Thursday, 28 July 2011

The truth about drugs in sport

On the day London was marking a year to go until the 2012 Olympics officially start, Britain's most successful current sports star had an interview published in l'Equipe, the French sports paper. In a typically candid interview, Mark Cavendish, the winner of the Green points jersey in this year's Tour de France, expressed his annoyance at the tarnished reputation cycling has because of previous doping scandals. He then went further to say "(It annoys me) that they only talk about it (doping) in relation to cycling, while everyone cheats anywhere there is money to be won."

Although athletes don't win money directly for their medals won at the Olympic Games, the rewards through sponsorships and endorsements have never been so great. Cycling, quite rightly, has been forced to face up to a very dark past, changing its culture and becoming transparent in its testing procedures. This goes as far to individual teams posting physiological data of their riders on-line thus allowing anyone to look for suspicious peaks in data ahead of the big events.  

It would be fantastic if next Summer this 'biological passport' was adopted more widely so we can all get excited about records tumbling and exploits of previous also-rans finally winning through, without a nagging doubt in our minds as to how this has been achieved. In business and in government the trend is towards ever greater transparency so why not in sport?

The easy answer to this question is to look toward the sports administrators who are about as transparent as a brick wall, but perhaps with pressure from sponsors and the public something can be achieved in the next 365 days? With planning and the right technology it is easy to do, and would allow us all to look forward to the 2012 Games in certainty that the super-human endeavours of the athletes before us really were the result of hard work and dedication rather than the latest super-drug.    

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