Gonzo Sports Digest; Recreational Drugs and PEDs in Sport Should be Treated Differently

 

I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while and now seems as good a time as any given the allegations about Tyson Fury testing positive for cocaine.

Each sport is governed differently of course so this is going to be pretty general, but by in large most sporting governing bodies don’t differentiate between performance enhancing banned substances and illegal recreational ones – but should they?

As it happens the World Anti-Doping Agency does treat some recreational substances differently and cocaine is not a banned substance when taken out-of -competition.  The definition of “in-competition” and “out-of-competition” depends on the sport and the testing authority , which leaves things open to interpretation. Most PEDs are also banned out-of-competition and that is admittedly a tangible difference. Like I say, this is a general thing.  In-competition cocaine use will get you a ban, and a big one. Hull City’s Jake Livermore was facing a two-year suspension but the FA, quite rightly, opted not to extend his ban due to exceptional circumstances.  French tennis player Richard Gasguet had a two-and-a-half month suspension after a positive cocaine test, which ruled he had consumed “no more than a grain of salt”, which probably happens when you watch ‘Narcos’ on Netflix.

My argument is Livermore, Gasquet and others shouldn’t really have even had to deal with that anyway.

‘Fun’ drugs shouldn’t be regarded in the same way as PEDs, in or out of competition.  My key point is they simply don’t give a competitive advantage, sticking with boxing and marching powder as it is the topic du jour – if you think there is an advantage in being coked up during a professional fight you’re wrong (not that Fury necessarily was/has been of course).  The booger sugar might feel like a boost when you’re throwing fists with someone who’s just spilled your drink in the Dog and Duck; but in a ring, where you need your wits about you and a cool, calm head it is not an advantage.  Unless you’re an animal type fighter like Mike Tyson… that kid was a rare breed though.

Team sports are different, granted.  The individual is employed by the club and being a stoner, space cadet or a raver is going to impact on performances. Sanctions in this case should come from the club, I see no real reason why governing bodies need to get involved in such issues.

Employers in sport do have the right to fire any player (not employee – player) if they are using recreational drugs.  I cannot argue against that.  If you own an NBA franchise and are paying someone $15million+ a season – you get to tell that guy he can’t smoke weed.  That’s fair enough, essentially the athlete’s physical prowess is part of the deal and they have a responsibility to ensure they’re in top form.  That doesn’t mean it should be an obligation because no one would axe LeBron James for rocking up tripping on magic mushrooms.  However, to get sacked and then face time out due to a governing body, that seems unnecessary for substances that have no positive impact on performance.

Maybe I’m too liberal, maybe not. I don’t really believe in prohibition as a concept or an effective method. I just don’t think it works and there’s enough evidence to back up that viewpoint (see further reading, have a google). People will do what they want to do at the end of the day legal issues aside, I doubt there are many teetotallers out there who would be full blown smack fiends if heroin wasn’t outlawed, for example.

I’m fully aware there are other issues too.  Sports stars are supposed to be ‘role models’, whatever that really means, by keeping on the straight and narrow, but drugs are a part of everyday life for many people, whether or not they realise it. Is drug abuse any more immoral than cheating on a partner? Using prostitutes? Violence? I would say no, but hookers and fisticuffs probably won’t leave your career in tatters (examples include; alleged call girl user and England captain Wayne Rooney and Watford striker Troy Deeney, who was found guilty of assault in 2012).

You could club alcohol and tobacco in with recreational drugs and arguably they’re as, if not more, detrimental to health and performance than the likes of marijuana, MDMA, cocaine… but because they’re not illegal there are no real sanctions in or out of competition.  Having the odd night on ecstasy in-competition is probably no more damaging than hitting the booze but the drink is fine and the pills are not. If a sportsperson is using a substance and as such ruins the experience for the fans with sub-par performances that’s not on, obviously, but if they can still entertain and get results… what’s the big deal?

There is an argument that people in other walks of life would get sacked for drug taking but not in all areas.  I’ve had jobs before where bosses do lines with members of staff on nights out (and to ‘recover’ the day after) and where one employee seems like he’s there specifically to act as a dealer, with the odd bit of photocopying and tea making on the side due to ineptness in every other relevant area.

I’m not going to bother with a conclusion, I think I’ve expressed my opinion well enough throughout so I’ll leave it with some optional further reading.  Good luck to Tyson Fury as well, it looks like he’s got a long road ahead of him but no one can take away the fact that for a brief period he was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.  I’ll finish by pointing out that failing a drugs test for cocaine out-of-competition is more widespread than you’d imagine, but mostly it doesn’t get mentioned as bans won’t happen.  As the heavyweight champion of the world however, and being the divisive figure he is, Tyson Fury should have been more careful.

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Reasons to legalise all drugs via Urban75.

Tyson Fury bits via The Guardian & ESPN

Photo Credit: My buddy Dave.

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Doctor Mark Bonar and the Latest Sports Stars Doping Scandal

I woke up this morning to the headline ‘Footballers ‘doped’ by London doctor’, but there is an undercurrent to this story that seems to have been largely overlooked, if not totally ignored.

The doctor in question is one Mark Bonar, who has been the subject of a Sunday Times investigation.  I’ve had to use the BBC’s report as I don’t particularly want to pay a subscription for The Times and in any case what’s the point when their biggest stories get re-reported elsewhere?

Anyway, Bonar was secretly filmed claiming he’d prescribed performance-enhancing drugs to 150 athletes both in the UK and abroad over the past years.  These athletes include a number of Premier League footballers, an England cricket player and tennis players.

Sensational stuff indeed – providing it is the truth.

Within the article the BBC make a passing mention to the fact he is facing a misconduct tribunal later this month unrelated to this apparent doping scandal.

A link to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service is provided outlining the details so I did a bit of further research (typed Mark Bonar into a search engine) and came across an article on that impending tribunal in The Mirror.

He is alleged to have hidden a patient’s terminal cancer so he could carry on charging her for treatments and to have informed her she was not eligible for NHS treatment as she was not a British citizen.  Bonar denies all 16 allegations of misconduct – but what if they are true?

Granted, the two cases are unrelated aside from the fact Bonar is at the centre of both. But if these allegations are proven to be correct that would paint Bonar as an untrustworthy individual. A man whose testimony could not be taken at face value, regardless of the fact he was seemingly secretly filmed.  If someone can lie to a woman dying of cancer about the severity of her disease he can probably lie to anyone, undercover journos included.  The Sunday Times make a good argument and there is almost certainly weight behind the story but by the same token they have probably jumped the gun by publishing now rather than wait until after his misconduct tribunal. Maybe a rival was also aware of the story so they felt they had to run it, who knows.

If this doping story is on the money make no mistake it is huge – but before we go witch hunting for any of his former sporting patients/clients perhaps it might be better to wait and see just what kind of man Bonar is then re-evaluate the situation from there. The tribunal is set for April 11-16, so it isn’t like we’ve got too long to wait.

Dr Mark Bonar Update 12/7/2016

I’ve been keeping an eye out to try and find the result of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing but Bonar’s keeps getting put back. Currently he is on their calendar from today until Thursday (July 14th 2016) but this has happened before. As soon as something happens I will update again.

Further Reading;

BBC article

Mirror article

Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

UpdateThe Guardian have written something along similar lines to this, only fancier and with more research.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; the Worst of 2015

I’ve done the best bits of 2015, here’s a look at some of the worst.  Not necessarily the very worst just what came to mind at the time of writing.

Rugby World Cup

There were some great moments at the Rugby World Cup as New Zealand,  the undisputed best team in the tournament, took the title and Japan produced a stunning win over South Africa.  There were brave displays from an injury-ravaged Wales and Scotland came out of it with a lot of credit too, but there were some real low points.

The manner of the Scots’ exit to Australia and running referee Craig Joubert would have been comical if it wasn’t so unjust.  Whenever poor officiating ruins a big event it is always a shame but this was one of the worst incidents I can remember at a Rugby World Cup.  Granted Australia may have won in any case but we’ll never know for sure.

Then there was the whole England debacle as the hosts crashed out at the Pool Stages.  The fact the press couldn’t handle it with any dignity and chose to single out Sam Burgess’ involvement was also disappointing, possibly even embarrassing.  Burgess had the tools to be a success in union but their loss is rugby league’s gain, and I look forward to seeing him tear it up at the Four Nations next year.

Drugs

Drugs are generally awesome, but not when they’re used for cheating in sport. In athletics the Russians have hit the headlines like a nation of Lance Armstrongs in 2015 and there have been incidents in other sports too.  I won’t wax on about it too much, enough has been written by others anyway.  I quite like the idea of clean and ‘dirty’ competitions though, just let people jack up on whatever but keep them in separate tournaments.  Maybe we could try magic mushroom boxing or darts on crack, just a thought.

FIFA Corruption

The FIFA Corruption scandal just keeps rolling on, and on and on…  Sepp Blatter refuses to go away despite being handed a lengthy ban, while Michel Platini should have gone down as one of the game’s great talents but instead he’ll be remembered as a morally bankrupt old fucker, and his achievements on the pitch will forever be overshadowed if not tainted.

The beautiful game is seemingly being run by a bunch of criminals, swindlers and self-serving egotists – this has to change, but whether it will or not is anyone’s guess, my guess would be it won’t.

Perhaps one day I’ll do a full piece on both Fifa and drugs in sport, they deserve more than just a mention and to go into either deeper in this article would be pointless as when I do get round to doing a bigger article I’ll be covering old ground. But that’s all for 2016, maybe – if I don’t get distracted along the way.

Further Reading Drugs;

Telegraph article on allowing drugs in sport.

Guardian’s Drugs In Sport homepage.

Further reading FIFA;

BBC key questions and Wikipedia.

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