I think that athletes who get caught doping shouldn’t be allowed to compete again, ever.
I’ve heard numerous arguments for the other side, for leniency and even acceptance of doping in sports, and for a while I actually agreed.
Because doping is so prevalent in all major sports, particularly in individual events, and with such a blurred line between what drugs are allowed and what drugs aren’t, it seems futile to attempt to combat drugs in the first place.
Take the NFL for example. Players are constantly on a dangerous mixture of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs that often violate federal drug laws and regulations. It could be argued that these concoctions can actually be more useful than any steroid, since some players would be unable to play week in and week out without them.
So what’s to say that these doctor-prescribed competitive aides are any better than steroids, which in many cases are also recommended by doctors and organizational leaders?
I would argue that the difference is intent. Painkillers and drugs like them are used when a player who has already been competing is hurting but wants to continue to help their team/country. Steroid use is often more selfishly motivated because it represents a premeditated attempt by a player to gain more skill or strength than they would otherwise have.
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) seems to agree with me. Since 1968, they’ve stripped a total of 148 medals from athletes caught doping. The majority of these medals have been reallocated to the athletes who would’ve won them had the dopers not participated (aka their rightful owners).
While this is the right decision in my opinion, it doesn’t right all wrongs. Put yourself, for a minute, in the shoes of a fourth-place Olympic athlete who was awarded a medal long after the games due to the discovery that the bronze medalist had been doping.
While you’d probably feel proud of the medal, you certainly wouldn’t experience the same sort of elation that you would have had you won it during the games. Additionally, you likely would have missed out on possible sponsorship deals and other immeasurable gains by not being recognized as a medal winner until long afterwards.
Recently, the IOC banned Russia from competing in the upcoming Winter Olympics, while simultaneously creating a provision for Russian athletes (who have not been found guilty of doping) to compete under the Olympic flag, albeit with far stricter drug testing requirements.
Given the fact that Russia has been stripped of four times as many medals as the next-closest country, and given that they’ve been found guilty of sponsoring the use of performance enhancing drugs in athletics, it seems that this decision is more than fair.
In fact, I would argue that this ban ought to be extended to the next summer games as well, given the fact that doping is a much larger issue in events such as athletics (track and field) and weightlifting (each account for about a third of total stripped medals all time).
Still, the fact that Russia’s anthem and flag will be missing from the games is, I’m sure, a blow to the country’s ego. Only time will tell if it was enough to prevent future doping.
The bottom line is, what’s been done so far in sports hasn’t been enough. Year in and year out, new athletes test positive in one sport or another.
That’s why I think dopers shouldn’t ever be let back in. Because they know what they’re doing is wrong, they’re aware of the repercussions and they continue to do it.
And in my opinion, cheating defeats the purpose of sports altogether. The only way to truly win is to know that you deserved it
Tyler Dean is a junior studying business administration.