Olympic Athletes Were Using Plenty of Drugs in London: Why Don't We Let Them Use the Safe Ones?
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Did the British Olympic Association admonish Wiggins for any foolish and clearly inappropriate social media use in his promotion of drug overdose? No, in fact, they praised him. ”He is absolutely thoroughly entitled to have a fantastic party and celebrate,” BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said. ”Nobody deserves it more.”
… while banning the safest recreational drug
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) maintains a list of prohibited substances for athletes. Making that list depends on meeting two of the following three criteria:
- It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance
- It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete
- It violates the spirit of sport
Alcohol certainly matches #2 – it definitely is a health risk to the athletes. As for #1, a performance enhancer, the American College of Sports Medicine says “low amounts of alcohol (0.02-0.05g/dL) can result in decreased hand tremors, improved balance and throwing accuracy and a clearer release in archery.” But only archery, karate and motor sports ban alcohol use in competition (pg 9). In fact, you can legally compete drunk in every other sport, as Russian high jump gold medalist Ivan Ukhov did back in 2008. As for #3, violating the spirit of sport, if the spirit of sport is to celebrate the fittest and finest in human achievement, how does promoting the abuse of one of the most harmful drugs to humans not violate that spirit?
In its anti-doping code, the US Anti-Doping Agency notes that cannabinoids are a banned substance in all forms, whether it’s an illegal joint of homegrown or a legal Marinol pill. “USADA strongly advises athletes not to use cannabinoids at any time,” they explain on the same sheet that counsels athletes they can get a “therapeutic use exemption” for the medical use of stimulants and narcotics.
Let the best natural athletes compete!
Such an exemption might be beneficial to the athletes in 17 states that recognize medical use of marijuana, but one must question if alcohol use is accepted and encouraged why should cannabis be banned for anything but moral reasons? Nobody claims marijuana use “enhances sport performance” unless it’s the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and it certainly provides far less “health risk to the athlete” than alcohol.
As for the nebulous “spirit of sport” rule, what deflates the spirit of sport more than knowing the best natural competitors aren’t competing? USA Wrestling failed to even advance beyond the first round in Women’s 72kg when USA’s Ali Bernard lost 3-1 to Sweden’s Jenny Fransson. Would the woman who dominated her in the USA trials, Stephany Lee, have advanced? We’ll never know, because she was suspended for a positive test for cannabis. In judo, Men’s 73kg judoka Nick Delpopolo had his seventh place finish vacated when he tested positive for cannabis metabolites. Does the athlete who’s now the seventh place finisher and his country feel any more proud? And how different would Olympic history be if the proof of Michael Phelps’ cannabis use was metabolites on an Olympics anti-doping test and not a photo in a British tabloid?