Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Saying "Nope" to the "Dope"

The past three months have been pretty crazy. I've written stuff, I was in a short film, and I've networked a ton. I am back with a bunch of knowledge, and a hinkerin' for some sports commentary. Let's have some fun.

You know what's really dope? Being an Olympian.
You know what isn't dope? Doping. Clearly.

The Summer Olympics in Rio are less than three months away, meaning that we will be gifted with two weeks worth of sporting insanity before we know it. (Cue up those tympani, kids.) As a safety precaution by the World Anti-Doping Agency, they have conducted tests on medal winners from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games. While many of them passed through without much issue over the course of multiple testing practices, the run of tests conducted on the samples of medalists after the London Games have evidence that could possibly change the face of Rio and future Games to come.

While the names of the athletes and the countries that they represent haven't been released as of yet, a number of reports are pointing to athletes from Russia, as their drug testing and submission practices have been deemed sketchy, allegedly doing somewhat of a "bait-and-switch" technique to ensure passing drug tests. (It's seriously dirty--the fourth link at the end of the post will take you to the source.) Due to the amount of failed drug tests not only from the alleged Russian athletes in question but from other athletes worldwide, investigations have been opened with aid from the IOC, and a whole new can of worms in the world of doping has been opened and dished.

The thing that needs to be noted before I move further with any other opinions and statements is this: There is actually a chance that, by this time next month, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will make the decision on whether Russia will be allowed to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. This is a big deal. We've seen countries barred from the Games before, but when it's a powerhouse country like Russia (which, well, had it's thing with being a superpower, especially when it was referred to as the USSR, but that's another story) possibly being shut out of the Games, you're going to see a lot more surveillance and a lot more crackdowns. In fact, you might be seeing a heck of a lot more lawsuits stemming from the IAAF's decision.

You tend to wonder what is in the thought processes of these doctors and trainers that administer these supplements to athletes. I'm pretty sure they know what is appropriate and what is, and I'm more than certain that they know the consequences if the athlete fails a drug test. Plus, I don't believe that any sane athlete would want to jeopardize their careers with a big hairy blip such as a failed drug test. Now, note: the list of banned substances for athletes is actually very large. Of course, you have the standard PEDs and steroids, but you also have to remember that marijuana and adderall--even if you've been prescribed this and use it medically--also fall into the category. You have to be straight-up clean of anything that will affect your performance to the point where it enhances your physical ability or even reaction time.
[Which, if I'm understanding this correctly, you won't see someone like USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard failing any drug tests for competitions, since any medication that he takes actually treats and curbs symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Tourette's, and not exponentially enhancing his performance otherwise.]

Whether the PED drug use is intentional in these athletes or not, it has become a ridiculous, widespread issue.  For instance, in an even smaller scale, there have been a number of MLB players who have been slammed with 80-game suspensions this year due to testing positive for a form of anabolic steroid. Are they fully aware of what's going into their system at a given time? Heck, is it even in what they eat? It very well could be that, too, but sometimes it's just rotten luck if you're a meat-eater that consumes products with other "things" being injected into them. Like, there's no filter based on those factors, and the drug-testing policies in professional sports aren't meant to be flimsy. When it comes to something like the Olympics, there are going to be a metric ton of flaming hoops and spike pits and shark tanks abound in order to make sure that every athlete coming through is all-natural and truly the best in what they do.

The sad part about this is, is that this problem can't entirely be curbed. What it boils down to is that sports is a business, and athletes are employees that want to get the best results and get the paycheck they believe they deserve. This also applies to athletic trainers, agents, and the organizations in which they are a part of. This isn't to say that every single athlete, agent, trainer, etc is dishonest or a shyster; but you'll have to admit that there are a lot of apples that spoil the bunch and ruin it for others. There will always be some blip on the radar, whether the doping is intentional or accidental. When I mean accidental, I mean unknowingly eating the substance like steroids in meats or the case of American judoka Nicholas Delpopolo, who stated after his ban from the 2012 Games that he didn't know there was pot baked in what he was eating. I wish I were making that story up. But anyway, there is always a dishonest downside to the honest athletes that train for this four-year event.

There are people that enjoy the athleticism and passion of sports such as myself. But sometimes, we are subjected to the dirty side of it all, because the passion of others may stem from something else that isn't so pure, and suddenly, the athleticism doesn't seem so real. It may not even be dreamlike, either. But still, we push on, and hope to not rely on the fake stuff to be the athlete that kids look up to.

That's a dream we should be working toward.

-- Stephanie

(Here's the stuff I read up on before this post. Enjoy. 1, 2, 3, 4)