Drug cheats should get life bans


May 21, 2016
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones cries as she addresses the media during a news conference outside the federal courthouse Friday, October 5, 2007 in White Plains, New York. Jones pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators when she denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
file Usain Bolt defeating American Justin Gatlin (left) in the 100 metres at last year's IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.

Western Bureau:

The recent disclosure that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has opened disciplinary proceedings against 31 athletes after belatedly discovering that they had provided tainted drug samples at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games is indeed fantastic news.

If I could have my way, all drug cheats would be kicked out of track and field and in all other sports where these cheats are seeking to gain an unfair advantage. As far as I am concerned, we will never have a level playing field in sports until these cheats are gone for good.

In looking back at the era when 'doped-up' athletes from countries like East Germany and the United States dominated the global stage, countries like Jamaica suffered as star athletes like sprinters Merlene Ottey and Raymond Stewart never enjoyed the kind of success they probably deserved.

After the Americans met their Waterloo with the damning BALCO revelations, which knocked the likes of Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery off the illegal pedestals and cast an eerie shadow over America's track and field, one would have thought that we had come to the end of the drug-cheating era.

However, based on the latest revelations coming out of Russia about the state's involvement in the doping of their star athletes, it seems quite clear to me that many athletes and nations are not yet ready to support the efforts to clean up the sport.

In fact, it would appear that WADA might not be as efficient as one would have hoped after their big talk about biological passports and creating a foolproof system. If the 31 implicated athletes got away in London 2012, it is clear that they must have found a way to get by at the time.

I believe the way to stamp out drug cheating from sports is to simply ban all the offenders for life when they are caught. Giving cheats two-year and four-year bans is nothing more than giving them an incentive to 'try a thing' and hope they beat the system.

When Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the undisputed 'Mr Clean' of the sport, came up against the American drug cheat Justin Gatlin in last year's IAAF World Championship 100m final, it was no secret that the hierarchy of the IOC and IAAF wanted Bolt to win to protect what little integrity is left in the sport.

I believe that instead of leaving things to chance and hoping for the best, the IOC needs to bite the bullet and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to drug cheating. If they are really serious about having a clean sport, they should introduce a one-strike-and-you-are-out policy.

P.S.: Feel free to send your feedback to adrianfrater@hotmail.com.

Other Sports Stories