Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dick Pound is an Idiot

IOC should stop trying to ban every conceivable substance that might enhance an athlete's performance. There is simply no way of ever achieving a mythical level playing field. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that access to good trainers and good training facilities, being able to afford the right equipment, good nutrition, excess to health care and having the time to train are far more of an advantage than downing a few cans of Coke before a race. This is the reason why Norway (population 4.5) beats China (population 1.4 billion) in the Winter Olympics. Instead, what the IOC should seek to do is to ban substances that both improve performance and that have not been proven to be safe. In other words, the IOC should seek only to ban substances whose use would threaten workplace safety.

This should go for other sports as well. As it stands, the emphasis on potentially banning any substance that may improve performance regardless of the health costs associated with it has driven a wedge between various parities in the sporting world in part by obscuring just how some performance enhancers can reduce workplace safety. (It has also led to some pretty strange talk. For example there was talk of banning oxygen cambers for awhile. The reason being there is that although they are not in anyway dangerous, there is some evidence that by speeding up the healing process -- god forbid! -- it “artificially” improved performance.) No where is this more apparent than in major league baseball. Fearing what testing might mean for a few individual players, the major league players union has lost sight of the following. Most major leaguers who use steroids feel that the lax testing in baseball, do in large part to the players union, has created an environment where they are forced to take them in order to keep up with other players that use. Asked if they would then welcome more stringent testing, the vast majority said yes.

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