I logged onto CNN.com this morning to read about another potential doping scandal in sports. This time it was in cycling.
According to CNN, Spanish officials have linked some of the Tour De France’s top riders, including tour favorite Jan Ulrich to drug doping (CNN.com).
For now I will reserve judgment on this particular story, since Lance Armstrong was wrongfully accused by Dick Pound and L’Equipe last year.
It seems that on a weekly basis sports fans are hearing stories about drugs in sports. Today’s stories are about human growth hormones, steroids, drug doping and other performance enhancing drugs.
As a sports fan I’m outraged and saddened by these scandals. I personally want to see fair play in sports. I don’t have to see records being broken. I also want the best athlete/team to win by playing within the rules.
So who’s to blame? I think a number of parties need to take some responsibility.
1) Professional Sports Teams & Governing Bodies – There’s a lot of pressure put on athletes to break records. Most professional athletes have incentives tied to their contracts. If they hit certain targets or set records they can earn a lot more money.
Amateur athletes can change their lives forever by setting records, earning championships, etc. They can go on to professional sports where lucrative contracts exist.
Sports franchises and their governing bodies have historically turned a blind eye to sports doping, steroids, etc. Their teams and leagues flourished and fans poured into the stands.
Why would they want to rock the boat? Well I guess integrity, ethics, morality and fair play come to mind.
It’s time for professional and amateur sports leagues and associations to get tough with the athletes that cheat. I believe in lifetime bans for cheaters who take performance enhancing drugs.
2) The Fan – Yes we are must take some of the blame. If it weren’t for the fan demanding more records or faster and stronger athletes, sports teams wouldn’t feel the need to turn a blind eye to performance enhancing drugs.
Fans are so focused on winning. They will not tolerate failure with their sports teams. Fans stop attending games, matches and competitions when their teams or favorite athletes don’t do well.
This puts unfair pressure on athletes, sports franchises and leagues/associations.
3) The media. It’s all about hype today. This hype apparently leads to better ratings. The sports media want to see records being broken. They also want to see superhuman athletes.
When scandals break, the sports media acts shocked and they react harshly. I also think that in the past the media unintentionally failed to report on potential scandals until it’s too late.
Now I think that the media is waking up. Now they are looking for the next scandal to come their way.
4) The cheating athlete – The athlete that cheat’s is the most culpable in my mind. They’re the ones taking the drugs and making the decision to play unfairly.
No one’s putting a gun to their head. What about playing sports for the love of the game and not for the greenback.
It’s time for sports athletes to take a stand against any form of cheating.
Today’s athletes are so consumed about money that they will do anything to win. I would like to see athletes playing their sport for the absolute love of the game. That should be the motivating factor. If you do well and end up profiting from it, great. If not, at least you’ll have the satisfaction that you did your best, enjoyed the competition and played within the rules.