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The doping saga continues: will it ever stop?

Over the last decade, the stories of doping in sport by athletes have become far more prominent. Modern journalists get a lot of stick from the public for constantly probing athletes about their deeds rather than focussing on their “achievements”, but it is the reality of the current day. After arguably the most famous case of cheating in sport came to light through the fall from grace of Lance Armstrong, many people felt that it would be a glaring red light in the face of athletes in terms of ever trying doping. However, as always, predictions are b******t. Sir Bradley Wiggins is the latest “victim”, as he puts it, of a search from the authorities into the deeds of his storied career. This begs the question, if this story is true, why do athletes still dope?

In these scenarios, judgements are made about the character of the people involved. “They must have personality issues, they must be mentally unstable in that moment.” These are criticisms that are banded out regularly when the truth comes out. I may be in danger of being accused of giving athletes an easy ride, but we have to look every single component of sport to come to a conclusion. You will be regarded as highly deluded if you do not agree that sport is a very lucrative industry at the minute. As much as we would like to be seen as a humble and valued human being, the quest for fortune is huge for many of us. The difference in prize money for a winner and loser in sport today has just got wider and wider. Rod Laver, the great tennis champion, stated that after winning one of his Wimbledon titles, he got “a £15 voucher and a firm handshake.” Now, with the rewards being so astronomical for winners, athletes look any advantage that could see them cross the finish line before anyone else. The saying of “all is fair in love and war” certainly rings true in this scenario as athletes can easily be blinded by the lure of victory. Therefore, it has to be noticed that money plays a huge part in doping today, but it cannot be the only reason. There are still people who play “for the love of the game”, so what is the reason for them to “cross the ethical line”?

Bradley Wiggins

Added to the obvious monetary benefits in sport, there can be no denying that sport is becoming like a business more and more. The structure of sporting federations and clubs clearly portrays that and even the management of players involves a huge entourage. Roger Federer once joked that he had to make the quarter-finals of every tournament to break even with paying the salaries of coaches, agents and everyone involved. So there are people’s jobs on the line and there is a sense of responsibility for the athlete. This adds pressure and often bosses demand success in an instant. Not every athlete is blessed with the talent to win as soon as they turn professional and hard work for years is required to reach the pinnacle. Unfortunately, this time is not given to everyone and this leads to athletes taking a dark route to winning. There is already huge pressure an athlete puts on themselves to succeed, the chiefs in charge of them only add to that. Essentially, their role is to alleviate the pressures and make the athletes think about nothing other than the sport. However, it is clear to see that this isn’t the case.

Now I am not saying Wiggins is guilty or innocent. More information has to come out to the public domain before a decision is made. But, rather than making judgements about Wiggins, look at the way sport operates and the importance we place on it. The pressure to win may be the downfall for athletes in more ways than one.