Spurred on by an increased pressure to win and gain a competitive advantage, are the sports stars of today disregarding their ethical values and the integrity of sport by choosing to use performance enhancing drugs (ref 1).
The last few decades have seen a steady increase in the number of professional sports stars using steroids with an increased volume of ‘doping’ (ref) scandals being reported at various sporting events around the world.
Reported cases include the Olympic Sprinter, Ben Johnson being stripped of his gold medal (ref) in 1988, the professional cyclist, Lance Armstrong being stripped of his titles, sponsors and association with his own charity (ref) in 2012 to the controversy surrounding the Russian Athletic Team’s ban from International competitions in (ref) November 2015 due to ‘state-sponsored doping'(ref).
“Ethical misuses in the 21st century sport industry are more prominent and deliver greater impact then ever before”.
Whilst these individual influences may well be characterised and judged differently across the various sporting platforms, we may well not be able to dispute the fact that an increase in the use of steroids (ref) will bring irreversible collateral damage.
The disgraced sports star who is found guilty of doping may well be seen to have displayed no remorse toward the impact it has on their chosen sport and that the desire to win far outweighs the adverse effect that a suspension, large fine or even a lifetime ban would have on their personal life.
‘The athlete’s image is actually the product'(Sports Marketing book) with many consumers being influenced by a ‘celebrity status’ and ‘knowing that a celebrity uses a particular brand can create a perception of that brand based on the celebrity’s image’.
Believe it or not, the fact remains that we are now hearing and learning about these cases on a more regular and wider scale and with a higher frequency of steroid use, surely the likelihood of a professional sports star being caught will increase and that the detrimental impact that this will have on sport in general will decrease?
On the contrary, there are many who may argue that this will not be the case due to the low and amount of action being taken and punishment being handed out by the Sports governing bodies.
The president of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation), former Olympic Champion, Lord Sebastian Coe, was quoted as saying he “is determined to prove athletics’ world governing body is committed to ridding the sport of drug cheats”.
Figures provided by WADA’s (World Anti Doping Agency) Executive Summary in 2017, records a 7.1% increase in the number of overall anti-doping testing samples analysed and a 7.75% increase in the number of ABP (Athlete Biological Passport) blood samples analysed however, this report also records a 1.60% decrease in the number of AAF’s (Anabolic Androgenic Steroids).
Figures like those above may actually indicate that the governing bodies are being pro-active and looking for a way forward to tackle the ever increasing problem of performance enhancing drugs within sport.
A more recent punishment handed out by the IAAF was that on September 30th of this year when Alberto Salazar’s (the legendary American distance coach who guided Mo Farah to six world titles and four Olympic gold medals)World Championship accreditation was deactivated after he was found to have trafficked testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance to multiple athletes.
Nevertheless, in contrast, the sophisticated sports star may use prohibited substances around the ‘off-season’ and the use may take place in remote locations that may prove difficult for governing body officers to access and control.
From missed marketing opportunities to tarnishing the credibility of the individuals chosen sport and, at the same time, jeopardising the reputation of sport on a wider scale, will the ‘spirit of sport’ be protected by the governing bodies or will we witness sports stars cheating on a more regular basis?
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