Some Rules Do Not Make Sense

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 don’t believe that driving without a seat belt endangers anyone besides the driver, so why do we spend millions on “click it or ticket” campaigns?

Here’s another example I just came across, which is the real focus of this post. According to their website, “The 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.” To clarify, “doping” is defined by Webster’s English Dictionary as, “the use of a substance (as an anabolic steroid or erythropoietin) or technique (as blood doping) to illegally improve athletic performance”. WADA’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 “improve” in the above definition, and let’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.

image 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: “There are a number of negative health and performance consequences associated with using marijuana.” 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 don’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. I’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 don’t the real threats to fair play have more focus in the tutorial? Why don’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.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. I’m with you on the marijuana ban being stupid as it’s detrimental to performance, but the assumption that driving without a seatbelt doesn’t affect anyone else is ridiculous. Injuries will be greater without a seatbelt, and more often times result in death. So the greater injuries are more costly to treat, and require more time and effort to treat by already overworked hospital staff leading to decreased care provided to each patient. Who will be paying for the increased care? If they have adequate insurance, the insurance companies will be footing a large portion of the bill which they will then pass onto other subscribers. In the case they are underinsured as many people are in a catastrophic auto accident, taxpayers will end up footing the bill one way or the other. How about if they die in the accident? The cost to society from them not working is fairly high, if they were in debt when they died, those debts will need to be forgiven and the costs will be passed. If they have families and children, the government will provide assistance for them out of tax payer money, children who grow up without parents are more likely to get into trouble with the law than their parented counterparts, etc. etc. Just because the person who chooses not to buckle up is the only one physically impacted, doesn’t mean the repurcussions of the accident are not felt throughout society. Spending millions on click it or tick it campaigns saves much more money than it costs. Buckling up is the same as wearing a helmet, it shouldn’t require a law as it’s common sense, but there are far too many people without common sense. As I am now done with school and have a fever of 102 so I can’t train, I’m bored and need to find something to argue about ;).

  2. What Brandon said. He’s right. THe government would do more good eliminating hyper-caloric foods, or taxing the snot out of it. I suspect heart disease and obesity is a greater killer of people and cost our populace more than driving without a seat belt. We should also get to deduct the cost in form of a credit for all bikes purchased. It’s both green and healthy mostly. See you soon.

  3. You know, my first draft of this post had an almost identical argument to yours about seat belts, only somehow I still came up with the same conclusion that the law was worthless. I decided the post was too long and figured I’d shorten it and leave the extensive support of the thesis statement for comments. As for helmet laws, I’d like to see a study done to compare the number of critical condition patients with and without helmets. My theory is that the helmet will help a rider survive, but that rider is more likely to be in critical condition sucking public or insurance funding from the rest of us, whereas without a helmet the person would just die and cost very little to the public. It may be morbid, but from a cost perspective I think the helmet law, and possibly the seat belt law, may end up costing us more money. It certainly costs us more public labor hours for the police to enforce those laws.

  4. yeah, the helmet law is dumb. If you’re that dumb to NOT wear one, then the gene pool really doesn’t want you in it – even in the shallow end wearing swimmies and a swim noodle. I think testing for Mary Jane is also quite stupid, I mean… I can’t even understand why they’d test.

  5. Right, my point about the drug is not that it needs to be legal, it’s that WADA and USADA are on limited budgets. New doping drugs are constantly being created and the doping industry has more money than the anti-doping industry. If every test for marijuana costs even a little bit extra, that’s money that is NOT going toward research to stop actual dopers. If we want clean sport our money needs to be used efficiently.

  6. I think the regulation of Tobacco is the first step in the regulation of Marijuana. Anderson Cooper had a good panel on both sides of the argument. When it comes down to it, Marijuana isn’t as harmful to your body as alcohol or as addictive as nicotine. I’m not sure where the negative social stigma of Marijuana came from, but I think we should legalize it, regulate it, and tax the hell out of it, just like all other recreational drugs. We can then use the tax money to pay for health classes and after school programs. Sorry Ben, but I bet you it’s still going to be illegal for professional athletes. 🙁

  7. oh yeah, lets get the drug addicts to pay for our children to be educated. And maybe we can get them to pay off the national debt and fund the military efforts in the middle east as well. drug addicts may very well save this country…

    Matt, I think you’re missing my point. i don’t care if the US legalizes marijuana, I just want USADA to stop wasting money doing tests for it. I want that money to go toward stopping drug DOPING, where the substance (or method) actually improves performance.

    that said, my mouth is dripping with desire for all that drug money we’re gonna get from the boys hanging out at the skate park. It’s like the opposite of Robin Hood: plunder the poor and give all their money to Prince John. 😉

  8. Brandon’s whole post is ridiculous. People should have to be safe all the time so society doesn’t have to pay to fix them. Motorcycles? Lets outlaw them. Activities that send someone to the doctor for a groin injury and subsequent follow ups? Looks like ben’s lifestyle is a burden to some tax payers. Better make it illegal. His health care costs could easily be avoided. Parents going sky diving? Nope. If that chute fails, their kids might grow up fatherless and the kids could them become thugs and murder all of us because of their lack of parental supervision.

    Where is this line of risk that he wants to draw in the sand here? Should we make it illegal to do anything as personally dangerous as driving with out a seat belt? I’m all for seat belts, but unless bodies start flying from cars and killing other people when not buckled in, that a personal responsibility. Should climbing k2 be illegal. What about doing crunches so hard you rupture your ab muscles, giving yourself kidney damage and endangering your life. I think we should make over exertion illegal. Think of the cost to the tax payer/society.

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