Local officials: Dopers should be banned for life

Local officials: Dopers should be banned for life
File photo of blood samples at the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analysis in Epalinges near Lausanne on July 15, 2008.

Drug cheats should be banned for life in order to uphold the integrity of the sport.

That is the view of officials and former athletes The New Paper spoke to yesterday.

The consensus comes on the back of a 100m meet at the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland yesterday morning (Singapore time), when the top three finishers were all former dopers.

Americans Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers finished first, second and third in the race.

On hearing the results, Singapore Athletics Association vice-president and former track star, C Kunalan, said that people are likely to cast doubts over the athletes because of their tainted past.

"The only way to solve this is to dish out a life ban for dopers," he said.

NO SIDE EFFECTS

"The problem is that these days, there are drugs which produce little or no side effects. So, athletes aren't deterred from taking them.

"The medical professionals must help solve this problem. If a performance-enhancing drug is really (safe), then it should be available to all athletes.

"So that ultimately, it will be a battle not just between runners and their coaches, but their sports scientists as well."

Athletics has grown increasingly synonymous with doping over the past three decades.

Canada's Ben Johnson, who took gold at Seoul 1988 only to get busted in post-race tests for stanozolol, was the first high-profile case. He was banned for three years.

Only two of five 100m Olympic champions since 1992 - Donovan Bailey (1996) and Usain Bolt (2008, 2012) - have not been tainted by an association with drugs.

Former national footballer, R Sasikumar, said the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cannot afford to be so forgiving. "Some things don't deserve a second chance in sport, and doping, like match-fixing, is one of them," said Sasi.

"It casts a stain on any sport, especially athletics and cycling, where half a second can win you a race, and where the advantage gained from performance-enhancing drugs is obvious.

"In such sports, the governing body has to take a strong stance on doping, and impose a life ban as punishment."

SAA president Tang Weng Fei, however, said that a life ban might be a tad harsh for a doped athlete. He suggested a lengthy ban instead. "The ban has to be long enough so that it is very improbable for an athlete to make a comeback," he said.

"I think six to eight years is enough to end a career, which is fair punishment for dopers.

"One school of thought is that dopers will always have a stigma attached to them.

"When they win, people will always wonder if they cheated again. But there are instances of athletes turning over a new leaf.

"The bottom line is that they will always create doubt - and that itself isn't good for the sport."

aakasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 05, 2014.
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