much better job with drug control than the big-time commissions in the states. The NFL, MLB, NHL, and others are big businesses; they are not going to go out of their way to spotlight the flaws in their system. They know we desire those instances when the athletic performance appears superhuman or cyborg (part human and part machine); in a way the U.S. consumer subconsciously sanctions doping. The International Olympic Committee, on the other hand, is more concerned with the pureness of sport.Bode Miller, world champion and Olympic medalist ski racer, mentions in his biography that drug screeners would drop by his house unannounced, even in the summer. Part of our incompetence is that everyone has their own definition of fair sport. Would it be fair if Floyd Landis won Tour De France on a bike worth $10,000 when the bicyclist in second place had a Huffy? When do athletes become cyborgs?
Policing doping used to be left to the DEA, but now every sport needs drug dogs in the locker rooms to sniff out cheaters. Neither cycling nor baseball are doing a great job keeping it under control because the participants keep cheating and the public keeps hearing about it. The league that is fishy to me is the NFL. In a sport where size and speed are essential commodities, steroids is not a big issue. Players, and even coaches, are suspended over it, but the public has no outcry over it. If 150-pound cyclists are doping, how can a 300-pound defensive lineman who runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash not be doping at all? Maybe the TV show Playmakers hit a little too close to home for the NFL and thats why they forced ESPN pull the show after one season? Oh well, Go Broncos!
Dopey? The little guy in Snow Whites crew? Oh, dopING! Lets see: not the NFL, which awards a suspended steroids user a spot in the Pro Bowl because he leads the league in sacks; certainly not WWF (Which Wasted Fool will die next?); track and field was years ahead of everyone in steroid use, so theyre out; is there still an NHL? Gary Player says the golf locker rooms arent needle-proof, so that leaves, um bass fishing, bowling, and oh yeah, the NBA! Whats a little betting scandal involving referees?Yep, the NBA gets my vote no dope there, just dopes who choke coaches and go into the stands after fans, and oh, whats the use? Bring back Richard Nixon and the War on Drugs. Go team! One at a time into this little paper cup.
For the last 30 years or so, steroids and drug abuse has been in the spotlight of sports. Two big stories in the last year have been Barry Bonds and his steroid usage to hit his home runs, and more recent is Floyd Landis losing his 2006 Tour De France medal due to the usage of performance-enhancing drugs. The question is what leagues are doing the best with substance abuse policies? In my mind, the National Football League has done the best job of taking control of these situations. If theres any use of steroids or enhancing drugs its an automatic suspension and fine. Even the usage of illegal drugs or alcohol, the league throws out fines and even suspensions due to the extremity of the offense. Itll be interesting how the policies change from year to year. On a side note, Barry Bonds did not re-sign with the San Francisco Giants, so itll be interesting to see which teams look to sign him after all the steroids controversy.
Curling. Curling hasnt had a doping conviction *ever*, and those guys are clean as a whistle. Sure, they might take nip of the ol brandy now and then that ice gets COLD! but when you see that 45-pound puck spinning on the ice, and those fellows with the brooms, youre not seeing anything but pure, unadulterated human athletic productivity. That is, if you count Canadians as human.But seriously were in no position to judge which sports are doing the best job policing doping. The sport of cycling has been humiliated and destroyed: Is that because everyone dopes, or because the administrative bodies are vigilant about policing it? You never hear about a doping scandal in the NBA, but do you really believe its because those guys are saints?
Doping both performance-enhancing steroids and recreational drugs like marijuana is as difficult to police in sports as it is in our society.Certainly, extraordinary individual performances of Landis and Bonds, bike racing and home run hitting, are easier to detect than with body builder types competing in team sports.It might appear that contact sports encourage more use of recreational drugs. Pro football players are regularly suspended for a game or two for drug use. Its not as noticeable in hockey. Does this mean better policing or greater leniency?Anyway, the rhetorical question to answer the question might be: Is the sport with the least reported doping activity policing it more or simply allowing more to go unpunished?If it IS a sport, NASCAR has done best. It has enforced its zero tolerance policy by banning offenders for life! Hence, a clean driver is a safer driver!
I dont think any particular sport is really taking this matter seriously and clamping down on their athletes. Steroids make the sport more interesting to watch. Just in the news they did a story on Operation Raw Deal, where they have a list of athletes that have purchased steroids from an underground network that was busted this weekend. Once these names are released, hundreds of athletes will be caught. What can we really do? I think the real problem with todays sports is the need to be the best and the pressure put on athletes to win. If we had strong policies in sports, they would drug test athletes more often. I never hear of that happening.
The whole doping issue is out of control in every sport. Cycling has reached the point were it is so tainted, it is hard to take seriously. Baseball policy is too late and Bud Selig let the steroids issue get so far out of control that the repercussions may be irreversible.I think that the Olympic committee has the best handle of the situation, almost to the point were they have become stalkers and track down athletes at all times to test them. Its hard to pin down a specific sport because I feel like it just sucks all the way around. The whole Shawn Merriman issue in the NFL was horrible, but I think Roger Goodell will get control of doping.I guess that still leaves cycling and baseball as the worst, with all titles, records and each move they make being questioned.
Cyclings a joke. A heap of tarnished, chemically enhanced records have sullied the fine game of baseball. Track and field dopers are still somewhat prevalent.Im not sure there is a sport policing this stuff as effectively as it could. And how can they? Modern medicine while spectacular in so many facets will always keep the cheaters ahead of the game. Designer drugs will always be developed as long as theres a market, and it seems everybodys always looking for some kind of edge.
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