Needless rules deeply disturb me on an intellectual level. I believe that rules and laws should serve a clear purpose. Our laws should protect the greater good of society, and not be in place to micromanage the ethics and behavior of individuals. For instance, I donâ€™t believe that driving without a seat belt endangers anyone besides the driver, so why do we spend millions on â€œclick it or ticketâ€ campaigns?
Hereâ€™s another example I just came across, which is the real focus of this post. According to their website, â€œThe World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the international independent organization created in 1999 to promote, coordinate, and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms.â€ To clarify, â€œdopingâ€ is defined by Websterâ€™s English Dictionary as, â€œthe use of a substance (as an anabolic steroid or erythropoietin) or technique (as blood doping) to illegally improve athletic performanceâ€. WADAâ€™s mission is a good thing. We want everyone in sport to have an equal opportunity to compete, and setting rules for what methods and substances are allowed is vital to the goal of fair competition. Please take note of the word â€œimproveâ€ in the above definition, and letâ€™s move on.
I was just placed in the random testing pool for out-of-competition testing, and in order to register I needed to complete a tutorial focusing on the methods and procedures of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA, which is the US organization created to enforce the rules of WADA). The tutorial consisted of about 45 slides, each with an accompanying video featuring real athletes talking about the topic at hand.
In those 45 slides there is only ONE substance that is given a slide and video of its own. That substance is Marijuana. This information (which you can see here) basically says Marijuana is bad for you and can stay in your system for a long time. What I find offensive is the final point: â€œThere are a number of negative health and performance consequences associated with using marijuana.â€ NEGATIVE? Then why is it banned, and why are we (the International and US Olympic committees who fund WADA and USADA) spending money testing for it? How does this fall under the mission of the World Anti-Doping Agency? I donâ€™t use any drugs, so I never have to worry about a positive test, but I absolutely do worry that Olympic sports are wasting money testing for a substance which is described (by the testing agency itself) as having negative performance consequences. That rule is not promoting the greater good, but simply pushing morals. Iâ€™m not condoning the use of marijuana, it is illegal in the US after all, but it is the job of the police to regulate its use, not WADA or USADA. By placing substances on the banned list which are not doping agents (performance enhancing) our sports must deal with the possibility of unnecessary positive tests from athletes who are not actually doping, and that harms the reputation of Olympic sports through negative publicity.
Furthermore, why donâ€™t the real threats to fair play have more focus in the tutorial? Why donâ€™t EPO, Steroids or blood doping have slides? Honestly, this makes me question the ethics, reliability and intelligence of the people we are depending on to maintain the integrity of our sports.