“He’s a cheat!”

“He should be banned for life!”

“He is a disgrace!”

We’ve all heard these things. People take a very dim view when sportspeople take “drugs” to enhance their performance on the field, court, track etc.

The kind of drug doesn’t seem to matter. When the drug was taken doesn’t seem to matter. The circumstance in which the drug was taken doesn’t seem to matter. It is all considered cheating and the people who do it are all labelled “dopers” or “cheats”.

But hang on a minute…

I work in an office. I work with numbers all day, most days. I am a professional number cruncher if you will. It is my job to do budgets, write reports and analyse data for decision making purposes.

I also have ADD. Some days are worse than others. Some days I can’t even string twenty minutes of work together without losing focus and potentially making a hash of things. So I take a performance enhancing substance. I take Ritalin, 20mg a day, slow release capsules. They allow me to perform my work at optimum capacity. I get the numbers right. I don’t make many mistakes. I don’t make a hash of things.

Now my company doesn’t care if I take Ritalin, as long as I do my job properly. They don’t call me a cheat and ban me from working with numbers for five years. They don’t consider me a “doper”.

Rugby is a professional business. It is no longer an amateur sport played by butchers, accountants and landscape gardeners. It is played by professional rugby players. Rugby is their job. It is their livelihood. If a player is injured he cannot do his job. If he can’t do his job then he can’t get paid. He can’t provide for his family. His career is short. What options does he have? So what is different between the professional rugby player and the professional number cruncher?

I don’t think there is any difference to be frank. I believe that if a player is injured and has the opportunity to speed up his recovery by getting an injection, he should take it and not be punished for it. It’s an archaic way of thinking. If it is done under the supervision of a doctor and is not harmful to the player then why is it considered wrong?

I recently read an article concerning a doping hearing concerning Andre Russell. He plays cricket… A Sri Lankan player was recently banned as well, Perera I think it was…

Cricket, that game where people stand around in a field whilst a bowler runs in and throws a ball at a guy who tries to hit it with a piece of wood. I love cricket. I’ve enjoyed playing it and watching it my whole life. Do I care if the cricketers are taking some or other banned substance? No, quite frankly I don’t. I care if they’re actually cheating, like losing on purpose because they’re being paid by a betting syndicate.

In my opinion the only sports that should be subject to the current draconian doping regulations are amateur sports, athletics and swimming.  Even cycling, which pretty much mastered the art of performance enhancement, shouldn’t be as regulated as it is. It is a profession. It is not a sport anymore.

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