Earlier this week the people who run the Paralympics, which features disabled athletes, threw Russia out of its event because of allegations that Russia ran an extensive doping operation as part of the country’s sports program. There is something rather bizarre about sports owners and operators and their problems with illegal or banned substances. By definition, illegal means criminal yet in the sports owners and operators’ world, they have somehow convinced the public that taking illegal or banned drugs is not a crime. The sports owners or organizations should handle it as a case of cheating and punish athletes in a sports world not a real world atmosphere.
Taking steroids in the United States without a physician’s approval has been illegal thanks to the Anabolic Steroids Act of 1990. Yet sports leagues have passed drug testing and penalty rules and there is a partially globally taxpayer’s supported outfit called the World Anti-Doping Agency that monitors athletes, so sports operators do know which athletes are taking illegal drugs. But there is never Interpol or in the United States the Drug Enforcement Agency or local police doing drug busts on athletes. In 2005, the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge warned Italian officials that athletes caught using illegal or banned substances in the 2006 Turin Games to help their performances were not really doing anything illegal and that his group, which is not a sovereign nation yet has permanent observer status at the United Nations should enforce sports law. It seems law enforcement has been told not to get involved with sports, sports operators should handle what should be considered breaking the law and reducing the crime to a simple word. Cheating. And cheating impinges on the integrity of sports and if there is an integrity problem people might turn away and that could impact sports owners’ money making ability. It’s all about money and keeping the revenue flow going. Better to say it’s cheating than a crime.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.