The foundation of this magazine was based on a passion not only for sports, but also for the nerdier, less discussed side of sports. The way that new technologies are being used in competitive environments is always interesting. However, what we are also nding is that the same drive to improve performance through new training techniquesis also being used in the more nefarious aspects of sport.
We have recently seen this through the use of performance enhancing drugs in athletics, a revelation that has shocked the press, even if it was a widely known secret, but little discussed beforehand.
With the Russian Athletics Association currently banned from competing, and requiring a complete overhaul to become eligible to compete at the 2016 Olympic games, the problem is clear. It has even been claimed that there was either support, or active ignorance of the athletes’ actions from the Russian state.
It begs the question of why, when other sports have managed to clean themselves up, that athletics has not.
I believe the answer is simple, athletics is only semi-professionalized. This is not me saying that athletes are not professional, but that when they compete, it is generally for their country, not a commercial team. This, combined with testing being conducted by national bodies, means that there is a conflict of interest.
When you look at sports like cycling, where performance enhancing drugs were once endemic, a uni ed system has meant that every single professional rider is tested to the same standards regardless of the country they come from. You can’t imagine that the doping controls in Kenya could be at the same level as the US, simply because Kenya is a much poorer country. Their GDP is $55 billion compared to $16 Trillion in the US, so their programme is never going to be as thorough.
There is also the element of governmental pressure, which doesn’t exist in united systems. It is very simple to see that it is in the government’s interest to have their athletes win because it makes their citizens happy. This therefore gives them a theoretical reason to actually support their athletes using performance enhancing substances, yet they have ultimate control over the organizations tasked with stopping them doing it.
Is this something that could be solved though?
It is difficult as there is no single organization which have the influence and money to monitor the entire world and there is no framework in which professional, multi-national athletics teams can be created. Unless this is solved or the entire system is revamped globally, this may be something we continue to see.